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Friday, October 15, 2010

The Man Behind Brewpublic

Next week, Brewpublic celebrates its second anniversary. Hard to believe--it's become an institution and feels like it's been around a lot longer. I understood that Brewpublic was a different kind of blog when I found a free bumper sticker for the site at the County Cork. Next week's festivities (which I'll discuss in a separate post) demonstrate the point: events every night featuring rare beers in what Brewpublic dubs Killer Beer Week.

The brainchild behind Brewpublic is Angelo De Ieso (pronunciation below!), but you knew that. Angelo's ubiquitous. I have called him "the beer gypsy" because not an event goes by Angelo-free. But maybe this is a better analogy: Angelo's a modern day Don Younger, and all of Portland's his Horse Brass. He is as much host as blogger.

Probably everyone feels they have a special connection to Angelo. Mine comes from a love of Mainers (like Angelo, my wife's from there) and the Red Sox. But probably nobody knows the whole story, so, to get ready for the big week, I sent a few questions his way. Enjoy--

Where are you from?
I was raised in and around Dover-Foxcroft, Maine in Piscataquis County. It's about halfway between Bangor and Moosehead Lake. I was born near Worcester, Mass but moved to Maine as an infant. My family has a strong connection to this area and my mom still lives there along with most of my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

Do you have brothers/sisters? Where's your family now?
I have one awesome brother, Mario. He's two years older. He lives a mile from me with his lovely wife Natalie and my niece Neva.

What brought you to Oregon?
I kind of landed here on a whim. Like the Pilgrims searching for newfound freedom, I left New England after high school and a failed college try. I lived in the Bay Area for a few years in Oakland and San Francisco before heading northbound for Oregon.

How did you become a beer geek?
I give a lot of credit to my friend Shane who is a seasoned pro in the grocery store industry. When I firsted moved to Oregon in 1998, I knew no one here and Shane turned me on to the wonders of craft beers available at the time like Full Sail Amber, Spaten Optimator, BridgePort IPA, and several Deschutes offerings. It also rekindled an interest I had in New England beers like Samuel Adams and Ipswitch Ales as well as California beers like Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada. Shane has remained an avid homebrewer and I am grateful he has instilled an appreciation of some more flavorsome brews than my teenage go-to, Mickey's.

Do you get to have any social life at all that doesn't involve beer?
What is this you speak of? Actually yes. For some time I was deeply entrenched in the local independent music scene here. I still enjoy a smorgasbord of music styles and like going to shows (though I am not nearly as geeked out on it as my friend Carl who owns Belmont Station).

Why did you start Brewpublic?
Well, I began beer scribing after meeting Dave Dronkowski, formerly of Guest of Tap, which ran weekly in the Portland Tribune. Dave gave me a shot at writing to a larger audience. Also, Joy and Chris at Belmont Station encouraged me to contribute to their beer blog. Back then John Foyston of the Oregonian and you were the only beer bloggers I knew of. I'd read Lisa Morrison, Abram Goldman-Armstrong, and Mitch Steele (sic?) of the NW Brewing News and dream of being read like them. I pitched some stuff to publications like Celebrator, NWBN, and Ale Street News, but nothing came to fruition. After a few weak blogspot offerings of my own, my work for Dave really helped me to find a voice and garner some readership. Then in 2008, my best friend from college, Aaron suggested we develop our own site where we could work for ourselves. I've felt encouraged by so many friends and beer geeks to continue and haven't looked back since.

When you started Brewpublic, it was a one-man show. Pretty soon, I started to see Margaret Lut's name under some of the posts.
Margaret has been my right-hand woman and my biggest supporter through every facet of my life (can you hear Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" playing in the background?). She is responsible for many of the photos on the site (most of the better ones) and is a great field reporter. Her day job with the state of Oregon has allowed Brewpublic to travel to all corners of Oregon and even other places nationally. She's my best friend and Brewpublic wouldn't be what it is today without her.

