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May 26, 2011

Biking For a Cause...and For Beer! An Interview with The Foodcyclist

John "Sussy" Suscovich aka The Foodcyclist recently walked away from his full-time job as a light board operator for Howard Stern to ride his bicycle around the world, promoting organic farming and healthy foods. After hearing about his trip on The Howard Stern Show and myself being a fan of all things organic, John's trip really intrigued me and I began following him on twitter. Soon after, he was tweeting from Yards, Victory and Flying Dog breweries... He was doing a whirlwind Northeast brewery tour and all from his bike! Interest: piqued.

This 800 mile trip was a mere drop in the hat compared to what he has planned, as John and his wife Kate's full itinerary is quite far-reaching. But as he drank and blogged his way down the east coast, his former employer scoffed at his decision to leave a steady paycheck to "visit breweries". This didn't discourage him, although he did keep an ear to what Howard had to say while on the road.

Unsurprisingly, as an obvious craft beer enthusiast John's finish line on this warm-up was none other than Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware. And thankfully for us, John takes some pretty fine beertography as well. He was also kind enough to let us feature some of his photos and answer a few of our questions.


Your quest revolves mainly around educating people about organic food and local farming, how did craft beer become a part of it?

The winter before the whole trip started, fresh local sustainable food became difficult to come by. Gone were the days of abundance from the seasonal harvest. Since this trip is about pursuing my passions, I took a look around at other things that i enjoyed in life. Beer was always something I liked to drink but never tried to make myself. I then went on an adventure to homebrew with a friend. Through that experience I uncovered a whole other world where people are putting their time and effort into creating something special that can be shared and enjoyed. I believe that good food should be paired with a good beverage. If I am to be educated on both, then I should trace both back to their sources.

You've already made stops at some of the major craft breweries in the Northeast. Do you plan on stopping at more breweries as your make your way around the world? Any that you're excited about in particular?

My warm-up tour concentrated mostly on beer. The trip around the world will be a lot of farming with brewery stops as well. It seems wherever people are eating well someone is making good beer. There are several breweries that I am looking forward to visiting but to name all of them would discount all the other breweries I know we will run into. To be a little more fair there are regions that I am very much looking forward to. Colorado, Oregon, California, and of course Belgium and Europe.

One of my favorite sustainable practices at breweries is when the spent grain goes to local area farmers. Did you see a lot of this type of thing at the breweries you've visited thusfar?

I have seen a this practice a lot at the craft breweries I have visited so far. I love the sweet smell of spent grain and appreciate that it's not just being poured into a landfill somewhere.

I think it is important to note that it doesn't make up the entirety of the cows diet. Cows are meant to forage on pasture as they are ruminants, not be confined to feedlots and fed just grain as we see in modern industrial agriculture.

You've taken some pretty serious heat from your former employer Howard Stern who claims you're wasting your time. How do you respond to your detractors?

I am not going to save the world in a couple of weeks. I said from the beginning that my warm-up tour was going to be about beer and that the "grand tour" was going to be about organic farming AND beer. As I said earlier, good food should be paired with a good drink.

I think it was expected that as soon as I got on the bike I was going to be saving people's lives and changing the world. In a way I have. I receive stories in my e-mail and through social media of our efforts inspiring people to eat better, join CSAs, get back out on their bikes, lose weight, and make positive changes in their lives. That is what we are about.

I have the utmost respect for Howard. He was a great guy to work for, he is hands down the best interviewer of all time, and the man is a genius in his field. Where we differ is that he doesn't see my way of doing things as lucrative. I have learned a lot about myself and my future so far, what I have been working on can only benefit myself and my wife Kate.

I think there is a part of him that feels the same way as the majority of people that I meet when they tell me, "I wish I had the nerve to do something like that when I was your age. I am so jealous."

What is your current favorite beer and brewery?

I get that question a lot. There really is only one answer. There isn't one! The kind of beer I want that day depends on the time of year, what food I am eating, the time of day, what I have been doing, where I am geographically, who I am drinking with, and sometimes the flip of a coin.

I will say that craft beer takes the cake. Mass-market beer, while I won't turn it down, doesn't do it for me. I prefer to drink beer where the brewer concentrates on the beer more than the advertising. Bud, Miller, Coors have to convince you (often through deception) that their beer is great and you should drink it. You almost never see a craft beer commercial because the beer sells itself. 

You seem like you've already learned a lot at your brewery stops. Will you consider continuing your homebrew adventures?

The answer to that question is a resounding YES! Where I run into an issue is that all my worldly possessions now have to fit on the back of a bike. My permanent address has two wheels and a kick-stand. At the end of our journey when we come home (wherever that will be) and set up shop I will absolutely homebrew and grow a lot of what I use in my beer myself. 

What would you say is the most interesting and important thing you've learned so far?

I don't think it is what I have learned, but whom. Cycling, sustainable food, and especially craft beer attract a certain kind of people. The communities surrounding these practices are inviting, friendly, honest, and almost always very hard working. As I explore that community further I feel honored to represent it in person and in cyberspace.

Tell us a little about your event this Saturday May 28th at Roberta's Pizza in Brooklyn.

As Kate and I travel we are supporting the non-profit organization Farm Aid. We hope to raise $1 for every mile we plan to ride, that's $24,000 over the next two years. To kick off our fundraising efforts and start our trip we are hosting a charity benefit in Brooklyn.

The event will be at Saturday May 28th at Roberta's Pizza in Brooklyn from 2-5pm. $35 gets you your own personal gourmet pizza and all the Sixpoint Craft Beer you can drink! That and you are supporting a great charity. We will also be featuring the local home-brewers of Squirrel Tail Brewing who have made two beers specifically for the event.

Think the fun stops there? It doesn't. We also have great raffle prizes from Grazin' Angus Acres, The Divine Brine, The Makeup Designer, and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Thanks for the interview John and good luck on your trip! And if you're in the area this Saturday, be sure to check out his great event:

Farm Aid Benefit
Pizza and Sixpoint Beer
Saturday May 28th from 2-5pm
Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn
261 Moore St Brooklyn, NY
for more info and to purchase tickets click here.

all photos courtesy

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