Beer Madness 2014 panelists: Who they are, and why we chose them


Miles Gray tastes beer for the 2014 Beer Madness contest held at Meridian Pint. (Jason Aldag/TWP)

This year’s Beer Madness panelists came to Meridian Pint on two consecutive Tuesday nights in March to taste their way through 32 brews. Who was on the panel?

As in previous years, we chose four “experts” and four readers, the former solicited for their diversity of industry experience and the latter chosen from among more than 300 submissions. The ninth judge is longtime Post beer columnist Greg Kitsock, editor of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News.

The experts:

U.S. Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), co-chairman of the House Small Brewers Caucus. The congressman has become a regular on our panel after joining as a reader in 2012.

Miles Gray III, managing partner at Smith Commons Public House.


Erica Skolnik tasting beer for the 2014 Beer Madness contest held at Meridian Pint. (Jason Aldag/TWP)

Erica Skolnik, a craft beer fan and the baker behind the extraordinary croissants and other goods at Frenchie’s.

Two in one: Ruth Gresser, chef-owner of Pizzeria Paradiso, judged on the first night, then handed the reins to Paradiso beer manager Greg Jasgur for the second.

The readers (and what they wrote that drew us to them, including their favorite domestic craft beers):

Bryan Berghoef, 38, pastor and author of “Pub Theology: Beer, Conversation and God” and host of weekly sessions on that topic at pubs and microbreweries in the area. “My palate has expanded, as has my religious and philosophical outlook — but don’t tell my wife, she thinks I’m off doing ‘the Lord’s work’!” Beers: Harmony Star Stuff Belgian Dubbel; Ommegang Three Philosophers Quadrupel Ale; Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale. He lives in 16th Street Heights.

Echo Rummel, 61, of Silver Spring. Rummel included an off-color joke that can’t be printed in a family newspaper, and also wrote, “When I subscribed to the Beer of the Month Club over 20 years ago, I only wish I’d realized that my interest in craft beer could lead to career opportunities.” Beers: Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA, Magic Hat HiCu, Sneaky Pete Imperial IPA.

Bruce A. Johnson Jr., 46, of Bowie, Md. An attorney, Johnson wrote, “I am as passionate about beer as I am the law, even though I cannot drink it first thing in the morning or take it to court.” Beers: Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale, Dogfish Head Shelter Pale Ale.

Lauren Smith, 27, of Dayton, Md. Smith works at I.M. Wine in Fulton and is the founder of the Maryland chapter of Barley’s Angels. “I’m the only woman I know who is this passionate and knowledgeable about craft brews,” she wrote. Beers: 21st Amendment Back in Black, Maui Coconut Porter, Stillwater Of Love & Regret.

Cast a vote for your favorite each week through April 23rd.

Joe Yonan is the Food and Travel editor of The Washington Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Food section's Weeknight Vegetarian column.
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