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Monday, August 20, 2007

Gary Fish's Favorite Beer and Other Strange Answers

In yesterday's Oregonian, Sara Perry interviewed Gary Fish, founder of Deschutes Brewery. The article could have been subtitled "Is that your final answer?" Amid a few rather pedestrian questions and answers ("Why are you opening a pub in Portland?", "Is beer the new wine?", etc.), Perry managed to get some real candor from Fish--of a kind that probably drove his marketing department crazy. For example:
Q: OK, Gary, for the beer geek, what do you consider to be the best beer in the world?
This is a gimme, right? Maybe an old standby (Black Butte Porter) or one of the newer beers that has captured your love (Inversion, Buzzsaw). Not, apparently, if you're Gary Fish.
A: Hmm. I think it would be Westvleteren. It's made by Trappist monks from a small abbey in Belgium and only sold at the abbey from their brewery dock or cafe, which of course, makes it even more sought after.
He selects not only a beer from another brewery, but in a style Deschutes has never brewed. Moving along:
Q: When it comes to wine commentary, there's Robert Parker. Who do you turn to in the beer world?
I wouldn't expect him to mention a site like this with a wee trickle of traffic, but since he's talking to a newspaper with a reporter who has a beer beat (John Foyston), you might figure the answer is obvious. You'd figure wrong:
A: Two come to mind: English journalist Michael Jackson and Portland's own Fred Eckhardt. They're both brilliant writers, neat people and they know their beer.
Apparently he knows that Foyston's a sweetheart and won't punish him for this apostasy. It's a slight interview and I've cherry-picked the most interesting parts, but the rest is here.


  1. More crucially, he may know that Foyston's out of town....

    You do know that Deschutes is a major Republican contributor much despised of Central Oregon hopheads of the politically superior persuasion, yeah?

  2. Wow so critical...I smell sour grapes. Love your site man but lay off...why the venom for Deschutes?

  3. Anon--I leave politics out of beer. It is one area where I don't see any benefit of dwelling on it. If Gary wants to donate his money to the GOP, viva democracy.

    JW, click over on the side and check out my reviews of Deschutes beer. It's the kind of "venom" breweries love to see. I think Gary can handle a little kidding from a fan.

  4. I'm still trying to figure out what's so strange about Gary saying his favorite beer is from Westvleteren? It's a wonderful Abbey Brewery.

  5. Nothing strange at all about him honestly naming his favorite beer (instead of plugging one of his own) and honestly naming his favorite beer writers (instead of kissing up to the interviewer or her colleague). What are you smoking, Beervana?

  6. Oy, I'm getting killed here. I guess it's because I wrote "professionally" for a few years. Brewery owners are legendary for single-mindedly promoting their product and wooing the press. (If you want the straight dope, you always talk to brewers, not owners.) I found it refreshing and sort of shocking that Gary didn't do either. This post was supposed to be clear on that point, but somehow it's coming off as harsh.

    Sorry to have confused and annoyed...

  7. It's OK, Jeff... Some of us just thrill for the debate... ;-}