Thriving cities depend on the adventurous among us, who alter the urban landscape when they forge their own successful paths.
Each month, we ask an influential Pittsburgher: What was it like for you in the beginning?
Live: Shady Side
How Long: Almost 2 years
What projects have you worked on in the past?
When I lived in Manhattan both my co-founder, J. Travis Smith, and I worked for an online men’s lifestyle magazine called Gear Patrol. I’ve also free-lanced for Thrillist, Time Out New York, Paleo, Organic Life, and a variety of Pittsburgh-based magazines, including Table and Local Pittsburgh. In my free time, I teach yoga at Yoga Flow in Shadyside, and I’ve spent time volunteering as a creative writing instructor in the Allegheny County Jail.
Tell us a little about Hop Culture and what sets you guys apart from other beer publications?
My co-founder and I started Hop Culture because we were frustrated by the state of beer writing. We were tired of clip art, low quality articles, and biased, subjective reviews. Worst of all, we didn’t feel like we wanted to drink with any of the writers. Beer is supposed to be fun, informative, down-to-earth, inclusive, and educational. If you don’t finish one of our articles and say, “Wow, I want to drink with her,” or “Gee, I’d love to shotgun that,” we haven’t done our job.
We also have an incredible team with over 30 years of combined experience in digital media. This includes my co-founder, a Boston-based senior editor, a Pittsburgh-based art director, a Pittsburgh-based videographer, and five fantastic interns. I can’t speak more highly of their hard work and dedication. Our interns especially—I know that all of them have bright careers ahead.
Hop Culture is a new platform. What struggles have you faced in creating and establishing Hop Culture?
As the new kid on the block, it’s difficult to make people take you seriously. However, at the end of the day, the site speaks for itself. Whenever we can, we use original, high-resolution photography, and our beer journalism far exceeds anything else on the web.
The other problem we’ve faced is from people who have closed minds about the industry. We champion democracy and writers from all walks of life, be they gay, straight, white, black, or brown. Currently, we have a pregnant writer working on a ten-part series about drinking and pregnancy, and we think that’s awesome. Thankfully, the majority of our audience celebrates diversity in craft.
What personality traits must someone possess in order to launch a company like Hop Culture and be successful?
Beer is a social substance—if I didn’t have a personality, I wouldn’t be good at my job. Not only because interviewing people requires making connections and teasing out stories, but I’m frequently traveling, which often puts me outside my comfort zone. I also work a lot. That’s fine for me, because I love work, but someone who prefers a better work-life balance might not like the position.
Because we’re having so much fun, it’s easy to forget that Hop Culture is a startup. Most days, I wake up at 7:00 AM and don’t get to bed before 11:00 or 12:00 PM. Between those hours, it’s meetings, emails, phone calls, and beer.
If you were stuck on a desert island and had one beer you had to drink for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Oh man. What a question. I think my favorite go-to beer is Allagash White. It’s the first craft beer I ever tried. We don’t get it in Pittsburgh (listen up, Allagash!), but every time I travel, I try to grab a four pack. To me, a cold bottle of Allagash White tastes like drinking autumn, which I imagine would be especially pleasing on a desert island.
Urbanist is so excited to announce a year-long partnership with Hop Culture. Stay tuned for their quarterly insight to beer centric events and news in Pittsburgh!