Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Meet Volunteer Beer Steward Ruth Mirsky

Please tell us briefly about who you are and why you decided to become a Volunteer Beer Steward at Jimmy’s No. 43. 

I grew up in New York’s Chinatown, and I am singer/producer in an indie electropop band based in Brooklyn. When I was in college, I started getting into beer, and recently I discovered the wonderful community of craft beer fans and home brewers in the city. My friend Carolyn (another Jimmy’s No. 43 beer steward) and I decided that it was time to start a women and craft beer club, so this year Jimmy let us start using the back room on the last Friday of every month to hold monthly meetings for The Real Alewives of NYC, a craft beer club for women dedicated to bringing women together in a casual, fun environment to learn more about beer and how to pair it with preferably homemade food. When I heard Jimmy needed volunteer stewards, I thought it was a great opportunity for me to share my love of craft beer with others and learn more about the different beers out there. And it’s true that I’m always finding new favorites when I volunteer steward on Tuesday nights. 

What is your relationship to beer and why is good beer important to you?

I always knew I was very particular about my beer, even when I was a little kid taking sips from my parents’ glasses. When I got to college, I would cringe at the idea of drinking cans of the bland stuff and always made sure I came to parties armed with a six-pack of something I would actually want to drink. When I travel to new places, I look up the best pubs and breweries and make a beeline for them. Now, I work part-time on Brooklyn Brewery’s promotions team, which is more pleasure than it is work. The more I learn about beer, the more I realize that it goes beyond being a wonderfully versatile and complex alcoholic drink. Beer has had an enormous influence on the course of world history—it’s too bad that part is usually left out of most classroom textbooks. If you enjoy food as much as I do, it would be a disservice to any great dish not to pair it with a perfect pint. Not to mention the fact that in my experience, good beer has an uncanny way of bringing together good people from all walks of life who just want to share their love of craft beer with others. 

What’s the most memorable beer tasting you can remember?

My most memorable beer tasting was my first taste of homebrew. I couldn’t believe that someone was able to produce such high quality beer in a small Brooklyn apartment with just a stovetop. It was brought in unmarked bottles to a Mexican restaurant, and it was the first nameless, non-commercial beer I had ever tasted … and it tasted damn good. 

You walk into a bar (with or without the priest and rabbi) and don’t recognize the names of any of the craft beers on the menu. Describe to the bartender, in beer terminology, what you want to drink.

It depends on what I’m walking into the bar for. If it’s a pre-dinner drink, I’ll ask for a pale ale (preferably Belgian). If it is a post-dinner drink, I’ll be debating between a chocolaty porter or maybe a Gueuze or Saison to clean my palate. Honestly, I’ll probably just whip out my phone and google all the beer names I don’t know and then read the reviews and descriptions before I come to a decision. The last thing I want is to get stuck with a beer that I don’t want to drink. Needless to say, I’m usually the last one to pick a beer when I go out with a group.  

Any favorite beer literature you could recommend for our book club?

Personally, I found Garett Oliver’s book The Brewmaster's Table to be riveting and accessible to even non-brewers like myself. (It just so happens that Garett is the brewmaster at Brooklyn, but I promise that I get nothing from the sale of this book, and it just happens to be the one that I have liked the most so far in my recent foray into beer literature.)

What times/days do you plan to be available at Jimmy’s as a Volunteer Beer Steward and what kinds of services do you hope to provide?

Right now, I think the schedule is that we all work 1-2 times a month, serving the chosen beers to patrons, and being there to answer questions about beer to people who are interested.