We here at Empty Growler are big fans of all things craft beer and technology, so it’s no secret we are heavy Untappd users. Today, we continue a new interview series with Untappd Super Users. What is a Super User you ask? Well, Super Users are volunteers that are passionate about beer and Untappd. They help out on the back end of things and do their best to make the experience better for Untappd users. We decided it would be fun to shine the spotlight on some of these regular beer guys. Today, it’s Joe Hoffman from Kansas City.
Empty Growler: Tell us a bit about yourself, your dayjob etc.
Joe Hoffman: I am a lifelong resident of Kansas and work in finance for a pasta manufacturer. Yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds.
Empty Growler: How did you get into drinking craft beer?
Joe Hoffman: Living in the Kansas City area for most of my life and coming of age when I did, it is hard to go any place where Boulevard Wheat is not readily available. Having a large craft brewer like them right here in town with such an accessible beer and a growing line of styles to check out definitely helped. What really got me going though was visiting an Old Chicago restaurant and finding out about their World Beer Tour. I am a complete achievement whore, so finding a place that would reward me with prizes for drinking different beers…that was a game changer.
EG: What got you started with Untappd and then become a SU?
Joe: If I remember right, I first saw something about Untappd on Twitter shortly after they left beta. Being an achievement/badge whore, they had a game to keep me interested and it was a great resource to keep track of my unique beers without using a rating site. Between routinely sending questions to Greg about badges and submitting one particularly massive merge/correction request, they blessed me with SU access.
EG: Tell us a bit about your local beer scene and favorite local breweries.
Joe: The beer scene in Kansas City is a pretty dynamic one, and at the root of it all is the fact that the metro area sprawls across two states with different liquor laws and distribution. As I mentioned earlier, Boulevard Brewing is a huge presence for us and anytime they release one of the limited editions to their Smokestack Series it can be a race to find bottles. There are a couple of brewpubs in the city, but they leave something to be desired when we see what is happened down the highway in St Louis with their onslaught of new breweries. There is hope that change is coming with a couple restaurants opening with the intent to brew their own beer, and Wilderness Brewing was able to successfully fund a $40k Kickstarter campaign to get going as a nano-brewery.
Kansas City has a very strong backbone of stores and bars willing to cater to the craft beer scene and support the growing distribution. Just in the past year, we have had an influx of beers from the west coast hit our market…Firestone Walker, Stone, Green Flash, Deschutes. Our liquor stores have really started to embrace social media and blogs, which is great for finding out when a beer arrives in town. But in my opinion, the bars/restaurants are the best part. Start in downtown with the Flying Saucer where they have tons of beers on tap and in bottles, a steady calendar of events/tappings and my #72 saucer (just completed my fourth go round of their 200 beer club). Head south from downtown and you hit Westport which features McCoy’s brewpub, the Foundry (wide beer selection) and Beer Kitchen (beer and food pairing) at one intersection. Head a little further south for the Waldo area and a similar trio of 75th St Brewery, Waldo Pizza and Swagger. Way north of all that is All Star Pizza who just had an Avery event. Two places are having Firestone Walker events this week. Jump over to the Kansas side and Barley’s Brewhaus is helping launch a new Tallgrass Brewing beer tonight at one location and tapping a firkin of Tallgrass beer tomorrow at another. It gets to a point where the number of places you want to be in one night is just staggering, and yet it still feels like there is plenty of room to grow. My wife hates the local beer scene.
EG: You are standing in front of a wall of every beer you can imagine, but can only choose 4 for a mix and match, what do you go with?
Joe: Since you are posting my top 6 along with this, I almost feel obligated to start with O’Fallon Wheach. I routinely get crushed for liking this beer. It just has those bold peach flavors I crave. Next up is Green Flash Rayon Vert. Some call it an Orval clone, I call it delicious. Third is Boulevard Two Jokers. Boulevard added some sourness to the beer last year to push it from good to great, then they pushed it out of their 2012 lineup. Really upset about that. For my final selection, I’ll go with New Glarus Belgian Red. Fruit beers, yo.
EG: What are a few beers you have yet to try that you are on the hunt for?
Joe: Being someone who really pursues unique (to me) beers, I am on the hunt for pretty much any beer that hasn’t been aged in a whiskey barrel. There are also a lot of beers I have only had a couple of ounces of due to being at festivals or sharing with friends that I would really like to revisit…the Bruery’s Oude Tart is probably number one on that list. I would also do pretty much anything to get my hands on the Positive Contact box set Dogfish Head is doing with Dan the Automator. Aside from being a Deltron 3030 fan, a beer/cider hybrid with apples, peppers and cilantro just sounds like something I would lose my shit over.