My Name is Tim, and I’m Here to Help

Who is Tim Vandergrift and why does he want to help?

Excellent question–I’m glad you asked.

I’m an authority on consumer-produced alcohol beverages, what most folks refer to as ‘homemade’ wine, beer, mead, sake. For more than two decades I helmed the Technical Services department for first one and then the other of the world’s largest consumer beverage companies. ‘Technical Services’ makes it sound like I was in IT, but it was the only title that really fit the job I did. Mainly I talked, lectured and wrote about wine and beer making, wine, kit wine technology and applications, and anything else that people will sit still and listen to, and I did promotions and marketing and helped design and set up homebrew shops and On-Premise operations across Canada and the USA.

Nowadays I’m an independent consultant to the industry, doing much the same things as before, but as a freelance type guy–I’m always late for work and my boss is a slave-driver. 

My usual writing style is pretty loose, and I can never stay on topic (my wife says I have undiagnosed ADD) so if you’re reading here, please join me in hoping for the best. I’ll be blogging about stuff I’m doing, beer, wine, food, cooking, drinking, eating . . . come to think of it, if you can ferment it, cook it, eat it, or drink it, I’ll pretty much be interested in it. Label me a professional hedonist, I think it fits.

I’m 50, and I live in White Rock British Columbia with my wife of thirty years and a  horrible gigantic elderly curmudgeon of a Siamese cat named Spot.

He must have liked the way my eyeball tasted because he bit it right after this was taken

Important Questions I get asked:

What do you mean, ‘I’m here to help’?

Just that: if you’re in the industry, you can reach me for consulting at tim (dot) vandergrift (at) gmail (dot) com. If you subscribe to Winemaker Magazine, I’m the regular kit columnist. I also blog on their website: Wine Kits. Or you can keep reading here and pick up useful things, such as which wine to drink (see below) or which beer to drink (all of them, especially the one you made yourself).

What’s a good wine?

Anything you like to drink is good. Seriously, if you enjoy it, it’s awesome. Never let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t enjoy because they’ve got their hand on your wallet.

Beer? What do you know about beer?

I’ve been an all-grain brewer since 1996 and I’m a BJCP certified judge. A lot of people say they love beer, but honestly I think they just say that to get it into bed. I have a deep and abiding emotional connection to beer that transcends time and space, and forms the basis of my personal philosophy (if more people relaxed and had a beer, more people would be happy).

What’s your favourite wine?

Whatever I’m holding at the moment. I’m awfully fond of Champagne and mind-bendingly expensive French Burgundy, but I’m happy to drink anything reasonably tasty.

What’s your favourite beer?

Duvel. There, I’ve said it. Try it and see if I’m right. As a category I’m awfully fond of IPA.

Do you ever drink anything else?

Sometimes a day goes by when I don’t have time to enjoy a beer–but not two days in a row. In between I’m very fond of the brown liquors, with emphasis on Scotch and Irish whisky, love a good cocktail (after three decades of devotion I’m still working on my Martini recipe) and sometimes even drink non-alcoholic beverages and I’ll try anything once. I’m not big on sweet drinks, or drinks made out of candy–they strike me as childish, and I grew up specifically so I could enjoy potent, bitter, sour things, not comforting sweetness.

I roast my own coffee and keep fifty or sixty kinds of tea on hand. I also remember drinking water once. Tasted like fish lived in it.

Why can’t you spell anything correctly? 

I write in British-Canadian English. That means I put u’s in things and have the letter s where many people would put a z (pronounced ‘zed’). I should probably have a copy editor go over my stuff, but that’s a layer of complexity I rarely have time for–although I have a lot of time and love for good editors.

Why do you hate sommeliers and cicerones? 

I don’t hate them personally (well sure, a couple) and I’ve even practised the profession in the past. I just don’t like the way their profession has evolved. A sommelier is just the person who manages and sells wine in a restaurant. They’re not gods among men, and they should be treated like any other knowledgeable waiter, not like superstars or arbiters of taste. As for the bizarre attempt to hijack the sommelier designation for beer service with the whole cicerone thing . . . I’m at a loss, really. It’s fun to talk to knowledgeable folks about beer and wine and the food pairings that go with them, but honestly, it’s not rocket surgery. People have been successfully consuming food with beer and wine for over ten thousand years without a designated expert to tell them that they’re doing it wrong.

What do you think of the whole Robert Parker/100 point ratings/professional wine reviews thing? 

This is a family friendly blog.

Are you a curmudgeon?

Kind of. I honestly like people, though. Especially you–are you always this wonderful? Have you lost weight?

Can I ask you a question about winemaking?

If you’re a homebrew shop owner or a winery, contact me at the address above. If you’re a consumer, I’m pretty booked up most of the time, but I’ve got a notion to hold an ‘ask me something’ blog in future. I’ll let you know.

Do you do anything else?

Besides drink, you mean? I’m a national level competitive powerlifter, love motorcycles, garden a lot, hunt and shoot guns, travel, cook (everything) and I try to spend as much time as I can reading and thinking. Sometimes I even write for magazines and make deadlines.

Ha ha, just kidding. I never make writing deadlines.

Where can I read more of your stuff? 

There’s the Winemaker Magazine blog I mentioned above. Sadly, the big fun blog I had at a previous employer has been erased with a liberal application of lawyers. Stay tuned to for the best stuff.

You could friend me on The Facebook:

Or follow me on Twitter

Or look at my Instagram feed

Lord, please let there be no more social media thingies to hook into.

Spot can be found on The Facebook, when he can no longer be bothered to answer, being an ex-cat. I miss him always. .

How did you get this job?

I’m still working that out.

6 Replies to “My Name is Tim, and I’m Here to Help”

  1. Well done my friend. You reminded me of one of my favourite cooking show personalities that I watched when I was a kid – Justin Wilson. He also said “what wine goes with this here dish…well what wines you got!”
    All the best to your future.

  2. Tried the Duvel beer this weekend Tim. It was very good as you say but at a whopping $6.75 USD for an 8 oz glass I can’t afford to like it too much 😉



    It’s okay on draught, but you need to hunt up the bottled version, which is very different indeed. You’re in the Bay Area, right? Over at Ales Unlimited ( in Pacific Heights they’ve got it in 12 oz bottles for $4.49! If you’re passing through the lower Haight, I’ve had it in Toronado before.


  3. Very nice! I love what you’ve done with the place!

    Looking forward to your observations, as always.

    Thank-you my very dear! I’ll try to have some worthy observations, but you know me . . .


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