It seems a lot of things that strike me as interesting come from people trying something new, often on their own.
It’s also true with this:
This is the product of one Tim Russell. He’s 28 and works as a project manager for a defense contractor. It’s free, it’s a small-batch magazine and it’s new. Less new now than when I originally meant to post this, but still. Worth checking out.
Tim seems to be good people. And not just because I keep running in to him places. Fat Head’s on the South Side, Bocktown in the Ikea Kingdom off the Parkway West, Blue Dust in Homestead. Dude’s everywhere.
He was kind enough a while back to answer a few questions about what he’s doing. His answers are as he typed them.
Our little Q&A:
Eatsburgh: How did you first get interested in beer? How did the more you learned about it change how you tasted things?
Tim Russell: It all started on a business trip to England about 5 or 6 years ago. Some of the people that I was working with took my co-workers and I out for dinner and some beers afterwards. They got me to try some euro lagers with more flavor than what I was used to, like Peroni and Grolsch. Meanwhile, I had a case of Natty Light in the fridge at home. But I liked these a lot more. The “aha” moment probably came when I had a Boddington’s on nitro draft. I bought a case from a local distributor as soon as I got home and I was hooked. I was able to get some co-workers to split a case every payday just to be able to taste as many different styles and brands as I could. Like a lot of other people, what made the beer styles different was always of interest. So, reading about the ingredients and how different flavors were achieved led me into homebrewing, which obviously not only gave me even more insight into the brewing process, but more freedom to try some styles that I could only read about at the time.
Eatsburgh: How did you begin — just begin — to educate yourself?
Eatsburgh: At what point did you become more of an evangelist? Was it first a desire to share information about good beer — or good local beer?
TR: I’ve always been the beer geek among my friends. I took pride in being able to educate and introduce people to things they didn’t know they were going to like so much.
Eatsburgh: Describe Craft Pittsburgh, both what it is and what you’d like it to become.
TR: It’s a free-circulation publication that will be placed at a lot of the good craft beer spots in and around Pittsburgh. It’s being issued on a quarterly basis. It’s pretty much something you can pick up and read over a beer at the bar or take home after grabbing a six pack for takeout.
The idea came after I was reading Brewing News, another free pub, but circulated at a regional level. I’d always pick it up when I could, but started getting frustrated with the lack of coverage in the Pittsburgh area. It seemed like every other area in the Great Lakes region was getting more attention. I knew there was so much more going on, but Pittsburgh wasn’t getting the coverage in this form of media that it deserved. Besides that, there was information was out there, mostly online, but it was scattered. I found myself checking at least five or six different websites just to get an idea if anything was coming up. So a comprehensive calendar of beer events was something else that I was happy to introduce.
I also thought that going into print was a medium that could grab a more casual demographic; again, the guy having a beer alone at the bar or taking a sixer home. Not everyone is online, or at least checking up on every good beer and food blog the area has to offer.
The content is going to be comprised of beer news, events coverage, reviews, homebrewing, etc., but I want it all to have a local spin. Events will be local. Beer reviews will be for those that are locally available. Someone asked me if we’d write something about growing hops, but only because he didn’t know what hops would actually fare well in the local soil and climate.
After doing some coverage for these events so far, I feel like a lot of people don’t appreciate why they’re there. Most of these events are charitable with great causes, but people overlook that a lot of times. So we’re making an effort to raise more awareness for the causes, not just the beer.
I want it to become resource for the Pittsburgh beer community. Something I take pride in is the sense of community the area has, but not just geographically. All the subcultures and interest groups have their own sense of community as well. We have a great craft beer community here already, but I want to do my part to help it grow.
Eatsburgh: When you decided to start a magazine, how did you start? What were the challenges? How did you find the designers, artists, printers, etc., you would need?
TR: Since it’s going to be distributed for free, the hardest part is getting funding from advertising. I work as a project manager and have some background in pricing and contracts, so figuring my expenses wasn’t difficult. I put a few quotes out and was happy with the examples of some design work the printer that I chose had to offer. Once I had that out of the way, I spent a lot of time just meeting with potential advertisers to gauge interest and try to raise some support. The interest was definitely there, but we still needed to show a product. I had all the ideas for the content for a pilot issue. We just needed to write it. I had an idea of some writers I wanted to get on board. Some weren’t realistic. Some were, but either fell through or hadn’t materialized. At that point I had already taken to twitter and came across a few great writers by coincidence. That’s quite ironic, since I used to be pretty anti-social media. But things have been falling in place in an uncanny way.
Eatsburgh: Who do you hope the audience for this is?
TR: I assume they’d be local, but it doesn’t have to be anyone in particular, as long as they enjoy craft beer or at least have an interest in learning about good beer and local events.