In my day job, I work for an information security company as a systems engineer.  I hold a few certifications, the most exciting of which is the CEH or Certified Ethical Hacker.  I have had a life-long curiosity for how computers work, security, hacking, making, electronics, and other nerdy hobbies.  A few years ago I discovered Nerdcore hip-hop and have become a fan of and friends with a few nerd core rappers.  Nerdcore rappers write songs about everything I’m a fan of: hacking, cracking, computers, social awkwardness, science fiction, pirates, ninjas, literature, and just about everything nerdy.  I don’t mind being called a nerd and I wear it as a badge of honor.  You could definitely call me a beer nerd and I would take no offense at all.

North Coast Brewing's Brother Thelonious - Belgian Style Abbey Ale

I remember the first time I drank a true craft beer.  I arrived at my friend Chris’s apartment, where I immediately noticed he was drinking what looked like a beer.  He was standing next to the bottle, which had what looked like a monk in sunglasses holding an odd shaped glass and a skull.  Immediately, Chris demands: ”Here. Drink this.” … “What is it?” … “Beer.  Try it.” … “This is wonderful!  It doesn’t taste like beer.  It tastes good.  What is it called?” … “Brother Thelonious”  and a craft beer drinker was born.  Chris introduced me to different styles of beer, one at a time.  Hefeweizens, stouts, porters, Belgian ales, lambics, brown ales, pilsners, tripels, you name it, I tried it.  I didn’t even know what I was trying half of the time, but I knew I liked it!

I thought beer was something you had to “get used to” by consuming mass quantities to the point of inebriation.  I had only ever drank beers from the big brewers: Milwaukee’s Best, Coors, Budweiser, Keystone, etc.  I had tried a Sam Adams Boston Lager once but my juvenile pallet couldn’t handle the robust hops and rich malts.  I went back to Miller Lite.  I would get upset if I went somewhere and instead of Miller Lite I had to drunk Bud Light.  Chris opened my eyes to a whole new world and I was hooked.

Jimmy & JoAnna

I met Jimmy at the beer pairing dinners at HomeField Grill run by beer maven Walt Powell and Executive Chef Scott Reid.  My wife Monica and I had been to beer pairing events before that were themed around specific breweries before, but that was in Austin, and HomeField Grill is mere blocks from our house.  After the first event, we were instant fans.  The beer paired with the food so well, and even when the pairing wasn’t a spot on match, the food itself was worlds apart from any other beer dinner we had been to.  Walt has this uncanny ability to obtain hard to find, rare beers, even in the extremely restrictive Texas market with it’s near draconian beer laws. Scott is a self-made chef who isn’t afraid to push the boundaries and come up with truly innovative dishes, designed for a selected brew.  The duo of Walt and Scott is the best kept secret in the culinary world.  We have made lots of friends at the HomeField beer dinners and we always look forward to meeting new people who share our passion for great beers.

Jimmy has an amazing personality and a warm inviting presence that draws anyone within earshot close.  If Jimmy can’t make you laugh, you are probably not human.  Jimmy and his fiancé JoAnna became fast friends with my Monica and I.  We would regularly stay after the beer dinners finished to chat, debate the merits of the evenings culinary creations, and explore more beers.  I have lost count of the times that we have had to practically be pushed out the door of HomeField and Flix.

Jon, Monica, and Ron Extract

Jon and Monica bump into Ron Extract of JesterKing Brewery at Twisted Pine in Boulder

Chris also had the privilege of introducing me to my wife, Monica.  Monica is a home brewer and the love of my life!  She shares my passion for beer and is a pretty damn good home brewer in her own right.  We have been together now for eight years, though it only seems like yesterday when I first met her.  Monica and I went on vacation in Boulder, CO and toured many breweries.  You can check out the photos we took in my Flickr photostream.  If you’re ever abroad enjoying beer, don’t forget to represent you’re home town.  You never know who you will bump into.

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