Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

Art of the Craft first appeared in the March, 2013 issue of DaBelly. This month’s column is the final column of the first five years; March, 2017 will be the beginning of our second five years together.

Each month we spend time with a craft brewer or other celebrity or visit some tasting rooms to sample their brews. While there are several people I would love to talk to but have not yet had the opportunity, there was one person I wanted to make sure I included in the first five years of Art of the Craft.

He helps me explore quite a few questions, including those about craft brewing. If I have a writing partner, he is that person. He has been intimately involved in each part of the process behind Art of the Craft.

Could you please tell us about yourself?

My name is Greg Richardson, and I write the Art of the Craft column in DaBelly. I have strong opinions about craft beers and craft brewing, and enjoy spending time with other people in the craft brewing community.

There are few experiences in life more pleasant than spending time in good conversations while tasting excellent craft beer.

What brought you to Los Angeles?

I was born and raised in rural Wisconsin and went to school for a long time there. I loved from Wisconsin to Washington, DC for a couple of years, then to Chicago for several years, them back to Washington before moving to Los Angeles near the end of 2000.

My migration from Washington to Southern California was part of a series of significant changes in my life. It was not solely because of the California’s craft beers, though they certainly helped me settle here.

Have you ever brewed beer yourself?

I have helped other people with their home-brews, and have spent plenty of time with craft brewers in craft breweries. 

How did you get so interested in craft brewing?

Growing up in Wisconsin, beer was part of daily life. That beer was almost completely the pilsners produced by industrial pilsners in one form of another.

I grew up in a time when many small towns in Wisconsin had their own local breweries. They did not have wide distribution, but brewed for the local community.

My interest in craft brewing was sparked by my appreciation for the flavors of English beers

I have also developed a personal interest in monastic life. The brewing practices and innovations of monks have drawn me into a love of good beer in general.

Several years ago I organized a craft brewery pilgrimage in which a group of us visited a new brewery each month. We explored breweries in several counties, had a great time, and became familiar with some wonderful brews.

Do you have a favorite beer-food pairing?

I prefer beers in the dark end of the pool, porters and stouts. They go best, in my opinion, with foods which have significant flavors and which complement them.

For example, I like a strong stout or porter with cioppino or something else with a kick to it. I also enjoy dark beers with a little added flavor, such as chocolate or coffee, or jalapeño.

For me, the combination of the seafood and the spice with the rich, powerful dark beer cannot be beat.

Of course, I can also drink a good Russian Imperial stout by itself.

Do you favor a particular California craft brewery?

Each craft brewery is different and I try to keep an open mind as visit new tasting rooms. How I experience each one probably says more about my mood and attitude than about them.

How do you understand "craft brewing?" What is the difference between craft brewing and industrial brewing?

I have heard various ways of understanding the difference between craft brewing and industrial brewing. Some people measure annual production or look at distribution.

My way of understanding may be more subjective.

In my experience, craft breweries are more interested in trying new approaches and being creative, while industrial breweries want to produce as much as they can in predictable ways and move it as easily as they can. Craft brewers are members of a local community while industrial breweries measure themselves on a national or international scale.

What is your favorite music to enjoy with a great beer?

I have to admit, which is a little embarrassing because I write a column in DaBelly, I do not have strong feelings about music.

Classical music helps me leave the rest of the world behind. It is difficult to beat Beethoven and a great beer.

I will talk with you again next month, at the beginning of another five years.

Thank you for reading.

Greg Richardson is a leadership and organizational coach, and a spiritual life mentor, in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg is a recovering attorney, executive, and university professor. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com.

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