Tuesday, March 8, 2011;
As always, we received hundreds of responses to our call for applications to our Beer Madness tasting panel, and we looked for a diverse range of readers in filling it out. We asked for a sentence summing up each applicant's beer-tasting qualifications (the wittier, the better), and this year we also asked for a list of each one's five favorite domestic craft beers. The five reader-panelists and their answers are:
Justin Garcia, 26
Lockheed Martin analyst
"Over the last couple of years I have sampled beers from many different countries with friends and family, forsaking my liver and wallet . . . and have discovered that my favorite beers tend to be domestic craft brews, which made picking only five extremely difficult."
Favorite beers: Troegs Rugged Trail Nut Brown Ale, Lagunitas Censored (AKA the Kronik) Rich Copper Ale, Founders Breakfast Stout, Samuel Adams Imperial White, Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA (60 Minute + 90 Minute blend on tap).
Hiromi Kowaguchi, 48
Host at Best Buns Bread Co.
"I also like my husband."
Favorite beers: Mad Fox American Pale Ale, Flying Dog Raging Bitch, Victory HopDevil, Samuel Adams Summer Ale, Sierra Nevada Torpedo.
Whitney Meager, 31
Nonprofit project manager
"When my parents come to stay with me, in my studio apartment, for sometimes up to a month, I always feel fully 'reimbursed' for my hospitality when I see their trunk, which has been well stocked with a variety of Boulevard beers - one of the greatest Kansas City exports."
Favorite beers: Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, New Belgium Trippel Belgian Style Ale, Bell's Oberon Ale, Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Sierra Nevada Kellerweis.
Duff Gillespie, 68
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health professor
"Jerry Bailey and I started home-brewing in the 1980s, after which he soared to craft beer greatness by founding the acclaimed Dominion Brewery, while I slipped anonymously into academia; now it's my chance to rise phoenix-like on a sea of suds."
Favorite beers: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Duff Beer, Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter, Ommegang Abbey Ale, Four Peaks Kilt Lifter.
Christina Hoffman, 23
"I might look like I should hold a cosmo, but the way to my heart is with a beer so dark I can't see through it."
Favorite beers: Bluegrass Bourbon Barrel Stout, Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown, anything from Brooklyn Brewery, Victory HopDevil, and the yet-to-be-named beer she made with her father last Father's Day.
Among our other shakeups in Beer Madness this year, we decided to open up spots on our tasting panel for professionals: people who taste for a living. We didn't want just beer aficionados, though, but instead sought out a range of related experiences. So joining the group of five reader-panelists are:
Greg Engert, 31, beer director at ChurchKey and our host for Beer Madness.
Kat Bangs, age 27, sommelier at Komi restaurant in Dupont Circle.
JP Caceres, 29, mixologist at Bourbon Steak in Georgetown.
Brian Robinson, 42, executive chef at Restaurant Three in Arlington.
Ellie and Bob Tupper, 60 and 64, respectively, contract brewers of Tuppers' beers. (Ellie tasted all 64 beers for Round 1 on our first night of tasting, and Bob stepped in to take her place because of illness for the remaining rounds on the second night of tasting.)