Last month at Big Brew NY, we had the privilege of not only meeting journalist John Holl, but winning a copy of his book, The American Craft Beer Cookbook! After Big Brew, we reached out to John to learn more about him and his passion for craft beer.
FP: How did you get your start as a journalist covering beer and the culture of drinking?
JH: I was a “real” reporter for a number of years covering crime and politics, etc. During my travels I would make time to stop into the local breweries and brewpubs. Over time I was able to meet a lot of talented and passionate people in the industry while also tasting some great beer. Slowly I started to write about the beer industry more and more and about crime less and less. These days I really have a great beat with very little corruption or human tragedy coming into my work.
FP: We bet craft beer fans everywhere appreciate you making the switch!
We were ecstatic to win your cookbook at Big Brew NY last month! It offers great recipes for beer and food pairings. What combinations of beer and food are some of your favorites?
JH: Thanks for saying that. I spent two and half years putting the American Craft Beer Cookbook together, so it’s nice when hard work pays off. It’s tough for me to say what’s a favorite or not. If it’s in the book, I like it. That’s for sure. But so much of what I eat and drink is seasonal.
I look for finding the nuanced relationships between beer and food and how they play together. So, for me it’s really about the pairings, exploring and finding ways to bring a good meal together with good beer. If you think about the ingredients in beer and the flavors they produce: Malt (toffee, chocolate, coffee, caramel, toast, biscuit, grassy) Hops (citrus, pine, tropical fruit), Yeast (banana, clove, bubblegum, stone fruits) and water (minerals – sometimes) you can begin to think about how specific foods can pair with beers.
So, I’m a fan of parings like fresh oysters and a stout, carrot cake with an IPA, Porter and grilled red meat. I could go on and on and on.
FP: What are some craft beer trends we can look forward to as spring and summer approach?
JH: I think session beers are going to be popular. That is beers packed with flavor but low alcohol. I also hope people will appreciate a well-made lager. They’ve gotten a bad reputation by some craft beer lovers, but a well made, balanced lager, one with a bit of hop spiciness and biscuty back, is a wonderful refresher when it’s really hot out.
FP: Some days (and nights) just call for a beer!
What are some of your favorite bars/restaurants for their beer selection?
JH: It’s a long list, and I’m thinking beer AND food here but I’d say places like Euclid Hall in Denver, Jimmy’s no. 43 in New York, Little Goat in Chicago, Sugar Maple in Milwaukee, and Post 390 in Boston have never let me down.
FP: Sounds like you’ve made the rounds… lucky you!
What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
JH: Deviled eggs, too much hot sauce, lobster rolls, and just about any kind of pie.
FP: We agree with you on each one!
If you weren’t a journalist and beer connoisseur, what would you be doing? What are some of your hobbies?
JH: I’ve been a credentialed journalist since I was 16-years-old, so I really don’t know what else I’d do, since this is all I’ve ever done. Hopefully I’d do something that would allow me to interact with people.
Hobbies? Between being the editor of All About Beer Magazine, pimping out the American Craft Beer Cookbook, and working on my next book the best hobby I have these days is napping. I’m awesome at it.
FP: Naps and beer! What else could one ask for? Thank you so much for your time. We hope to see you at future events!