storminspank – the guy that knows everything, but nothing at the same time
storminspank isn’t my real name; it’s a moniker, stupid. And, yes, it’s a stupid moniker. My nickname has been “Spank/Spanky” since I was in elementary school and I like storms. And I also drove a Geo Storm. I chose this moniker when I was 15 years old, that was over 15 years ago. I’m not changing it now. Word? Word. My real name is Justin VanLaere. I’m from Iowa, but I live in Minnesota. I love beer. I love sports. I love music. Do with that as you may.
OK, time to talk about beer and this blog…
I had been thinking about doing a beer blog for quite some time. Friends on Twitter and other various venues (namely Hawkeyenation.com, thanks Jon) thought it would be a cool idea, as well. So I bought some web space, cranked up WordPress / did the back-end programming, and invited some of my craft beer buddies to join in on the fun. Morehouse was the first person I asked, the seed was already planted earlier with him. Flenker and MetsFanVI were easy choices to follow, and Sparky was the no-brainer for home brewing fun. We threw around some names and settled on brewmaniacs, as most domains were already taken. It worked, though, as the logo itself for our site was a maniac, aptly named by Sparky’s daughter. We added Graham later (he was originally in the plans on launch, but we want to keep the group small to start). Who knows, we might add more maniacs. By no means is this my site. Far from it. It’s our site. Hell, the other maniacs do more than I probably do, and they are probably better at it. And it’s our site in the full sense that it is your site. Your opinions matter to us, too. We love participation – send us comments, send us your guest reviews, send us stupid pictures… whatever you want to do. Make this your home for fun-time with beer.
My relationship with beer is as such. As long as I can remember, beer was something that was always around. My dad drank beer every night of the week and it was crappy beer. Schmidt and Milwaukee Best were two common brews in my house. And, accordingly, I hated beer growing up. I didn’t drink it much (or at all) in high school, I was too busy playing sports, being a nerd (yeah I was band/choir geek and liked to play video games), acting, etc…. you know all the stuff that was super dorky. I drank a lot, but it was Mountain Dew. It wasn’t until my freshman year in college that I started to drink beer regularly and even then it was crappy macro beers like Bud Light and Miller Lite (not uncommon for most 18 year olds). Finally, my junior year at UNI I traveled to Austria as part of the UNI Varsity Men’s Glee Club and was able to experience my first “real” beer. I remember drinking Budweiser Budvar, Edelweiss, Steigl, and one of my favorites – Wieselburger. Sure, there were others, but those stick out in my mind the most. That trip has stuck with me my whole life, not just because of the beer, but the experience as a whole. Upon returning to the states, I found that none of the beers at the bars I frequented had anything that I really enjoyed. So at that point, even though I continued to drink macro beers, I started drifting towards the ambers and the lagers of the bigger micro-breweries… beers like Sam Adams, Heineken, Guiness, et al.
It wasn’t until about 2008 that I became really interested in craft beer, as a whole. My buddy, Nate, opened up a liquor store and from there out it was on. I tried all the beers I could find: good, bad, and terrific. I’d find out when the special releases would come out and try to snag them all. I realized then that beer wasn’t just an avenue to get drunk, it was to be enjoyed. I came to the realization that I really, really like the taste of beer. I wanted to know what went into the beer, what made it taste the way it did, the ins-and-outs of brewing beer and the beer industry. So I am on that journey now with all of you good people.
I have had a fundamental change in my opinion of beer itself over the past half-decade. Good beer allows you to start good conversations; good conversations allow you to enjoy a good life. Life is what you make of it and without interactions with the people you know and love, you have nothing. I can’t tell you how many life-altering and thought-provoking discussions I have had over a couple beers with friends and family. If anything, it gives you an excuse to sit down with another person and just talk, which is something that is happening less and less with today’s culture.
That’s about it. I’m sure I could talk (er, type) your ear off about beer, but I’ll stop there.
Before I go, I’ll throw out some of the beers I really dig at this point in my beer voyage to give you a sense of my taste in beer. Overall, I love hoppy beers and I love stouts. I am big fan of the American Strong Ale, and I think it is the perfect all-around beer. I really enjoy sours, as well. If you are ever interested in trading some brews, hit me on Google Plus or email me here.