Continued from Zane Lamprey Interview – Pt. 1 The Iron Liver
Philippe: We should probably talk a bit about craft beer since that’s what this blog is all about. Would you consider yourself a beer guy? When you find yourself thirsty, what do you drink?
Zane Lamprey: I am a beer guy. I’m definitely a beer guy. I like my cocktails but I’m also really into beer. I haven’t come out with a beer yet because there’s so much good stuff out there already and quite frankly, it’s already made. If I want a good beer, I have a really great selection to pull from. Compare that to what you could find 10 years ago and it’s just amazing. I love the fact that if I wanted to have a different kind of beer every single day, than I could.
Philippe: I’m going to have to take your word on state of the beer scene 10 years ago since I was still only in middle school at the time.
Zane: Well I wasn’t, trust me.
Philippe: Since Three Sheets was based mostly internationally, you must have travelled all over by now right?
Zane: Three Sheet’s is pretty much International while Drinking Made Easy is about North America. Last year, we did the US plus Vancouver and this year we’ll be shooting in three locations in Canada, I think we’re going to Montreal, Quebec, and maybe Ottawa.
Philippe: Ya they’re making some killer beer up there, for example, Unibroue.
Zane: Well there isn’t much to do up there but play hockey and drink beer.
Philippe: Ya well you’re talking to a Canadian so I think you should be careful what you say…
Zane: Listen, I grew up in Syracuse which is even higher than some places in Canada.
Philippe: Well, I think we have a lot in common between beer drinking and hockey. You definitely have an emphasis on craft beer in your show. During one of your earliest episodes, you were in Belgium drinking some really good stuff (looked like Westvleteren 12 to me).
Zane: That’s when it really happened. That’s when I saw that there was more than just the fizzy yellow stuff. I’m pulling a line from Greg Koch of Stone by the way (of course). That was a real eye opening experience and I’ve learned so much more about Belgian beer consumption since I’ve left. When I was there, it was all too much to take in.
Philippe: You didn’t seem to like the Three Founteinen Kriek very much in that episode. Was that your first sour?
Zane: I’m still not crazy about the Kriek but that was more of a cherry thing. I actually really like sours. If that’s what it was than maybe my palate wasn’t ready for it. I just wasn’t crazy about the overly sugary flavored beers. When I was doing Three Sheets, I was so International that a lot of the people’s national beer was a lager. I was learning more about different cultures than I was about the craft beer scene. Here I am internationally, learning about beer, but I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on back home because I wasn’t at home. I was also shooting a show for the Food Network too so I was always gone.
When I started doing Drinking Made Easy, I really got an eye opener to all of the amazing things that have been happening in the US. I got paid to travel around on a bus, with my buddies, and try craft beer in 24 different cities including Portland. I really had amazing experiences and I was able to take in all that the craft beer scene in america has become. It wasn’t until I got home that I was able to absorb what had just happened. In season 2 and especially season 3, I have a way better appreciation and understanding of the craft beer scene in the US.
Philippe: So how have you notice a change from region to region in terms of craft beer?
Zane: I think there is less of a difference from region to region than people would like there to be except that the IPA gets hoppy’er as you work your way West. Other than that, there are people who are doing really cool things everywhere. I don’t think that our palate is really any different in the four corners of our Country or right in the middle. I think that people have different preferences whether its hoppy, malty, lighter or dark. I think people have their different preferences all across the country, I just don’t think there’s something specific to any region.
Philippe: Where do you like to drink beer?
Zane: I like drinking with the brewer, just how the same way that I like drinking with the distiller. Good beer is good beer and a good spirit is a good spirit. I don’t know about a “great” beer. I’ve had a few beers that I really liked and I’ve had a few spirits that I really liked but I say that they’re really good. I don’t think that there’s anything “great”. Beer is supposed to taste like beer and people who pull that off do something that is not easy.
I love drinking with the brewer so that they can talk me through the process. It’s even better when they tell me about the beer before I even taste it. They get me salivating and excited about it and they tell you how it’s about to taste and then they go through the genesis of the beer, how they chose what they chose and why they chose what they chose and even the different incarnations that they went through. And then you get this amazing experience, and a drink.
That’s sort of the philosophy behind Drinking Made Easy. I know we’re going out and having fun but I want people to understand what it is that they’re drinking so that they can appreciate it more. To understand more about something is to be able to begin appreciating it. I think people need to appreciate and understand more about what they’re drinking from beer to wine to spirits and cocktails.
Philippe: You nailed it. As long as someone there knows about the beer that I’m going to drink, I’m in heaven.
Zane: And in that moment, their IPA is the best, and each of their beers is the best. It happens more in the spirit community where people bag on other brands. In the beer community, people don’t do that and in the craft beer industry people are generally appreciative of each others stuff.
Philippe: That’s true, there’s definitely a camaraderie aspect to it. Do you also notice that when you travel across regions? For example, when you’re in Portland, do you hear about San Diego beers?
