One night a group of us went to Anthony’s Pizzeria in Thorton Park for dinner. “Beer, beer, beer … let it flow like water,” sang my friend Mandy. Our waiter had just asked us what we wanted to drink. We wanted Orange Blossom Pilsner.
Ever since this dinner, I find myself singing this little ditty all the time—in the car, in the shower, at breakfast, while getting ready to go out. I’ve recently professed this tune to other waiters—without even realizing it—when asked for my drink order. This has made me think that something is either seriously wrong with me or something is seriously right with beer—let’s just assume it’s the latter.
Besides beer, I also love art and bookstores. So you can imagine my excitement when I was asked to guest host the third Thursday art-show at Urban Think!, my local bookstore. Within ten minutes of my hosting experience, in walked Tom, the creator of Orange Blossom Pilsner. Unbeknownst to me, he had arranged with Jim, the bookstores manager, to give samples of his beer away at my art show. This seemed like a bizarre coincidence considering that just days before we sang a song for beer—Tom’s beer—and now the beer inventor was standing before me. I could even personally congratulate him for his success in making an excellent honey beer—and I did.
Within two samples of Tom’s beer, I had the confidence to ask him to interview with me. He agreed. It took a couple of unreturned e-mails to get the response I wanted. He must have underestimated my perseverance. “I’d be tickled to do an interview,” he finally replied. It was the green light to inquire about anything I ever wanted to know about beer.
*Below are a few excerpts found in Jana Waring’s Who’s That? Discovering Orlando One Interview at a Time. To read and learn everything you wanted to know about beer, buy the book now!
What do you mean by the term microbrew?
I mean craft beers. Beers that are made with high integrity. Beers that accountants don’t oversee. Beers that the brewer looks at himself as an artist and is also trying to make the best possible product. A lot of our mainstream 7-Eleven beers are designed by accountants. They’re figuring out things like, if we use rice instead of malt then it’s cheaper.
The craft beer movement was started with the home brewer’s movement back in 1978. Jimmy Carter made home brewing legal. It was the year I turned 18 years old and also the year I started making home brew. I was old enough to but the ingredients to make beer but not old enough to buy beer. [Laughs]
What kind of home brew kit did you use?
A novice home brew kit is, you know, some malt extract, mixed with water in a pot, then cooled off and blended with more water, then yeast. I look at that like making a TV dinner. You can grab a TV dinner out of the freezer and throw it in the microwave for eight minutes and technically you made dinner. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any good.
What makes beer taste so good?
I almost think that as humans we are conditioned to like beer.
With your experience, can you taste beer and tell exactly what is in it?
To a certain degree. i’ve git a pretty good palate. I actually have judged at the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado. The GABF is one of the biggest beer competitions in the nation, if not the planet. To judge an event like that is one heck of an honor.
* Interview Date 2/11/08