In October of 2013 I was riding solo in Stanley while Maria was overseas for work. While I was “stuck” in Portland, OR and surrounded by an endless supply of great beer I had the pleasure of meeting up with the Jon Davidson and Kimberly Johnson who together make up the Brew Explorers. As you can probably guess by the name they like to drink new beer in new places but also throw in a mix of outdoor activities.
They were kind enough to show me around a small section of Portland’s beer scene as we hit Cascade Brewing, Base Camp Brewing Co, and the Spirit of 77 Bar. Jon has a big personality befitting his front man status as a musician which seems to play quite well with Kimberly’s willingness to try new things even if it puts her in uncomfortable situations. Be sure to follow this entertaining duo as they explore the world of beer and adventure.
TRP: Tell us about yourselves in 140 characters or less. OR in a haiku
JD: Here’s our haiku.
Kimberly and Jon
Love crazy outdoor ventures
And drinking craft beer
TRP: If beer drinking was your “job” what title would you give yourself? If beer drinking is your job, tell us more!
JD: We would be Supreme Magnificent Master Lord And Lady Of The Beer Mug. Actually, our titles would be somewhere along the lines of “Brew Explorers.” We’ve learned a lot about beer, and yet still have a lot more to discover. We hope that someday soon we can make adventure and craft beer exploration our only occupation.
TRP: How did you get involved with craft beer?
JD: We both grew up in the Midwest, where the craft beer scene is finally taking off, but Michigan and Minnesota were definitely a bit behind the curve while we were living there. In my small southwestern Michigan hometown, my idea of a ‘craft beer’ was a Killian’s or a Guinness. I moved to Oregon for the mountains, the culture, the climate, and the adventure side of things, but my mind was quickly blown by the sheer variety and quality of the craft beers that were now at my fingertips. Kimberly had a similar experience when she moved, and both of our palates quickly shifted to appreciate bigger, bolder beers.
TRP: Tell us about your website Brew Explorers?
JD & KJ: The inspiration for our website, initially, was simply to blog about our adventures, both outdoor- and craft beer-related. In the subsequent months since its inauguration, we’ve tried to include more community- and personality-based elements by sharing our own stories, interviewing some brewers, mentioning and giving awards to beer and adventure people that we love, and providing information for those wanting to duplicate our adventures.
We plan to continue to grow the site to include various types of articles that will entertain, inform, and inspire people to get out and grab life by the beer and by the adventure. We recently added “Grab Life Awards,” where we pass out accolades for our favorite brews, adventures, and more on each trip we take; “News, Muse & Reviews,” where we add our thoughts about travel, beer and life, to the blogosphere; and “Friends & Resources,” to show some love to our favorite people we meet along the way and favorite resources we find that help us explore. We also hope to start featuring other Brew Explorers and their stories. Stay tuned at www.brew-explorers.com!
TRP: How did your love of outdoor activities come about?
JD: Personally, I can thank my dad. Even though I grew up in the flat, cornfield-filled state of Michigan, my father made it a point to take us hiking and backpacking at least once or twice a year in the beautiful mountains of Oregon, California, and Colorado. By the time I was 15, I’d climbed 40 mountains over 14,000 feet tall, and my love for the outdoors has expanded to include snowboarding, kayaking, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, skydiving and more since I’ve moved to the outdoor activity mecca of Portland. For me, nature is where I find peace and happiness, not to mention an adrenaline rush. I’m grateful to have someone like Kimberly in my life who lets me coerce her into trying some crazy things with me.
TRP: How do you define beer travel?
KJ: Beer travel is taking a trip for the sake of exploring a place’s craft beer. It’s about learning about a town, city, area of a city, country and its people through the beer they are crafting and what the locals are imbibing. Of course, we, as Brew Explorers, do more than just explore beer when we roadtrip or take a longer trip but beer travel is about taking the trip and choosing the place in order to indulge in its beer.
TRP: Why do you travel for beer?
KJ: We love to travel and explore, and we love beer. We throw our passions together, and we travel for beer. We love to go to beer towns, check out breweries and meet the people behind the craft. We love connecting with people, and the beer community is a great way to learn about a place. We also love to choose places not known for their beer and see what is brewing there. There always seems to be something going on related to beer nowadays.
TRP: What have you learned about beer culture from your travels?
KJ: The craft beer community is so welcoming, genuine and all around amazing people! We love how each and every person in the craft beer industry or who champions the craft beer industry is so creative and passionate about not only beer but life and living a life that they choose. We are very blessed to now find ourselves part of the community and can’t wait to meet more amazing #beerfriends.
JD: We’ve also been struck by how diverse, yet unified, the beer culture is. Geographic location often drives beer preferences, and while people in Amsterdam, for instance, love very different beers than people in Portland do, that unifying love for craft beer helps every beer lover to find common ground.
TRP: What was your first craft beer travel memory?
KJ: We traveled to Astoria, Oregon last August (2013). We wanted to get away for a few days, and I, who had recently moved to Portland at the time, hadn’t been to Astoria yet. After climbing the Astoria column, we hit up Fort George Brewery, where we got a full 24-tap flight of all their beers, a full history lesson of Fort George and background of their beers. After tasting a few, Brew Explorers was born. Right then and there, we decided we would start a blog and explore through beer.
TRP: What is your favorite form of beer travel and why?
KJ: Great question. I’m not sure we know all the ways to beer travel yet. However, we love road trips. Even if we fly somewhere, we love jumping in the car and driving to find all the breweries in the area. If we could and we want to someday, we would love to travel via RV. You and Maria have definitely piqued our interest in this form of travel, and we think it would be super fun. We also have dreams of a round-the-world trip, which would, of course, include exploring beer.
TRP: Where all have you traveled for beer?
KJ & JD: California, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, all over Oregon & Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Amsterdam, China, The Philippines, Australia…
TRP: What is on your beer travel wish list?
KJ: Lots of places, as you can imagine. San Francisco, Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, more of San Diego please, Austin, Grand Rapids, Ireland, Germany (Everywhere), Vancouver (BC), Enterprise (OR), more Bend and Eugene, Milwaukee, Pullman (WA), Portland (ME), Kansas City, Toronto, Seoul, Sheffield, Nottingham, London, Hanoi, Antwerp, Philly, Boston, Asheville, Prague, etc.
TRP: What are your favorite beer styles right now (respectively)?
KJ: IPAs, Imperial IPAs. The hoppier and stronger, the better. I also love stouts and spicy beers, and often times, if the stout and spicy beer are mixed together.
JD: I’ve been an IPAficionado for years, but have recently become enamored with a lot of stouts, porters, sours, Rauchbiers, chile beers, infused beers, meads, IPLs, IRAs, CDAs, strong ales, barleywines, Belgians, winter warmers. I’m on a huge barrel-aged kick right now. I basically love everything but lagers, wheats, and ambers, although I’ve met a few in each of those categories, too, that I’m fond of.
TRP: What have you learned about yourselves from traveling?
KJ: I learn to take risks more. I love traveling because I often times find myself uncomfortable being in new situations, and I love pushing myself in that way. I learn to be more open. I love newness and pushing through the fear. Every time I travel, whether it be brew exploring or otherwise, I learn something new about myself and the world and just how much capacity we all have to learn and grow.
TRP: Is it easier to travel as a couple when beer is involved?
KJ: Well sure, I guess. Of course, anything as a couple is always easier with a little beer involved. However, I wouldn’t say beer is the trick to traveling well with your significant other. I would say three things make it easier, at least for us anyway. (And forgive me for this long answer, I get passionate about this because it isn’t all that easy).
1). Genuinely liking and loving being with your partner. I really enjoy Jon’s company. He is my best friend, and I love having great conversations with him, finding new things to photograph on the road, learning new things with him and pushing ourselves to do new things together.
2). Having the same travel style. Jon and I both love adventures and activities while traveling. If we were to lie around (on a beach, let’s say), it’s simply to rest up for the next adventure. We also both love trying new things, finding new places, and meeting new people. I think it’s critical to love doing the same types of things while traveling.
3). Patience and respect. It’s a no-brainer here. Just like while not traveling, a couple must have patience with each other. Because we are faced with different experiences, and emotions are higher while traveling, this is even more important. If you think you’re being kind, you must be even kinder to each other while traveling.
TRP: Where can we find more about you online?