Meet the Experts: David Jensen of Beer 47
David Jensen is the blogger behind Beer 47, one of the funnest, freshest blogs about (you guessed it!) craft beer that we’ve come across in our virtual beer travels. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome David to our expert team.
So pull up a stool, open up a cold one (hey, it’s five o’clock somewhere) and get to know our newest expert with this beer-flavored Q & A. Got your own question for David? Don’t be shy! After all, even drinking buddies have to start somewhere. Pipe in below the post.
Describe your beer philosophy.
“The craft beer glass is half full.” In other words, I’m optimistic about the rising tide of craft beer in America and the world. I’ve served my time when I was younger and college age, drinking the flavorless, yellow fizzy stuff and now you will rarely, if ever, find me drinking anything but craft beer. And why not? It has never been a better time to drink craft beer in America. Craft brewers are making high quality beer, both by making traditional styles as well as by pushing the limits to create experimental and ultimately new styles of beer. Styles such as Double IPA or India Black Ale (aka Black IPA) have only been around for a few years and I’m willing to try any and all of these styles of beer.
Most craft beer aficionados have experienced a beer epiphany; care to share yours?
I can’t really pinpoint a specific event that triggered a craft beer epiphany. It was a more gradual realization that there is a big wide world of beer of different styles and flavors and nearly all of it is better than the stuff I was drinking before. It started in my junior year of college when my roommate introduced to me multiple different brands and styles of beer. We set out that year to try as many different styles of craft beer as we could find. We cut out sides of all of the 6-packs we purchased and pasted them on the wall. I don’t recall the final count, but it was numerous.
I do, however, have a specific Belgian beer epiphany. Previous to my epiphany, my exposure to Belgian beer was quite limited. I was not very familiar with many of the brands nor the styles. All of this changed after a trip to Belgium in 2009. During that trip I tried so many different Belgian styles of beer that I became more familiar with not only the breweries and brands but also discovered different styles like Belgian stout. Since I was there in the summer, I also discovered that my misconceptions about Belgian beer and hot weather were wrong. Even dubbels and triples were enjoyable and sometimes even refreshing in hot weather.
Do you have a favorite style of beer?
I don’t really have one favorite style of beer. In some ways, I think that picking out one style to favor would limit my exposure to new beers. Since my Belgian beer epiphany, I more actively try to seek out different styles, special releases and beer from different parts of the world. There is such a variety of wonderful beer out there to try that I don’t want to fall back to one style and miss out on something else.
The other night I was eating pizza and was craving an IPA to go with the pizza. The IPA on the menu was a both fairly new and also really good. There was, however, an Imperial Stout that I had not tried before so I went for that instead. I’m glad I did because it was quite delicious.
What are a few beers that you have in your fridge at all times?
I don’t have many beers that I always have in the fridge. I try to have a variety of different beers from different breweries available and most of them are 22-ounce bottles.
However, if I could keep one beer stocked at all times, it would be Hangar 24 Alt-bier. Unfortunately, that brewery only distributes in Southern California, so it is only in my fridge after a trip to the brewery.
My fridge usually has at least two beer styles from the following breweries: 21st Amendment (right now I have four styles), Ballast Point, Stone, and Mikkeller.
Of all the beers you’ve reviewed on Beer 47, what are a couple that stand out and why?
Of the beers that I have reviewed on Beer 47, one that really stands out is Deschutes Red Chair NWPA. It is a refreshing beer that has a floral, American-style hop aroma with notes of citrus and malt. It has a noticeable and almost spicy bitterness with just the right amount of malty sweetness to balance the flavors. What makes this beer great is that it is a little sweet, a little bitter, and has tons of flavor, but it is still very refreshing and the finish is very smooth. Even though Deschutes makes this as a seasonal beer, it would be great any time of year.
Red Chair NWPA stands out from the beers that I have already reviewed but I have quite a large backlog of reviews. One beer that stands out of my unpublished reviews is Hangar 24 Altbier. It also has a great balance of bitter and sweet but in different ways. The bitterness is much less harsh or spicy and the sweetness is more subtle. It is refreshing with a clean taste and aroma. The hops are German noble hops, giving it a fresh-cut herbal and earthy aroma. What makes this beer stand out is the subtle complexity of flavors like a touch of cocoa while maintaining a refreshing quality to it. Hangar 24 Alt-bier goes great with just about any food and is another beer that is great year-round.
If you had to choose: cask, keg, bottle, can or growler?
I recently explored this topic on Beer 47. The article explored the benefits and drawbacks of each [vessel]. Although I really enjoy the utility of the growler, if I had to choose one, it would be the keg. After all, without the keg, you can’t fill a growler. It is environmentally friendly, helps support local bars and brew pubs, and it the only vessel I use to dispense my home brew.
Where do you stand on drinking beer from the proper glass?
I think it is more important to drink beer from any glass than [adhere to] using proper glassware. Proper glassware is fun when you have it available but anything is better than drinking straight from the bottle or the can (craft beer does come in cans). When you don’t pour your beer into a glass, you’re missing out on a large portion of the beer experience—namely the aroma of the beer.
Are there any beer trends that you’re excited about?
I’m really excited about all of the experimentation and collaboration that is going on in the craft beer world. As I previously mentioned, this is a great time for craft beer. Brewers are making very high quality traditional styles as well has breaking the “rules” by creating new styles or experimenting with new ingredients or flavor combinations. During The Great American Beer Festival in 2010, I had a beer made with rosemary, a witbier that smelled like an American IPA, several beers aged in bourbon barrels, two beers made with guava, and finally a beer that I described at the moment as, “pumpkin pie with a side of pumpkin pie ice cream, all covered with a bittersweet chocolate syrup.” These are the trends that I’m excited about.
Any beer trends you wish would peter out?
One beer trend that I would like to see peter out is the low-calorie and low-carb beers. I’m not opposed to session beers, lighter-bodied beers, and beers with less alcohol, especially if the beer is intended to be a session beer or other low-alcohol style, like mild ales and bitter ales. What bothers me is the “light” or “low-carb” label on the beer. Very few craft brewers do this, but some do and it usually results in a beer that is more watery, has less flavor, and/or has slightly fewer calories than the original.
Who are some of your favorite beer bloggers and what do you admire about them?
Jay Brooks of Brookston Beer Bulletin is a beer writer and a prolific blogger. He was one of the first beer bloggers on the Internet and churns out quality content almost faster than you can read it. His work is impressive and great to read.
Jesse Friedman of Beer & Nosh is a great photographer and is one of the inspirations for making my blog more photography-focused. When I first started blogging, I knew I wanted to have quality photos for my reviews. After reading Beer & Nosh, I decided I wanted to explore beer through photography more than just writing beer reviews. I even set up my blog to feature the photos as a big part of the blog itself.
What are a few of your favorite local watering holes in San Francisco and beyond?
In Oakland, Beer Revolution.
In the Los Angeles area, Father’s Office.
In Bruges, ‘t Brugs Beertje.
In Dubai, Belgian Beer Cafe.
In Shanghai, Boxing Cat Brewpub and the Southern Barbarian.