2019 Edit: Mutineer is now defunct. But we still love this interview for the beer and wine knowledge it drops…
Everyone likes a good beverage. Coffee or tea? Beer or wine? Coke or Pepsi? Bottled or tap? Alcoholic, teetotaler or somewhere in between, we all drink. The world of beverage is highly subjective, and like politics, can spur some healthy debate.
Luckily for all of us, a couple of friends decided to enter the contentious world of beverage consumption, review, trends and, yes, debate by creating a magazine aimed at just that. Mutineer Magazine was born of the idea that beverage of all sorts needed an advocate: a friend for all things drinkable; a friend who was truthful, wise and fun; a friend who tells you what they think; a friend who doesn’t rate you on some impossible scale. Mutineer is that fun friend that you can take clubbing or camping, take home to mom or out with the girls.
Alan Kropf, JJ Bagely, and Jeff Dorenbush were just some guys who liked to drink, dared to dream, and needed a friend. Throw in a little pop culture, and by gracious, they have an idea for a magazine. Throw in some investors, supporters, long hours and hard work, add a little knowledge of technology and 21st century networking, and they have a business.
Mutineer Magazine gives the reader the 411 on current trends, new products, and the drinking habits of its crew. For anyone ever intimidated by a wine list or overwhelmed by a wall of taps in a beer room, this mag is for you. Mutineer parses information so that you can make choices that you will enjoy (much better than abstract ratings systems that may or may not be relevant to you). Information is confidence; confidence is beauty. Mutineer will make you beautiful (at least in the dimly lit dining room of your favorite restaurant).
But Mutineer is not just a beer and wine magazine. Mutineer covers all things wet and wild. Liquors, cocktails, and non-alcoholic beverages all get some play time. So do (beverage) book and (beverage) movie reviews, (beverage) design and architecture, and (beverage) charities. If it’s related to beverage, it’s not off limits.
Best about Mutineer is the no-holds-barred commando editorializing. Sure there is serious reporting and some great interviews, but the columns are a bawdy hoot. I liken Mutineer to Playboy in this respect: buy it for the ribald, but keep it for the education.
Having known Alan and JJ, I can attest to their fine beverage knowledge as well as their twisted humor. Having attended the Los Angeles Mutineer Launch Party, I can attest to their ability to give everyone (the alcoholic, the teetotaler, and the in-between) a good time. Having a subscription to Mutineer, I can attest that you’ll enjoy the read.
Much to our pleasure, Alan Kropf, the manically busy editor-in-chief of Mutineer, took time to answer some questions in this wht interview.
wht: Who are the geniuses behind Mutineer?
Alan: What an egomaniacal question to ask! At the core of the mutiny is beer wizard JJ Bagley, techninja/energyologist Jeff Dorenbush, and myself, pseudo-beverage revolutionary. Our team is growing quickly though…
How do you know each other? What are your backgrounds?
I met JJ in Los Angeles, and Jeff went to high school with my little brother. The Mutineer project brought us together, with my background in wine, JJ’s in beer, and Jeff’s in tech. We’ve been working like maniacs together for nearly two years now, those guys are family.
Why did you decide to start the magazine?
Because I was disillusioned by the other mags out there. I like Imbibe, and some of the beer mags are cool, but wine magazines are so uninspired and in their own world. Ridiculously cool stuff is happening in beverage culture right now, and most beverage magazines don’t have a clue. We’re here to support the culture, and we’re getting to be very good at what we do.
What has been most rewarding in running a magazine?
Seeing the vision come to life. Adding something relevant to the dialogue. Helping other people bring their visions to life. Supporting non-profit organizations, particularly water relief and A Child’s Right. Learning and growing as people. Adventures…the list goes on and on.
What are the biggest challenges?
Keeping up with the grueling pace. Pushing forward into the unknown. There are a ton of challenges, but that’s business, and we’re ready for whatever is thrown at us.
Advertisers seem to market better wines and pretty much all beers towards men, do you agree?
I don’t know? It’s crazy you ask this question, because “The Final Word” column is focused on this very idea. I think a lot of beverage advertising sucks. Companies overcomplicate it. Tell people why they should buy this product by telling them about it. For example, winemakers exist with the singular purpose of blowing your mind if you try their wine. If that winemaker thinks he is successful, I want to know why.
Stereotypes exist for a reason, and demographics don’t lie, but as beverage experts how would you market, say, a stout beer towards women? A fine wine?
I’ve heard of women having more sensitive palates than men, but I haven’t heard anything regarding preferences tied to race. Make it about telling the story. Why should people buy this stout? Or fine wine? Keep it simple.
Some friends who are not big into wine or beer tend to order the lighter and the sweeter. Is there a way to expand one’s horizons from white zin and Bud Light?
There is nothing wrong with Bud Light and white zin. I’ve enjoyed both myself. I do think there is something wrong with never trying anything but Bud Light and white zin though. It’s not like you eat a hamburger for every meal of your life? That would be boring, right? You owe it to yourself to try every style and category of beverage out there, and after you’ve tried a couple of everything, and you still think Bud Light is your favorite beverage on the planet, then that’s that! Want a buddy in your fine beverage exploration adventures? Subscribe to Mutineer! Or email your questions to me at email@example.com.
What are your 3-5 favorite beers and where do they come from and what are their characteristics?
I like whatever our beer writers are drinking. JJ made me a fiend for Belgian sours. I’ve really gotten into stouts. The Sam Adams Utopias is pretty killer. I had an Allagash white ale the other night that rocked my world. I rarely meet a beer I don’t like.
Right now, what are your 3 favorite wines under 20 bucks?
Vinho Verde, Chinon, Beaujolais. Those are regions and not specific wines, but that makes it even easier, right?
What should the wine novice look when purchasing wine? Is it totally wrong to choose by pretty label?
I suggest buying your wine at a local shop with a knowledgeable sales person. A wine label is like a record sleeve or book cover. Do what you want.
If I trust the sommelier or waiter to choose a nice bottle of wine in my price range after explaining what I like in a wine, is it ok to send it back if it totally misses the mark?
It depends on how it misses the mark. Is it flawed? Absolutely. Send it back! If it isn’t the right style, that can be awkward, because you’re getting into subjective territory. Case by case. Final answer.
Where do the best, affordable wines hail from?
The more obscure or commercially irrelevant a region is, the better the value. Portugal, Spain, Greece, Germany, South Africa, Chile, Argentina are full of killer values.
Where can you find the best and most affordable selection of beers? Of wine?
At your local shop. Depends on what state you’re in. Lots of online options. If you can buy direct from the winery, you’ll typically get better prices.
And no wht interview is complete without a reach in our potluck question vault…
Me in a nutshell: A vagabond magazine editor with a propensity for bedding divorcee cougars.
I’m a do-gooder because I…am into good karma.
What book do you think everyone should read? Atlas Shrugged, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Charlotte’s Web
You can have front row concert tickets to see anyone, who do you choose? Fine Beverage Power Hour, featuring Lee Hazelwood performing Summer Wine, Syd Barrett performing Wined and Dined, Paul McCartney performing Drink to Me (Picasso’s Last Words), Donovan performing “Mellow Yellow” and Eric Burdon & the Animals performing “Spill the Wine”.
My favorite room in my house and why: I live and operate out of a 80’s luxury RV. It is awesome.
Five people alive or dead I’d invite to a party: Hunter S. Thompson, Michael Keaton, Bono, Quentin Rampage Jackson, Steve Heimoff
If I were an 80’s movie/tv/music star, I’d be: In my forties now.
What are 3 things you can’t live without? Beverage, art, and my friends/family.
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