A conversation with @hop_doc!

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Photo courtesy of @hop_doc

This post is part of an on-going series of posts where we plan to highlight craft beer personalities from Instagram.

Today, we talk to Megan (@hop_doc). Megan is a Los Angeles, CA-based doctor who enjoys drinking her way around the LA craft beer scene.

We’re pretty jealous that she’s always drinking stuff from Monkish, but we enjoy following her beer journey around California nontheless.

You can follow Megan on Instagram by clicking here!

What was the first craft you ever tried?

Wow, this is hard for me to even remember. I can’t say for certain, but I remember after college, when I would go to places like BJ’s or Yardhouse, I would always try to order the most interesting and obscure beer I could find on the menu. And then at one point my brother briefly lived in Chico, CA where Sierra Nevada Brewing is headquartered.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale became my go-to and it was all downhill from there! Or I should I say uphill?

What was it that made you fall in love with craft beer?

Beer has always been my alcoholic beverage of choice ever since I started drinking (and yes I waited until I was 21 to drink. I’m a rule follower!). But when I met my now husband @gmjohns253 he was deep into the craft beer scene and showed me the way. Back then, Los Angeles did not have much craft beer going on outside of Monkish and Smog City (which are still favorites), so we spent a lot of time in Orange County and San Diego visiting breweries. 

These were my entry points into craft beer but what made me truly fall in love is the community. I feel like there are very few spaces in American society today where you can just sit and enjoy the company of others or strike up a conversation with a stranger.

We are such an individualistic culture and while there are many upsides to that, it can breed isolation and loneliness. But the craft beer community offers a culture like no other and opportunity to connect with people all over the world over one common thing: beer.

I have friends all over the country and now throughout the world that I world have never met if it wasn’t for craft beer.

Do you have a particular beer style you like most?  Least?

I have a few go-to styles at the moment. As with many others, I love a good, solid hazy IPA. I also feel like pilsners are having a moment and I love that. They are so refreshing and light, so if I am going to have a few, it’ll probably be pilsners. Plus, pilsners pair well with baseball, and baseball and beer is one of my favorite combos.

But above and beyond all other styles, I seek after spontaneously fermented wild ales. This is far and away my favorite style. Beyond tasting absolutely delicious, I feel like wild ales are a beautiful blend of science and art and the brewing process parallels the process human development, which I find incredibly interesting.

Both people and spontaneously fermented beers are complex, take time to develop, are dependent on their environment and context, and usually turn of fantastically, but sometimes things don’t turn out well. It’s all about the process, and you will never meet the same person twice or drink the same spontaneously fermented beer twice.

As far as styles I don’t care for. I love Proper Dose from Horus and Macroons Before Dying from Northpark, but in general pastry stouts are not my favorite. I will also add that Barleywine is NOT life.

I love the California beer scene.  What are some of your favorite breweries in CA?

We really have so many! In my hometown of Los Angeles, my favorites are Highland Park Brewing – the perfect spot for some drinks before a Dodger game, whenever those become a thing again – and Cellador, who makes the best wild ales in CA – yeah, I said it.

I’m also a huge fan of Pure Project in San Diego, Homage Brewing in Pomona, Modern Times (we have a few in CA but the spot in Santa Barbara is my favorite) and Sante Adarius in Capitola.

So, I have to ask… What kind of doctor are you?

I am a clinical neuropsychologist. For all you non-nerds, that means I am an expert in brain-behavior relationships. I specialize in degenerative brain conditions and physical and psychological trauma.

Right now, I mostly work with Veterans at a VA Hospital, and also have a private practice, teach and do research.

I was doing some major creeping on your profile and saw you got engaged at Hill Farmstead.  My wife and I got married at a brewery, so I think that’s pretty rad.  Tell us more the ‘beerprosal’ (Did I just invent a word)?

Yes you did! And I love it! Truly one of the happiest moments of my life. There are so many great aspects to this story, as there are to most engagements. Back when we were dating, my now-husband, Greg, got me plane tickets to Boston for my birthday and planned a New England beer trip. We went in early March – WHY? New England in early March is frigid, especially to us Californians.

But as we approached our trip, it started to occur to me that this might be his plan for a proposal. I got all giddy and excited and told my best friend, who, in an effort to preserve the surprise, concocted an evil but brilliant plan to throw me off. She called me the night before the trip to tell me he wasn’t proposing, but to not be sad because there was certainly a proposal in the works, it just wouldn’t be this trip. She framed it as not wanting me to ruin the trip by waiting for it at every turn and I appreciated her advice and insight.

Well, it was all a lie. On the second day of our trip we navigated the snowy back roads of Vermont to arrive at Hill Farmstead. Greg had arranged with their social media manger ahead of time to capture photos of our engagement out on the porch. Greg told me he had connected with their social media manager on Instagram ahead of time and he had asked if he could snap some photos of us out on the porch for their Instagram.

As someone who is active in the Instagram beer community, I was stoked! But the guy kept disappearing throughout the morning! And Vermont has this strange law where each person can only be served two beers per establishment per day, and we were reaching our two beer limit with no sight of the guy.

Finally, Greg located him and we stepped out onto the porch (it was four degrees that day!) and as we pose for a photo, he sets down his beer to start proposing. In my mind, I am like, “What is he doing???” My friend had told me he wasn’t proposing so that was totally off my radar, and I couldn’t imagine why he was setting his beer down in the snow and getting on the ground. I actually picked up his beer and handed it back to him.

I finally got on board with what was happening and it turned into a beautiful proposal. And I’m eternally grateful to Hill Farmstead’s staff coordinating to make it all possible. Fun fact, we also did our engagement photos at a brewery (Casa Agria in Oxnard, CA) and we got married at Brewerij West in San Pedro, CA. A very crafty wedding!

While we were going through your highlights, we noticed you travel A LOT.  What was the best beer city you ever travelled to?

 I love to travel and drink beer from all over the globe. We do a lot of trips to various parts of the United States and check out their craft beer scene – Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Diego, St. Louis, New York, Denver, Indianapolis, New England. But last year we did some international beer travel – Norway, Italy, France, Belgium, and Denmark.

Hands down my favorite beer city is Brussels, Belgium. It doesn’t get any better than Belgium. Between 3 Fonteinen and Cantillon, and then Moeder Lambic and a beer bar on every corner, we were in heaven. 

In the United States, Austin is my favorite beer city, mostly because of Jester King but I love their entire beer scene!

If you had to describe your ultimate craft beer, what would it be (special IPA, adjunct stout, old style, etc)

Oh wow, how could I ever pick just one? I reserve the right to change my mind down the line, but as of today, it would be the crispiest, most refreshing pilsner.

We love your account, however, do you have any other Instagram accounts you’d recommend for beer lovers?

Yes! I have to start by giving a shoutout to my husband @gmjohns253. He writes stellar beer reviews. I want him to quit his job and write full time, but he won’t because he is responsible and dedicated, and I love that about him.

I also enjoy following @beersnobbin, a local beer guy here in Los Angeles and an amazing philanthropist. He drinks some of the best beers and also gives away/raffles a lot of great beer to support kids battling life-threatening illnesses. @dontdrinkbeers is also putting out hilarious content. Also, listen to their podcast @maltcoutureddb.

And two of my favorite other crafty gals are @hoppy_hanna who is documenting beers in Austin TX and @ablondewithabrew who is drinking her way through Portland.

Lastly, how can our readers at all home find you online?

 My handle is @hop_doc.