Hello again everyone. I hope the day finds you all well and in good spirits.
Today, I have a special treat for you. I’m going to share my interview with the incomparable, unparalleled, and most genuine Mr. Liquid Bread (aka Chris Phillips).
For those that don’t know, Mr. Liquid Bread has been a figure on the craft beer scene for over 20 years. He got in on the “new” craft beer movement before it was fashionable and, to say the least, he was primed for it… or should I say his liver was primed for it. Chris has never been one to shy away from a great beer or good times. He can regularly be found checking out the latest breweries in and around the great state of Michigan; he’s a bona fide veteran of the Michigan Winter Beer Festivals and he even has his own beer review show (check out MrLiquidBread.com), which is one of the most entertaining to be found anywhere on the Interwebz. He’s also never afraid to tell it like it is. He’ll openly call a brewery out if their product isn’t up to snuff. He’s out there taking it on the chin for all of us politically correct beer drinkers. And… just for that we all owe him a debt of gratitude.
So, without further ado. Let’s meet Mr. Liquid Bread and get an insight on his view of the craft beer industry today, some of his favorite beers and why he thinks Michigan is a craft beer mecca.
What was your first experience with craft beer? Tell me about the first style you ever tried?
Well, that was a long, long time ago…in a state far, far away. Back in the early 1990’s I was living out in Washington state and got introduced to some of the Seattle/Portland heavyweights. Breweries such as Pyramid, Widmer Bros. and Red Hook all dominated the bar scene back then. I think Red Hook ESB was my “goto” beer back then, and even though it’s not a beer from the Pacific Northwest, Anchor Steam might have been floating in there as well.
How long have you been experimenting with craft beer?
Ever since that first experience back in late 1992 in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t think there’s been a lull in my craft beer fetish over the last 23 or so years.
What prompted you to develop your own beer review show?
My brother (who works in the T.V. industry) and I were sitting around in the garage one night, sharing a few beers after helping our mom move into a new place. I started describing flavor and aroma characteristics of the beers we were drinking and after a few beers worth of listening to me, my brother busted in and said “You need to start a beer review show.” After a couple of drunken test runs of recording video on my Blackberry that night, I decided to go for it and build a show.
How did you come up with the name Mr. Liquid Bread?
That same night of drunken Crapberry video test runs, I decided I needed to come up with a name for the show. Since beer is basically “Liquid Bread” and since it’s composed of many of the same ingredients as bread (yeast, grain and water), I figured that was a great name that everyone could associate with beer. And so “Mr. Liquid Bread” was born.
How do you feel about the state of craft beer today? Positive and Negative.
I feel fairly good about the craft beer industry as a whole. I think there are however, several negative aspects that loom on the horizon. On the one hand you’ve got the many craft breweries looking over their competitor’s shoulder to see what they’re doing, or suing a non-competitor just because a name has a similar name or word within it’s name. On the other hand you have this whole ABInbev/SAB/MillerCoors fiasco. Superficially, it looks like a three headed monster that’s trying to dig in as it sees sales of their “macro-product” slowly get smaller as more people turn to craft beer. But what is this super-corporation doing behind the scenes that we can’t see? We saw them influence the Florida politicians a year or so ago by trying to restrict beer sales and the filling of 64oz growlers by Floridian breweries. Is this what’s happening with the new FDA regulations with nutritional information on beer sold in breweries? Are they pushing the federal government to require breweries to place nutritional information on their beer labels? That would require a lot of extra time and require lots more money for the small breweries that distribute to their local area restaurants. Possibly so much time and money that those small breweries pull back on their distribution, leaving room and more sales to the 3 Headed Macro Beer Hydra. Call me Mel Gibson and throw a “Conspiracy Theory” label on that one for now.
Where do you see craft beer heading in the future?
I see larger breweries that are funded by shareholders continuing to get bought out by not just ABInbev et al, but also by other larger breweries and distributors. Similar to what the distributor Constellation Brands just did with Ballast Point. On the positive side, privately owned breweries and nano breweries are really going to flourish. In another 10-15 years, I believe those same nano breweries will be your very own neighborhood brewery as it’s just a short walk from your house, just like the pre-prohibition era had.
What are some of your favorite craft beer styles?
