Interview with Craft Beer Drinker: Christian Chotkowski of Proof’d

Whenever I hear about small businesses and how they start up, it always amazes me. I love to hear the details of the overcome struggles and the feeling of accomplishment. It really is a huge motivation. Christian and his wife Rebecca are the owners of a shop called Proof’d and know the struggles of being small business owners and also juggling a social and family life. Proof’d Not only is it a liquor store it is also a wine and beer tasting room. They took the idea of the liquor store and made it better. Get to know a little about Christian and Proof’d in 3…2…1…NOW.

CC: What is your favorite craft beer?
Christian: It’s definitely a difficult task to name one single beer as my favorite. My favorite depends on my mood, and lately I’ve been enjoying the brews from Ommegang a lot more than I used to.

CC: How many years have you been drinking craft brews?
Christian: I will have to say 14. Although if I were to tell you the truth, that number would be higher. I don’t like to admit that I was drinking before I turned 21, but hey, this is America, don’t most people start at least a little early?

CC: What was your first craft beer experience?
Christian: I believe it was in the mid ‘90’s when I first had a sip of beer from Magic Hat Brewing. It was the first beer I had that was flavorful, and it changed my world forever. Gone were the nights of drinking yellowish flavorless.

CC: Do you homebrew?
Christian: Between having my own business, and raising two toddlers, I don’t have time to wash the dishes, let alone brew at home. I would love to do it, but there are only 24 hours in a day, and I think there’s some written rule that people need to sleep at least some of those hours. Maybe when the kids are old enough that they don’t need constant supervision I can do it. (As long as I get the dishes done first.)

CC: If you could have a six-pack of any beer in your fridge, what would it be?
Christian: Can I have three 4-packs? I’ve never done a side-by-side tasting of Dogfish Head’s 60minute, 90minute, and 120minute IPA’s. That’s something I deem necessary to do in life.

CC: What is your best beer moment/memory?
Christian: Sitting across the table from my wife, sharing a moment as we drank the first pints to come out of our beer dispenser in our new wine/beer tasting area at Proof’d. No customers, no workers, just the two of us, and the fruits of our labors.

CC: Why do you love craft beer?
Christian: The simple idea that so many different tastes and textures, odors and aromas, can come from different people’s interpretations of the same ingredients. As they say, science is not an exact science. Neither is brewing.

CC: Do you prefer craft beer over the Big 2? If so, why?
Christian: Of course I prefer craft beer over Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada. Who wouldn’t? When you go into production on a scale like they have, you lose some of your essence, your exuberance. No matter what your goals were when you started, at some point on your quest for greatness you forget what originally made you great.

CC: What is your favorite food/dish?
Christian: Pierogies, with cabbage, kielbasa, and maybe some borscht. Now you’ve made me hungry.

CC: What are your hobbies?
Christian: My favorite hobby is to go for a walk without a destination in mind. You know, just stroll around, see the world, and hear what it has to offer at that moment.

CC: To those that don’t know about your business Proof’d. Please tell us what it is about
Christian: Proof’d is a new take on the small town liquor store idea. We are half retail liquor store, and half beer and wine tasting bar.

Our retail side covers beer, wine, and liquor. We have great beer from around the world. Our selection is always changing because we don’t have enough room for all the great beer that is offered. As for liquor, we specialize in whiskies, the small-batch craft distilled American whiskies, and high-end Scotch. We also offer a variety of tequilas, gins, vodkas and liqueurs. Not a bad product in the house. Also in the retail side, we have great California wine.

The tasting area features six beers on draught that are always changing. We choose to bring in 5-gallon kegs so that we can continue to change the offerings on a regular basis, and because so many brewers are producing limited quantity seasonal releases, we’d like to take advantage of as many of those as we can. We also offer bottled beer that isn’t available elsewhere in our region. Beer is available by the flight, or by the glass. Also in the tasting area is blind wine tasting flights, which we are offering by varietal. We also have wine by the glass of the other varietals that are not on the flight menu. Wines being offered in the tasting area change every week so that people can always expect something different each time they come in.

CC: What has been your experience being a part of the craft beer community?
Christian: It’s been a great ride so far. I’ve been able to learn, and teach at the same time. I am in the position to suggest new beer to a wide variety of people, while also in the position to bring in the new brews that people suggest to me. I enjoy being able to share my experiences with so many people and bond over those shared experiences.

CC: What would you recommend or tell the craft beer noob?
Christian: Take it slowly, there really is no need to rush into this. And if it ever scares you, step back…it means there’s more for me.

CC: We here at California Castaway live by slogan “Living the Craft Beer Lifestyle”. What does that mean to you?
Christian: To me, it says I should take things slowly. I shouldn’t just look for satisfaction in the end, but enjoy the entire process of getting there. It means I have to put quality ingredients into my life so that it will be more fulfilling down the road.

We would like to thank you, Christian, for taking the time to share you story and likes with us. We wish you, Rebecca and Proof’d all the best. Next time I’m back in California, I will definitely stop by and say Hello and maybe have a beer or two or three. Check out Proof’d on Facebook and give them a “LIKE”. Cheers.

Craft Beer at Proof'd

Cheers to Proof’d

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Nico Miranda

I'm a father, husband, son, brother, friend, gamer, graphic designer and Craft Beer Enthusiast. I love reading about, writing about and drinking craft beer. I am Living the Craft Beer Lifestyle.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rebecca Chotkowski
    Oct 31, 2012 @ 21:01:27

    Thanks for posting this q&a Nico. Definitely come in for a pint next time your in the Sonoma area. We’d love to meet you.

  2. Nico Miranda
    Oct 31, 2012 @ 21:40:40

    The pleasure was all mine Rebecca. Wish you, Christian and Proof’d the best. Cheers.

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