An Interview with Erik Ofgang, Author and Journalist
When someone asks me how to start an education in the ever evolving scene of alcoholic beverages in New England, I have an immediate response. It consists of two words: Erik Ofgang.
Many people are “knowledgeable” about the alcohol industry in New England. Erik is knowledgeable without the quotes. His book, Buzzed: Beers, Booze, and Coffee Brews (Islandport Press, 2016) is essential reading for anyone who seeks, as the byline details, Where to Enjoy the Best Craft Beverages in New England.
Do yourself a favor and obtain a copy of Buzzed. Keep it in your car. It’ll come in handy anytime you’re on the road in New England. And if you’re looking for the perfect last-minute present this holiday season, Buzzed is your solution. You will be thanked by the recipient for your impeccable taste in gifts.
Unlike so many other tour guides and reviews of local alcohol industries, Erik’s book is a contribution written—I am tempted to say crafted—by a very skilled storyteller. He searches out the people behind the breweries, coffeehouses, and distilleries that he features. We learn of their inspirations, their aspirations, and their sometimes rocky roads to success. In following these personal experiences, Erik shows a sensibility akin to that of a folklorist. His writing reminds readers that there are truly fascinating people behind the products we enjoy and that alcoholic beverages are often a labor of love and always a gift.
Erik’s writing is equally a gift to readers. His penchant for keen observations and description is enlightening. It conveys a sense of the journey that is the hallmark of stellar writing about travel, food, and drink. Buzzed is replete with his vast store of historical and contemporary knowledge and includes a fair share of information on local traditions and the folklore of alcohol. It’s all brought together by his adroit wit, amiable style, and generous sense of humor. All travel guides should be written in imitation of this book.
Erik is an award-winning travel and food writer, an adjunct professor of writing at Western Connecticut State University and Quinnipiac University, and was the founding editor of Poor Yorick: A Journal of Rediscovered Objects (which, be assured, your life is made better by exploring). Erik has written for the Hartford Courant, the Associated Press, and Tablet Magazine. He recently published Gillette Castle: A History (The History Press, 2017), concerning one of the CT River Valley’s most beloved eccentric figures and the “stone heap” that makes this area a very special place. It too is an informative and entertaining read and an excellent gift, including for you yourself.
Erik continues to share his insights regularly in Connecticut Magazine, where he is a Senior Writer. Readers of this blog will enjoy his regular “Craft Cruising” and “The Connecticut Files” features, but everything he pens is a pleasure to read. And somehow, he also finds time to play bass in MacTalla Mor, a Celtic Roots Band.
Visit the Drunken River program here on iCRV Radio to listen to an interview I conducted with Erik regarding the process by which he wrote Buzzed, the beer industry in Connecticut and its relationship to wider trends in New England. The interview was conducted in July 2018. The time went by too quickly and this interview only scratched the surface, but Erik has promised to return in the future—and I promise to be more prepared for his wisdom. Without a doubt, you will look forward to his further insights as much as I do.
Until next time, cheers!
Stephen Olbrys Gencarella