How did you get into the beer industry? Why does beer matter to you?
I was a dedicated consumer beer advocate. I had developed a serious respect and passion for beer, had gone down the rabbit hole, utterly fascinated by the history and nuance of this complex yet simple social beverage. I ended up co-founding a consumer organization in New Zealand—the Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA) in 2006, and also pursuing homebrewing to learn all I could. I traveled to the U.K. and Europe in search of the roots of beer as well as the U.S. to investigate the modern variants produced by the cutting edge of the U.S. brewing scene. I stopped fighting destiny in 2011 and opened Brewaucracy, a brewery in Hamilton, New Zealand. I continue to enjoy beer in (almost) all its forms, and the connections and friendships I have made in the never ending quest for more and more beery knowledge!
Why do you judge at the World Beer Cup? What does judging at the World Beer Cup mean to you?
Judging at the World Beer Cup is hard to describe. There is, of course, always that sense of imposter syndrome that can be hard to shake when you're sitting around a table with people you have idolized: authors, brewers, history makers. However, there's also something extremely powerful about "locking in" as all our senses together elevate some great beers at the table to among the ranks of the best beers in the world. The camaraderie, the warmth, the humor, and even the "tales from the trenches" as we await a flight of beers; the efficiency and skill of the stewards, as they work tirelessly to get beers in front of us in the best condition possible; the sense of fatigue, but also of a job well done at the end of each judging session—all of this forms an experience that is unique in my experience of judging. There's playing guitar in a local bar band, and then there's jamming onstage with Hendrix. The World Beer Cup is the latter, and I am proud to be considered worthy.