Way way out there

Category: JMV

Inspiration in failure


Last week I traveled to Chicago to sit for the Master Cicerone exam – a grueling two day assessment of beer knowledge and sensory acumen that has only been successfully passed by 11 people in the world. I will not be the 12th person to achieve the rank of Master Cicerone. Read the rest of this entry »

Finally It Happened to Me…


I don’t usually like to talk about my ongoing struggles with anxiety and attendant unpleasantness, but that was simply too strange to not share. Read the rest of this entry »

One hobby that I need to get back into


During some smalltalk at a recent beer dinner event, a tablemates said one of her hobbies was “close friends”, and I was really struck by that sentiment. As someone with the reputation of picking up and dropping hobbies with frightening regularity, the idea made me realize how much I’ve neglected that particular hobby recently. Read the rest of this entry »

October 2014 Writing Round-up

I’m shamelessly stealing this from the the great Joshua Bernstein (beer writer for Bon Appetit and author of The Complete Beer Course) who posts a monthly recap of his writings for various publications on his personal website. An index of sorts. I had a pretty slow month writing-wise in October, so I figured this would be as good a s time as any to start keeping track of what I’ve had published around the web. Read the rest of this entry »

A Beer Writer’s Notebook


I should probably mention the tumblr blog that I started a couple of months ago to collect all the snippets from my beer reporting that don’t find their way into a story or blog post.

It’s mostly a collection of tweets, images, and the occasional link or thought too-long for Twitter but too-inconsequential to actually blog about. If you’re into the whole tumblr thing come on over and follow the blog!

A long awaited reckoning


Well, here goes nothing.

I’m about to break the seal on a iPhone 6, but I’m not really sure if I want to. Read the rest of this entry »

Three Years Gone and Still Teaching Me Lessons

av artsy

It has been three years since everything changed. Since my moms died.

“Everything” might sound hyperbolic, but from my perspective it is pretty accurate. The first months after that phone call I can only remember as fragmented blur. Like a watercolor painting broken into puzzle pieces. There was paperwork and bureaucracy and an endless flow of tears. The shock threw me into a spiral of anxiety, hypochondria, and illness that took months to recognize as grief’s sinister work. Read the rest of this entry »

A Lesson in Music and Pain

I remember an afternoon in 1992 when my mother once took me to The Wherehouse (remember that place?) to buy a CD . Grunge had swept across my adolescent consciousness, and I was quickly gravitating towards the darker, heavier bands.  I ended up with Alice In Chains’ Dirt.


We listened to the album in the car that afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »

The Serial Hobbyist and the Pursuit of Knowledge

I’ve always had an obsessive personality. Thankfully there isn’t a lot of compulsions in my particular flavor of OCD, just the racing circular thoughts rattling around in my head. One of my earliest attempts to deal with my brain’s particularly messed-up wiring was to adopt different hobbies. And by “adopt” I mean race forcefully down the rabbit-hole of whatever pastime I was picking up. For many years this was a subconscious move. A desperate attempt to distract myself from my own thought-spirals. With age I’ve become more aware of what I’m doing but no less able to predict or control the various Hobbies. My interest in them comes on quick and burns bright, and then there is an inevitable cooling off that suddenly becomes disinterest. This shift has frustrated me for years as I’ve looked inward to try and decode how one day I can spend hours involved with an activity only to seemingly lose all desire to continue the next day. I often wonder how common this serial-hobbyist mentality is in my peers, though I have found very little discussion of similar tendencies on the internet. Read the rest of this entry »

Better than Bathtub Gin

After too many years of telling myself that I can’t pull-off home brewed beer in the tiny apartment kitchens that I’ve had foisted on me in Hollywood I was finally convinced by Beau to take the plunge and get back into brewing.

Making things has always been important to me, and sharing my creations even more so. Brewing beer brings the same joy that I get from cooking a meal for friends and family but with the added air of mystery. Brewing often seems like alchemy; grain and flowers are transformed into a golden elixir that makes the world a more beautiful place. But behind the magic of fermentation is simple science and math and a process that I really enjoy.

My brew-partner and I have done a lot of brainstorming about what we want to get out of this endeavor, and we have the pilot-batch of a Belgian Pale Ale ready to be dry-hopped and an English Mild getting boiled-up today. I’m excited.