Zane: People in Portland will talk about Portland beers. You’ll be at a brewery and they’ll talk bout another breweries and even say great things about breweries in other states. It’s a really cool industry. The people are cool and the product is cool.
Philippe: Let’s move on to something on the more professional side. Have you or your staff ever been carried out of a bar?
Zane: No I don’t think so. I may have dragged Steve out of a bar but as much as we get silly about it, we’re not irresponsible. You could spot check us on any location that we’ve ever shot and ask them if they’d have us back. The answer is always yes. We’re definitely professional and know that we’re doing a job. Steve might forget that but the rest of us don’t.
Philippe: There’s a lot of talk about respecting beer and at certain points it seems like sometimes you guys don’t really care that much.
Zane: It’s funny because I went in to talk to Greg Koch at Stone and he was very serious about it. Steve was completely on the other side of the spectrum and I was in the middle. I was sort of the mediator between the two of them but it made for great tv and Greg knows that. I’ve talked to him and he definitely knows that and he was very entertaining. I’m not super serious about any of the stuff that I’m doing. I can be passionate about it but I’m not super serious about it. There’s some people who I’ve talked to and they’re like for trekkies about beer. That’s fine but I’m just not one of them.
Philippe: There is the whole beer geekery vs beer snobbery going on too.
Zane: And that’s a very fine line. You never really know where the person is right off the bat but it will reveal itself. But again, to each his own, that’s fine by me, that’s just not who I am.
Philippe: So what’s it like, drinking for a living? How many days a week do you go out to bars to either film or do “research”? What’s it like behind the scenes?
Zane: Typically, I’ll go out when we’re shooting which is during a season. I’ll go out for an event, which there are a lot of by the way. It’s more of a professional thing than going out to grab a beer. At the office here, we work a regular work day. I need to be pretty clear-headed for the things that I do but there’s always tastings going on or someone writing about a certain product. We went through 50 incarnations of the rum before we locked down the recipe. In terms of leisurely drinking, it’s not that often though you might catch me at the Lakers game and they have a bar.
Philippe: When you visit a new city, how do you find out where to go? Do you call on somebody from around there or do you do your own research?
Zane: The producers do a lot of research. We start shooting in May so at this stage of the game, it’s all research. They also reach out to people and people reach out to us. They put out a list of all the cities that we’re going to and there are a lot of phone calls and emails that go back and forth between us and people in that region. The tough part is that we shoot a half hour show so we have to lock it down to only six locations. Most often, people will tell us that we nailed it but they’ll also tell us, “Oh you should have gone to this place.” Generally speaking, the six that we choose are the most appropriate places to really grasp the broad scope of drinking in that area.
If we go to Louisville for example, we’re not just going to do bourbon. I also want to get at what the beer scene is like and what the mixology scene is about. Of course it will have a Louisville spin to it but it isn’t just going to focus on bourbon. I really want to paint a picture about what its like to drink in that city as opposed to just picking one specific thing. It’s my responsibility to the viewer to give them the most entertaining show possible, and if someone isn’t into bourbon than I don’t want them to be bored the whole episode.
Philippe: Plus not everyone there drinks bourbon, that’s just not how it is.
Zane: Ya and they make other stuff there too. I want to learn about what’s new, what’s cool, what’s old, and what people are drinking. It’s really hard to do that with only six locations so around now, the producers are going through about 50 locations and bringing it down to six.
Philippe: What kind of other projects do you have going on?
Zane: We have five TV shows that are all drink related which are in different stages of development. We also have the events going on like Zane Patrick’s Day and Zanetoberfest in the Fall. Zane Patrick’s Day is a pretty big event and today we were talking about the details of the event. It’s not enough for me to say, “Here’s an open bar, go drink.” I’m the good times ambassador. It’s up to me to make this a night that people remember (or forget if that’s your intention).
Philippe: Closing off, the question that all my readers are dying to know. Budweiser, Miller, or Coors?
Zane: At which stage in my life?
Philippe: How about now? Or you can pick a completely different beer.
Zane: Right now, I have four of Mission Brewery’s beers in my fridge. I also have a Maui Brewing Company Coconut Porter which is probably what I’m about to crack open after this. That’s not your American lager if that’s what you wanted.
Philippe: No way, that’s a better choice anyway.
Big thanks to Zane for taking the time out of his busy schedule to speak with us. It was truly a pleasure. Be sure to catch him on his show, Drinking Made Easy on Wednesday’s at 8 pm on HD Net.
Read the first part of the interview at Zane Lamprey Interview – The Iron Liver
If you’re in the San Diego area than celebrate Zane Patrick’s Day with Zane Lamprey and his crew in San Diego as they take over Mission Brewery tonight and continue tomorrow at McFadden’s downtown. For tickets and more information visit Drinking Made Easy.
Philippe Gagnon is the founder and writer for Craft Beer Culture. Currently residing in Orange County, California, you can find him at the local brewery drinking craft beer or online through Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
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