Talking (Degrees) Plato with Shawn the Beer Philosopher
The Beer Philosopher is a blog with a great collection of beer reviews, stories, and beer knowledge. The articles have a good no-nonsense approach to beer, and his love for beer comes out in each post. Shawn is also the founder of Aleuminati , a forum for beer enthusiasts. If you are looking for a good blog to share your love for beer, seek the beer philosopher!
How did you become the beer philosopher?
Sort of happened into it, really. I have a degree in Philosophy, so there is that aspect to my background going in, but my friends used to tell me, “man, you think about beer an awful lot!” and the two kind of became a correlation. When I began beerphilosopher.com back in early ’06 I used to try to purposefully tie philosophical themes into the articles. After a while, this became a little too predictable, I thought, and I sort of moved away from doing that. I still do, occasionally, but the name stuck. If you know me, you know it’s true too … I DO think about beer an awful lot.
What beer review did you enjoy writing the most?
Man, that’s a tough one. In one respect, I enjoy writing reviews of the beers I’m most passionate about – Rochefort 10, St. Bernardus Abt 12 and the like, but I also really enjoy writing about “wild” beers – maybe I just like to say “brettanomyces,” I don’t know! I wrote a “preview” article on Brewery Ommegang’s Ommegeddon after it was announced and that one was a lot of fun. I tied in apocalyptic themes in to that one … there’s just something fun about beer and the end of the world.
What’s you best beer/night-on-the-town story?
I honestly had so many memorable moments, it’s tough to pick one. How about the most memorable/meaningful … it was nearly two years ago, my wife and I were in Chicago on business and we made our pilgrimage to the Hopleaf, as we’re fond of doing when in the Windy City, for an evening of food and beer. The hopleaf wasn’t crowded, a rarity in itself, and we just sat at the bar, ate steamed mussels and roast duck, and enjoyed an array of fine Belgian ales. We were enjoying ourselves so much, we must have lost track of both the time and our sense of moderation … the last beer I remember having that night was a St. Bernardus Abt 12, interestingly, and it did the trick.
You see, my firstborn son’s name is Owen and he’s almost two years old. Hmmm. Perhaps I should have named him Bernie …?
What prompted you to create Aleuminati?
I sort of see it as a natural extension of beerphilosopher.com, but I always thought it needed it’s own identity. I’ve had the name in my head for a long time now, but never knew what to do with it. I created a t-shirt design I’ve sold in my online shoppe for a while, but that’s a s far as it went. A fellow beer blogger, Eli the Mad Beer Man, got ahold of me and was like “dude, you’ve gotta do something with this concept!” He pointed me to Ning (the social networking platform) and it sort of blossomed from there. Actually, blossomed isn’t really the word – it exploded. We went from no one to a hundred members in about three weeks time! The best part is that we’ve got a lot of idea that are still being fleshed out. I don’t have any desire to be another Beer Advocate, or Rate Beer – those are great sites that I enjoy, but I’m not about recreating the wheel. I want to carve out our own niche with the Aleuminati . I think we’ve got a plan to do that … just wait and see!
What blog accomplishment are you most proud of?
Hmmm … articles from my blog have been picked up in syndication on websites throughout the U.S. and the U.K., for one. That’s a little weird … one of them was even picked up in the Wall Street Journal. Today a syndicated article, tomorrow my face in pen and ink on the WSJ front page, huh! Otherwise, I was very pleased when Larry Bennett at Ommegang contacted me to ask if he could use the articles I’ve written about their beers in the employee newsletter they produce. That was an honor, especially given they are one of my favorite breweries.
I’m excited to see the way the internet brings beer-loving people together. Blogs are a great resource, but they can get a little myopic at times. Since launching the Aleuminati site , and expanding into a comprehensive social networking arena, I have had a blast meeting some very knowledgeable and fun people who share my passion for beer. We have brewers, bloggers, prominent beer writers and plain ‘ol folk that just love good beer. What could be better? I’ll just say to the readers in closing, keep an eye on the Aleuminati thing – if I, and my buddy Eli, have any say in the matter – some very cool things are in the works in the near future.
So there you have it. If you seek to drink wisely, seek the Beer Philosopher!
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Credits and Links
I live in Denver, Colorado. This blog is everything about beer, wine, cider, mead and other spirits.
I am a avid homebrewer and winemaker. I’ve been making my own beer and wine for many years. I started making beer when I was in college (mostly because the drinking age in the United States is 21). My first few beers were horrible. The beers are much better now, and I often supply my neighborhood with free beer! It is a great hobby!