Beer Buzz: Q&A with Beer Writer Christian DeBenedetti

September 2011

With more than a decade of experience writing about and tasting craft beer, Portland, Oregon-based author Christian DeBenedetti has sipped his way through plenty of beer topics. But he wrapped up what is perhaps his loftiest brew feat (to date) with the release of his new book The Great American Ale Trail—a cross-country roadmap to “the best watering holes in the nation.”

DeBenedetti spent about a year visiting more than 400 destinations and downing hundreds of beers to detail the foremost places to drink craft brews across the United States. (Released nationwide on September 9 by Running Press, DeBenedetti says the book has already sold out the first run.)

In short, this guy knows beer.

With 37 pages of his new book dedicated to Colorado brews, he knows local too. We sat down with DeBenedetti earlier this week for some insight into his favorite local picks.

On how the book idea was born: “The idea came from the fact that there were no beer books about places; they were more about beers and brewers. I wanted to make this a very inspirational kind of road map.”

On how to use the book: “It’s not meant to be the end-all, be-all compendium of places. There are many, many places that didn’t make it into the book that were worthwhile—and many that some may not agree about. I really took a personal tack on it and I talked, I listened, and I wandered. That’s what I would encourage any reader to do too.”

Favorite Colorado brewery experience: “I would say my trip from Aspen to Durango—hitting Aspen Brewing Company, Ourey Brewery, and all the Durango breweries. It was just so memorable. The drive itself was really a white-knuckler…but the beers themselves were absolutely worth it, and the people behind the breweries are all warm and welcoming.”

Denver brewery to try: Great Divide Brewing Co.

Why: “They are just doing such excellent beer all across the board. I’m really happy with their stuff every time I try it.”

Brewery beyond Denver to try: New Belgium Brewing Co.

Why: “(Their philosophy) is pretty enlightened. It’s part of what I call the good beer life. You live a good life, beer can be part of it, and that’s what they are all about.” 

Lesser known breweries to try:

Pagosa Springs Brewing Co.

Key Beer: Poor Richard’s and Kayaker Cream Ale

Upslope Brewing Company

Key Beer: Upslope Pale Ale

Asher Brewing Company

Key Beer: Fun Barrel Kriek

Funkwerks

Key Beer: Funkwerks Saison

On life as a beer writer: “Yeah, it’s a job but I’m so lucky. I mean how could I ever feel oppressed by being a traveling beer writer?…I could never complain about my job—it’s the best job in the world.”