Taking a picture of a beer and posting it to Instagram is easy. Hell, even I’ve done it one or two or a thousand times. But some people go to unbelievable lengths to photograph beer in the most breathtaking of spots on Earth, turning plain ol’ cans or bottles of beer into true art. These beer-world Instagram superstars have the ability to simultaneously make you want to drink a beer and leave your house. Now that’s talent.
In this new series, The Best Beer Photographer in the World Is..., we’ll talk to some of the best beer photographers out there, and reveal everything from the most dangerous photo they’ve ever taken to the story behind their favorite photo of all time. For our first profile, we spoke to Matthew Mioduszewski, the incredibly talented mountain man behind @MountainBrewski.
How he began taking beer photos outdoors:
“I started more from the outdoor side than the beer side. My wife had a lifelong interest in the Appalachian Trail. She started hiking it in 2007, and I joined her. I got hooked. After we finished, we moved to Oregon. There’s an endless amount of things to do outside here. You have to prioritize your sport, because you can’t do it all. I started hiking, climbing, skiing, and fishing.
“Beer is all around us in Oregon. I’d bring a can with me [on these trips]. I like photography anyways, so I’d shoot the beer. I kept doing that for a number of years, and I eventually got better photography equipment and visited cooler places. My shots would occasionally be posted on a brewery’s Facebook page. Then I finally realized Instagram was a place to put all these beer pictures that weren’t doing any good sitting on my hard drive. I’ve worked with some breweries since then -- I’m semi-professional now. I joke that if I can clear a six-pack a week, I can quit my day job.”
Where he takes most of his photos:
“Most of my pictures are taken around Mt. Hood National Forest -- it’s closest to Portland, where we live. Mt. Hood is the volcano in our backyard. Beyond that, we also go to northern and southern Washington, and central Oregon. But our most common stop is the National Forest. It’s got it all -- climbing, camping, skiing, and hunting.”
His most dangerous shot:
“The Wonderland Trail is a 93-mile long trail that circumnavigates Mt. Rainier in Mt. Rainier National Park. Two Beers Brewing Co. Wonderland Trail IPA is named after this trail, so I took it with me when we went to give Rainier a shot last year. Unfortunately, due to weather and avalanche concerns we had to turn back. This [photo] was shot at around 11,000ft, with Little Tahoma (a sub-peak of Mt. Rainier) in the background. I shot it in the pre-dawn twilight, illuminated by my headlamp. With ripping wind and huge snow instability, the prudent choice was to bag it and retreat to safety. This was about halfway back to our camp. Fortunately, we've been to the top more than once, which certainly makes it easier to turn around.”
The story behind his favorite shot:
“Block 15 is an excellent Oregon brewery that brews it all, from IPAs to stouts and everything between. This is one of my all-time favorite shots because it captures a beer (Animal Cookies IPA) and brewery I love, with a gorgeous Pacific Northwest scene. This is Mt. Adams (12,280ft) reflected in Takhlakh Lake, in Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southwest Washington. My wife and I, along with friends, had climbed the mountain the previous day and skied down from the summit over 6000ft back to our vehicles. We camped at this lake that night. We were sieged by mosquitoes, exhausted, and watching the sun turn the mountain all shades of alpenglow pink and red before falling asleep with deep satisfaction. The next morning was another brilliant day with a glass still lake in front of us. I'd saved this beer because I liked it so much; [I got] a quick shot of it before drinking it.”
His best shot of all time:
“I found a can of Stillwater Artisanal Nu-Tropic IPA at one of my local bottleshops. I'm always on the hunt for new cans, and I'm especially fond of things that feature pure geometry or design, bold colors, or cool symbols. I wasn't sure where I'd photograph this, but I brought it along on a trip to Goat Rocks Wilderness, also in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, in Southwest Washington.
“I was hiking along a feature called the Knife's Edge that offers massive, epic views in all directions for a few miles of hiking. Sedum (small succulent plants) are one of my favorite alpine vegetation, and when I saw them flowering, it was an instant recognition that this can of beer would fit the color scheme perfectly. This shot highlights the micro and macro of the scene, with the small flowers to the big mountains behind, from lush and green to dark, rocky, and snowy -- the can of beer bridging between them both. The light was perfect for highlighting the branding/brewery, while still being able to capture the design.”