The Corkscrewer Report is proud to welcome Brian Skaggs, one of the most brilliant beer writers we know, to the team as Senior Editor, Craft Beer.
Along with our Craft Beer Editor, John Antolos, we’ve elected this dynamic duo to guide us, inspire us, entertain us, and enlighten us through this fascinating journey of the Craft Beer scene that is gripping every civilized corner of our globe. We hope our readers will enjoy the beer coverage Brian and John are serving up alongside our signature wine content.
It was a cold night in November 1993 when Brian found himself in The Pub, a members-only bar at the University of Chicago of which he was not a member (they granted him membership three years later). Under pressure from Victor, the oracle behind the bar, Brian quickly picked Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (1991 vintage) from the enormous, at the time, 150-plus bottle list on offer. “It was the same price as Pete’s Wicked and twice the alcohol content,” Brian offers up as his rationale for picking the toffee-flavored, aggressively hoppy and perfectly balanced barleywine that’s still released every January. There was no looking back after that … except to remember it’s a bad idea to pound four Bigfoots in ninety minutes.
It’s pretty obvious beer and the beer scene has been a driving force behind Brian’s life since the Bigfoot epiphany. He’s had adventures hunting down out-of-the way breweries before weddings with a flat tire. Every work trip or vacation itinerary has factored in the consumption of local beers and visits to breweries. When he and his partner were first discovering Sonoma County in the late 1990s, he insisted on visiting Bear Republic and Russian River, these tiny breweries tucked in amongst sleepy Healdsburg and Korbel/Lake Sonoma wineries, respectively. Brian will brag about how he’s so hip, he remembers when you could still get a table at Russian River Brewing Company, let alone a Pliny the Younger six weeks after release—or how he made his pregnant wife drive him around rural Vermont so he could try this Heady Topper beer when Alchemist still had a brewpub!
If you can divert Brian from talking brew, he’s sure to hit you with extended soliloquies about the greatness of The Name of This Band is Talking Heads, Lightning Bolt’s Wonderful Rainbow, Superchunk’s Indoor Living and Radiohead’s The Bends—and also the greatest movie double-feature of all time: My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies.