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Wednesday, September 14, 2011
92Y Culture Klatsch Q&A With Chris O’Leary

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Chris O’Leary is a homebrewer, beer enthusiast and the editor of BrewYorkNewYork.com. He’s also the latest subject of the 92Y Culture Klatsch Q&A, where we find out about his media and culture diet. Some spoliers: He’s still an ink-and-paper guy when it comes to books, doesn’t watch that much TV, and his coffee table has more coasters than magazines. Tomorrow, September 15, he’ll be at 92YTribeca for a local beer tasting, when he’ll to take you on a tour of New York State’s many beers from some of our state’s 65 small breweries.

Read more below.

Where do you go for news when you start your day? 
I refresh The New York Times app on my iPhone, and usually scan it before I even get out of bed (usually, while simultaneously listening to WCBS-AM). Then, I check Google to see if there were any mainstream media hits for “craft beer” overnight. In fact, just recently, The Wall Street Journal had a piece about beer and food pairing. I’m not craving a beer in the morning, but I am craving beer news.

What are your favorite websites?
I’m constantly using BeerAdvocate.com and RateBeer.com to check on beer reviews, new releases, and events. I don’t necessarily use other people’s individual reviews as a guide to picking beer, but if a beer collectively has a lot of reviews and a high rating, it’s probably pretty darn good.

How much do you use Twitter and Facebook (or other social networking services)?
Incessantly. Probably too much. My pointer finger probably gets tired of me hitting “refresh” on Twitter to see new posts. I follow about 500 people on there, from casual beer drinkers to breweries and bars to certified Ciccerones (the beer equivalent of a Sommelier), and every bit of knowledge they offer is helpful for guiding what I write about, what’s trending in the beer industry, and where New York craft beer drinkers are hanging out.

What book are you currently reading (or the last one you read)? Print or digital?
I’m still an ink-and-paper guy when it comes to books. Beer books are a bit obvious, but I’m also interested in urban planning. I’m just getting through a second reading of Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, the biography of Robert Moses. I love it, but it’s a 1,200-page monster. I get a workout just carrying it around with me.

What magazines do you subscribe to?
I subscribe to Draft and Beer Advocate, and not much else. My coffee table is pretty bare; it has more coasters than magazines.

What are your current (or all time) favorite television shows?
“30 Rock,” “The Daily Show,” and “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” are just about the only shows on my DVR. I’m not getting high and mighty here, I just don’t watch that much TV, and now that you’ve asked, I’m realizing I probably spend way too much on cable for how little I consume.

What’s the last movie you saw?
On New Year’s Day, I made a resolution to see more movies this year than I did in 2010 (none). I fulfilled that the same day when I saw Casino Jack. I haven’t seen a movie in theaters since.

What’s the last performance (dance/opera/theater) you attended?
I somehow finagled my way into The Book of Mormon earlier this year. I’m really, really glad I did. Everything you’ve heard about it is true, including the part about making plans to see it in 2013 when you can finally get tickets again.

What’s the last music purchase you made?
I just downloaded the new Gomez album a couple days ago. That may not seem like a big deal, but I rarely download a whole album. It’s very eclectic, since the band’s members individually write songs and perform lead vocals, so it’s like getting songs from a few bands for the price of just one.

What radio shows or podcasts do you listen to?
That’s my main source of entertainment. I’m a huge fan of the podcast “Too Beautiful to Live,” which is hosted by Luke Burbank, who is a regular panelist on NPR’s “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me,” and has occasionally appeared on “This American Life.” I also regularly stream Seattle radio station KEXP when I’m above ground. When beer is on my mind (most days), I listen to the weekly “Beer Sessions Radio” podcast, a great New York-based beer podcast hosted by Jimmy No. 43’s Jimmy Carbone and the Blind Tiger’s Dave Broderick.

What’s your favorite piece of art on display in your home?
I grew up in Rhode Island, and last time I was home, my mom gave me a black-and-white print of an old can of Narragansett beer that she bought at the Wickford Art Festival. Narragansett was brewed in my hometown starting in 1890 and is an iconic brand in New England that has had a successful revival in recent years. It proudly hangs over my homebrewing equipment.

Where do you go / what do you do to “disconnect”?
You’ll have to pry my iPhone from my cold, dead hands! But seriously, you literally have to take me to a place without a cell phone signal to get me to truly disconnect… which is why I love to hike in the Catskills. Best of all, there are some great brewpubs in the Hudson Valley, like the Gilded Otter in New Paltz and Peekskill Brewery in Peekskill, when you can reward yourself with a beer at the end of the hike.

Join Chris O’Leary at 92YTribeca on September 15 for a local beer tasting, when he’ll to take you on a tour of New York State’s many beers from some of our state’s 65 small breweries.

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