A really good, well balanced Double India Pale Ale (DIPA) or Triple IPA can really tickle my liver. There has to be that slightly sweet, caramel/butterscotch malt base that compliments the hop profile for me to really get excited about it. Another style that I enjoy…a well crafted Bourbon or whiskey barrel aged dark style beer. What I mean by that it has to be a Stout, Porter, Brown or dark Lager that I prefer. Those styles have the “backbone” to really grab hold of the spirits in the barrel and assimilate those great vanilla, dark fruit and boozie characteristics into a complex beer. Lighter style beers just can’t do that and tend to fall short, in my opinion.
Name your top 5 craft breweries.
In no order….
Shorts Brewing Co.
Founders Brewing Co.
Bare Hands Brewing Co.
Odd Side Brewing Co.
Name your top 5 beers.
In no order….
DC Brau – On the Wings of Armageddon
Arcadia Brewing – Shipwreck Porter
Wolverine Brewing – Gulo Cubed
Anchorage Brewing – Galaxy White IPA
Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Stout
What’s the one beer you had that made you say, “Wow, now that…. is a great beer!!!”?
DC Brau – On the Wings of Armageddon. This DIPA is so perfectly balanced, it’s like the hops and malts are making a porno in your mouth.
What’s the one beer that you “secretly” enjoy that may surprise us?
Milwaukee’s Best Light. Yes…the “BEAST!” Lay out all the macro beers and I’ll pick this one every time. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had one in a few years. Back when I started homebrewing, a case of the Beast was sold in extra heavy duty cardboard boxes. So I got 24 bottles and this awesome, almost wooden box to carry them in. To me, this was the most easy drinking, non-flavorful beer that was the closest resemblance to water.
What’s the one beer style that you can’t stand or just can’t get into?
Gose. It’s like a sweaty armpit. If you add some sweet fruitiness to it, it’s a lot more tolerable. But a true Gose all by itself…ah, no way.
What’s it like living in Michigan where craft beer is such a dominant force?
It’s crazy popular here in Michigan. With close to 200 breweries, you can quickly pick up some bad habits with all this beer readily available. You can become a little beer snobbish when you go to a local establishment and their beer selection isn’t up to par. I’m still hoping the Michigan beer industry blows up laterally rather than vertically. Just like with the auto industry, Michigan needs to grow its supporting or ancillary beer companies. Hop and barley production have grown, but not nearly as fast as the craft beer industry as a whole. On a climate perspective, Michigan should be able to go toe to toe with the Pacific Northwest in terms of hop production. But it’s not even close.
Do you have a particular brewery that you’d like to visit someday? Whether in the U.S. or abroad.
I don’t think I have a desire to visit any breweries specifically, but I do have a desire to explore an old world brewery overseas. Seeing the history and nostalgia of a brewery lifestyle from a different culture’s perspective really excites me.
You mentioned that you homebrew. When did you start and what are you brewing at the moment.
I started homebrewing in 1996, but I am a lazy homebrewer. I brew once or twice a year, mostly because I don’t drink my homebrews fast enough (I keg.) The last beer I brewed was a DIPA where I tried to mimic that marriage of hops and sweet malts that I mentioned earlier. It turned out well, but I was low on my ABV.
What does Mr. Liquid Bread have in store for the future?
Hopefully more beer reviews. This summer I started mixing it up with some 120 second beer reviews. This allows me to get more reviews out without spending hours in from of the video editor.
I am also planning on starting a podcast. I’ll probably release an episode every other week. The podcast will be a recap and discussion of beer news, beer releases and events. Stay tuned for the inaugural episode to air sometime during the first quarter of 2016.
How can we get in touch with Mr. Liquid Bread?
The easiest way to get in touch with me is via email. You can reach me at beer@MrLiquidBread.com or stop by my site. However, if you prefer social media, then hit me up at:
Google+: Chris “Mr. Liquid Bread” Phillips
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MrLiquidBread/
There you have it folks. A quick glimpse inside the mind of the one and only Mr. Liquid Bread. I hope you all enjoyed it. I know I did. I want to thank Chris for taking the time to chat with me. It’s always nice to get another craft beer enthusiasts interpretation of beer and the industry.
So, the next time you are bellied up to some obscure bar in Michigan or perhaps you are drunkingly wandering around one of their many beer festivals and you see a guy still going strong and shouting about Notre Dame football as closing time approaches… don’t be surprised if it’s Mr. Liquid Bread. If so, stop him, say “Hello” and buy the guy a beer. You’ll never forget it and you’ll be better off for doing so and having met the man.
Thanks for checking in on the blog everyone. Until next time.