Back to Posts

The Beginning

Posted in general

I was raised Mormon in the heart of Utah Valley. Mormons don’t drink alcohol, or at least they’re not supposed to. I never did until I was 25 years old, shortly before deciding to leave the religion altogether. I had no idea what I was missing out on.

My first taste was a red wine. I can’t remember which, but I didn’t like it much at the time. The first time I drank scotch was from a bottle my friend Sam brought to a game night. I poured about one finger into a coffee mug, took one sip and asked if he’d finish the rest. He still teases me about that.

My first taste of beer was an IPA my buddy Dylan was drinking at a work sponsored happy hour. That was a terrible decision, though he did forewarn me that I wasn’t going to like it. That same night at Blueprint Tap Room (now Hardwood) in San Francisco’s Design District, another friend Al pointed me to a Pilsner Urquell. It was not nearly as bad as the IPA but still tasted horribly bitter. Both Dylan and Al helped me navigate my first time drinking in a bar that night. I ended it by drinking a sweet, hard cider and walked away thinking I wasn’t a beer person.

I fumbled my way through an all inclusive vacation at a Cancun resort drinking mostly whiskey and tequila cocktails. When going drinking with friends, I’d drink whiskey. I found a great go-to in the Recoil, a whiskey cocktail with lime and ginger-beer from Bloodhound but after months I never truly acquired a taste for alcohol.

In between all of this, I attended a “Sour Hour”, a happy hour consisting only of sour beers and there was hardly a beer I tried that I didn’t like. However, I soon moved from San Francisco with little chance to explore its sour beer selection and returned to my hometown in Utah where the alcohol laws are an embarassment and the beer selection is even worse. It wasn’t until I moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that I was really able to experience and enjoy the experience of drinking a good beer and I now have many favorites and recommendations. Now I wonder why I ever tried to make myself a whiskey drinker.

I have acquired a taste for most wines and enjoy the ocassional mule. I only really drink hard liquor socially at parties when I’m intentionally getting drunk. Otherwise, I drink a variety of sour and fruit beers for pure enjoyment.

Growing up, “beer” was a forbidden beverage that looked like apple juice that I associated with Homer Simpson. Never did I realize there are dozens of different styles, all with their own sub-styles, all brewed with different ingredients ranging from fruit to honey or chocolate to hops. Hell, I didn’t even know what hops were. This not-so-secret world that stayed hidden from me my entire life fascinates me, and I want to be a part of it.

I love studying and learning about what makes a beer taste and look the way it does, different brewing techniques, the aging process, and so much more. It’s an intricate process that, like cooking, is easily viewed as an art. As such, I’m currently making my way through John Palmer’s latest edition of How to Brew, Charlie Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, Emma Christensen’s Brew Better Beer, and Mountain Brew, the book that started the United States’ homebrewing revolution in the 1970s. I’ve also subscribed to over half a dozen beer and homebrewing podcasts and joined almost as many homebrewing Facebook groups, all in hopes to start brewing my own beers this Fall.

Join me as I document my learnings, observations, mistakes, and successes on this journey. I also hope to visit many influential breweries and recount the experience and lessons here. I’ve already got a couple under my belt. For my reviews and comments on individual beers, follow me on Untappd. Who knows, if this goes well, perhaps I’ll open up my own microbrewery and pub one day ;)


A self-described technologist, activist, skeptic, and sour beer lover Ethan Gregory Dodge is venturing into the world of homebrewing after not drinking a drop of alcohol before the age of 25.


Rivertowne Brewing, Export, PA