Sean Paxton is one of the beer industry’s most beloved characters, whether he’s cooking meals for brewers in his car, or staging the world’s largest beer dinner; he’s currently penning his first cookbook (in a potential series of eight), all focused on cooking with beer. Here, a few of his favorite things.
1. I wear a lot of Patagonia—shirts, pants, jackets; the whole gamut. I love that the environment is always thought of, and 5 percent goes to nonprofits. I have 20 solar panels on my house, so I’m a little on the green side.
2. I have this lunch box you plug into a cigarette lighter that heats up to 300 degrees. We use it to cook on road trips. You can take leftover mashed potatoes, put some eggs, some cheese, a little bit of salsa or pesto and warm it up; 45 minutes down the road you have a hot breakfast.
3. Blind Pig is one of my favorites; Pivo Pils is awesome. Something as simple as a Rochefort 6, a simple blonde beer that is just beautiful, or Westmalle Tripel, just takes me back to being at the Abbey. Anderson Valley Barney Flats oatmeal stout, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Firestone Walker Pale 31; those are just great everyday beers.
4. I probably have at least 8,000 beers in my beer cellar. I have some 1993 Old Foghorn from Anchor Brewing. I have some Firestone anniversary beers; I have some of the first bottles from Russian River and Lost Abbey. I have some old barleywines and imperial stouts, Dark Lord, Surly Darkness, really old Drie Fontienen Gueuze, some old Cantillon, some homebrews of mine. So many beers.
5. I’ve been doing some really fun pestos. I Fill up a blender with Oregano From my garden, thyme, italian parsley, garlic and other seasonal greens, then pour in a little ipa and a little olive oil. Blend it up, and you get this really great pesto. I add some hemp seeds for crunch.
6. PBS’ “The Mind of the Chef” is really well done. The first season was with David Chang from Momofuku; Anthony Bourdain narrated it. There was one episode where they talked about “What is fresh?” So for sushi, do you really want the fish still twitching? Or do you want a day of rigor mortis so the enzymes can break down the flesh?
7. I really like Thomas Kellers’ “Bouchon Bakery” and “French Laundry” cookbooks. I’m kind of a nut for him. I appreciate his dedication, his attention to detail, his concept of perfection. I think anyone would be able to cook out of his books and feel transported to a Parisian bistro.
8. Photography was my first passion; I love to show people what I see through my eyes.
9. I love spending time with my wife and daughter. We go up to Tomales Bay in Marin County; there are great berries to pick, and cheese shops and bakeries that are fun to see and to taste at. We have a picnic, relax and enjoy.
10. “Blade Runner.” It’s an amazing film that was so ahead of its time; it gives a mood that hardly any other movie seems to have.
11. I love Belgium. You get the right glass with the right beer, just how the brewer wants it to look and smell. Beer is not forced there; it’s not about the latest, greatest craze. I also love the food: The French sophistication with the hardy German satisfying thing going on, too.
12. Burning Man. You’re surrounded by creative people who think outside the box and want to share what they do. It’s amazing to see 68,000 people in the middle of the desert listening to music and sharing this utopian life.