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Nov 26, 2014

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Kurt's a veteran English teacher by profession, having logged 32 years at the high school level. He holds a bachelor's degree from Montclair (NJ) State College and a Masters Degree from Kean College of NJ.

Relatively new to the microbrew scene, he confesses that although he was never enamoured of beer, he was always "drawn to the English ales and similar styles, like Ballantine IPA, with more body and character than the general effluent available."

Kurt Epps and Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson and Kurt Epps

A thrice-elected member and President of his local school board in central NJ and a frequent contributor of articles to major educational publications, this happily married father of three young sons (13, 10 and 7) is also an accomplished entertainer, photographer, emcee and composer. Known for his outspoken (and staunchly conservative) opinions, he writes a weekly column on every imaginable social issue for his local paper. Active in his church, his work has appeared regularly in a statewide religious publication as well.

He got his start in brewwriting by answering an ad for writers in the Beer and Tavern Chronicle, a northeastern monthly that he picked up and perused while getting his monthly supply of new micros. His work has been featured by The Celebrator Beer News, Ale Street News and American Brewer Magazine, as well as in a host of online e-zines.

He is a founding member of the New Jersey Association of Beer Writers (http://kurt_epps.tripod.com/njab_index/), and the North American Guild of Beer Writers honored his writing in both 1999 and 2000.

He begins teaching his Senior World literature course by using an empty bottle of Pete's Wicked Red (now Pete's Amber) to introduce a unit on Mesopotamian and Sumerian literature. That label has Ninkasi depicted on it, and the thrust of his first lesson was that beer may have been partly responsible for the development of writing and also for what we know as "civilization." "The Sumerians invented writing," he says, "and they valued beer. You've got to credit thinking like that." He even quotes the label of Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome in his Shakespeare classes.

An ardent opponent of substance abuse (he claims to be among the "handful" of college students in the mid sixties who NEVER smoked pot or did drugs), he emphatically discourages his students from partaking of alcohol until the legal age. He also admonishes them to be moderate - in the ancient Greek tradition - even after that.

We're betting those techniques capture the attention of his students. They sure got ours.

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Kurt Epps