Interview with Tom Ciccateri, “Beer Drinker of the Year” 2005

Hi Tom, for me you are the most gentle beer-drinker of the world! Your family name is typically Italian, do you still have relatives living in Italy? I still have relatives living in Maenza, 100km south of Roma.

Tell us please something about you and how you has become so skillful about good craft beers.. I began tasting beer when working in Germany, then later when living in Northern California. Then I began homebrewing when I moved to New Mexico.

I know you have travelled in a lot of countries, some with a great tradition in brewing ans some with no tradition at all. In your opinion, which ones are overstimate or understimate about their beers?
Over-stated countries? Maybe Germany, since the large breweries now concentrate on profit, distribution and marketing. Of course England and the U.S. have similar issues. Understated? Findland has some unrecognized craft brewers doing a nice job. Also, of course, Italy now has great craft brewers making flavorful ales, while the large lager brewers continue to spend their budgets on marketing.

Tell us about your experience at Beer Drinker of the Year contest adding some anedoctes before and after the winning.
Since becoming Beerdrinker of the Year I have received much media attention and widespread recognition among other beer drinkers. This has caused many strangers to begin conversations and has allowed me to meet many new friends in other countries. Since winning, I have enjoyed many media interviews and I have been able to spread the word about craft beers to a wide audience.


Have that prestigious award changed something in your life?
The award has allowed me to become a judge at the annual Beerdrinker of the Year competition in Denver. This allows me to renew friendships with fellow judges and meet the very worthy contestants trying to obtain the title for themselves.

Do you know Matt Venzke, beerdrinker of the Year 2008?
I first met Matt Venzke at the 2008 competition in Denver. During our talks I learned that he has lived in Albuquerque and that he met his wife at the Bavarian Lager Cellar brewpub in Albuquerque. This was a favorite of mine when I lived in Albuquerque while going to University.

US craft beers are becoming more and more popular and appreciated in Italy. Which are the brewers and the beers do you recommand to our readers?
I recommend the beers brewed by Tomme Arthur. His beers have received many awards and have gained a reputation well beyond Southern California. There are many other “undiscovered” brewers. That is why I recommend people travel the U.S. and sample the beers from the many small brewpubs and regional microbreweries.

You have been in Italy several times visiting some pubs and brewpubs of course. Which ones did you enjoy? Which Italian beer did you more appreciate?
I always enjoy the beers of Birrificio Lambrate. Some ambitions styles, but always well-done. I also enjoy tasting the rich, malty beers brewed by creative, bold craft brewers in Italy. I look forward to my next visit to Italy and, as always, I appreciate the recommendations by Kuaska for finding special beers and special places to taste them.

Thank you Tom, see you soon in Montreal at Mondial de la Bière big event.
For any readers visiting the American Southwest, I would be happy to show them around and share some beers. Salute!