If you could move one brewery from another part of the country to Oregon, which would it be?
I'd move Walking Man into Oregon so they'd be included in the SNOB events more often. Actually, I enjoy the fact that you can travel and discover new beers. It's a part of the adventure and mystique of being a beer hunter. That said, I wouldn't mind having more beer from White Birch brewing in Hooksett, NH. I think they're on to something very special.

What's the most underrated beer in Oregon?
Underrated by who? The geeks like us or the general consumer base? I think Pyramid/MacTarnahans despite a tragic and perpetual identity crisis gets overlooked by both crowds. They're brews are extremely well-built and utterly delicious. I really wish they were still called Portland Brewing.

What are your goals for Brewpublic--both in the next year and long-term?
That's hard to say. I would like to organize more events and expand to more readers. I am interested in watching Web-based "blogs" develop more journalistic credibility. It's seems obvious to me that print media is a dying entity and that the Internets are the future, especially in our region where sustainability is valued. Further, being online allows for more immediacy and up to date information. I realize it might be nice to hold a staple-bound paper product in your hands. It's frustrating to know that fluffy monthly or quarterly print beer publications can pull from what we beer bloggers put forth on a daily/weekly basis and that many potential advertisers still view mass reproduced physical formats with more weight. Those are nice time-passers, and the more support of craft beer the better, but gravely lack the immediacy that hardworking bloggers offer. I think advertisers will continue to realize the legitamacy of some online beer resources as we advance into the information age where social networking is becoming more prolific. I'd like to collaborate with other area beer writers and bloggers to foster a greater resource for diehard beer geeks and help organize a collective of people who write about and care about craft beer for all the right reasons.

Tell us a little known fact about yourself.
I've seen every episode of Cheers, probably at least thrice.

Who's your favorite Red Sox player, current and historical?
Funny, I am in the middle of reading Bill "Sports Guy" Simmons' "Now I Can Die in Peace." I've got so many favorite Sox so I'll mention just five. Pedro Martinez: his 1999 season and the years he was in his prime go unparalleled. His energy and ability to produce in so many big games makes his an obvious top pick. Ted Williams: I've never seen him play obviously, but to any Sox diehard, the Kid was the epitome of greatness--plus he was the last player in baseball to hit .400. David Ortiz: Big Papi's a man who could never do anything again and all is forgiven. His display in the 2004 ALCS makes his the clutchest Red Sox to ever where the uni. Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd: When I was a young boy I'd emulate his peppery windup and fiery persona. It broke my heart that he never got his due during the '86 Series because he was a true Dirt Dog. He wound up playing low level pro for the Bangor Blue Ox in the 90's. He was super cool. Bill Buckner: So much of Red Sox history circulated around tragedy until they broke the curse in '04. Most people only remember Buckner's big gaff in Game 6 of the '86 Series, but I remember going to see him play and being amazing how he could rake. In '87 I got his autograph at a game at Fenway and always felt sad for him that his life was marked by one error. Besides, it was John McNamera's fault for leaving him in that game when Dave Stapleton was the go-to defensive closer. Okay, so maybe I should start a Red Sox blog....(exhale)

How do you pronounce your last name?
/dee AY so/ (oh yeah, it's a capital "i" not a lower case "L")

Thanks, Angelo, and happy birthday to Brewpublic!


  1. No Wade Boggs? oh, yah, he went and soiled his reputation by playing for the pinstripes.

  2. Nice article! Loved the wish for ol' Mackies & Pyramid to go back to Portland Brewing... and I have to agree with the statements.

    Happy Birthday Brewpublic!

    I have had the opportunity to meet Angelo at The Beer Mongers.. and he is a great guy. Saw him busting his butt at the Barrel House too not too long ago.

  3. Sounds like you're interviewing a character from a Chuck Palahniuk novel. Where's the deviate sexual fascination?