There are mascots and then there is the “Hopster”

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

LONG ISLAND CITY — July 17th marked the first ever Homebrew Festival presented by the Hopster Beer Company.

The man you see in the video above is none other than the Hopster himself, the one who made all of this possible.  The Hopster’s love for beer, the joy he gets from bringing people together and the focus he places on the beer consumer is exactly why the first ever Homebrew Festival was a major success.

I just mentioned “the beer consumer.”  The beer consumer is who the Hopster had in mind when he decided to start the Hopster Beer Company, becoming one of the first beer companies to create a mascot that represents the beer drinker, not the beer itself.  And if you haven’t figured it out by now, “the Hopster” doesn’t just refer to the man you see featured in this story, but it’s also the name of the actual mascot for beer drinkers all over the world.

Think about that for a second.

Can you recall a time when you found yourself watching a beer commercial and saw a mascot that was created for the average beer drinker?

I know I’m a young guy, but still, in my 25 years on this earth, I can’t recall one time turning on the television or opening my internet browser to watch a sporting event, sitcom, movie, TV series, or any other type of television or online program, and seeing a commercial or advertisement that catered to those who drink beer. Instead, what I’ve seen during these advertisements are beer brands, time and time again, showing off their mascot in an effort to persuade us beer drinkers to taste their product.

Their alluring tactic is quite simple; a clever mascot to represent their brand of beer.

During our interview, the Hopster gave me examples of beer brands like Coors Light, also known as “the Silver Bullet.”  He also mentioned Samuel Adams beer and how their mascot is a brewer and patriot holding up a mug filled to the brim with beer.  

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While beer brands like Coors Light and Sam Adams have been extremely successful over the years, the Hopster is content with taking a different route. What route might that be?  He decided to create a mascot for the beer consumer.  

That being said, while the idea was his, it was his wife who added her much needed two cents to the equation, becoming an intricate factor in why the mascot was eventually named “the Hopster.”

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Prior to our interview, the Hopster told me about the months leading up to the Homebrew Festival and about the immense amount of preparation that went into making the grand opening for this festival a huge success as he and his team worked alongside the owners of the Beer Closet to bring this festival to the Long Island City community. 

During our interview, the Hopster said giving people opportunities to market their brands was a major focus for this festival.  He might have been mainly referring to his fellow homebrewers, but little does he know that by putting on this event, a journalist, a podcast out of Queens, NY, an emerging New York-based clothing brand, and many members of the community, all left the festival with potential opportunities and future opened doors in our respective lives and careers.

That’s right.  A New York-based construction worker by day and an artistic homebrewer by night is who paved the way for tons of cross-promotion to be handled on a beautiful Sunday afternoon just weeks ago.

Not only did people enjoy the festival and have an opportunity to taste some amazing craft beers, but they were able to connect with one another from a life and business standpoint, which didn’t really take much effort given the atmosphere and the high-character individuals who were involved.

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Me with Ann Marie Vasquez, the lovely wife of the Hopster.  She’s been very instrumental in assisting her husband with the operations of the Hopster Beer Company, basically operating as second in command to her husband since day one.  During our interview, she told me about how the company started, how far they’ve come and how dedicated they are to creating an unforgettable experience for the “beer consumer.”

Even though I was at the festival as a member of the press, there was no way I was going to let the day go by without tasting the vast selection of crafted beers that debuted at the festival.  After all, they do say “When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do.” So, when at a homebrew festival… I think you guys can take it from there.

Out of all the crafted beers I tasted that day, I found it to be quite ironic that my favorite selection was the Hopster Beer Company’s special; the mango double IPA.

As someone who drinks in social settings, I won’t lie to you all.  I’m not the biggest fan of IPA’s.  However, I also won’t lie to you and say that I did not enjoy every sip of that mango double IPA.  And to think that it was created by accident, to say the least.

During the interview, the Hopster filled me in on just how much of a coincidence the mango double IPA was, telling me that, at the time, he wasn’t necessarily trying to create this fan favorite.  However, once he tasted the final product and allowed others to, it immediately became one of his signature crafted beers.

That’s not a surprise to me at all considering all the positive feedback it received from so many people at the festival.

The Hopster’s genuine personality, his love for people, his interest in beer, and his desire to bring people together with future events and new signature beers, speaks to his success in the beer industry and it’s proof as to how he continues to elevate his company.

I appreciate this guy for setting the stage for what was a great turnout and an impactful event for the Long Island City community.  This is only the beginning.

Hopster,

I can’t thank you enough for putting the Homebrew Festival together and for having me there as one of the leading sources for media coverage.  It was truly a pleasure and I will carry those memories with me as my journey in journalism continues.  I appreciate you taking the interview and I’m sure this won’t be the last time people see our names side by side bringing great experiences and unique content to the public.  Continue to create opportunities for your fellow homebrewers.  On behalf of the beer drinkers out there, thanks for providing us with our own mascot!  From here on out, like you said, we’re all Hopsters when we put beer to our lips!  See you soon and welcome to the Intern Media family!

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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Kenton Dunson: Full Interview in ‘Limbo.’ I call it the ‘Tease.’

by Karl Nelson II, InternMedia

“People relate to honesty and my music has become more and more honest. I can’t help it. It was a song that needed to happen for me. It re-established a tone for me so now there is nowhere but up! So it was a fresh springboard for me in terms of the upcoming music and message!”

This is what Kenton Dunson had to say during our interview in regard to his biggest single, “Broke Ass Dope Ass Rapper,” which dropped last summer.

That single took Dunson to new heights as an artist. Why? Well, sounds like a relatable title to me. How many of you would agree?

Think about it for a second. “Broke Ass Dope Ass Rapper.”

If you think, for one second, that the only dope artists are the ones we hear about on the radio or see on television, you can think again because that is so far from true that it’s not even funny. Contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of dope rappers out there right now, but following that passion has demanded a lot of sacrifice. We must, at times, remember that for every one artist who makes it to mainstream, there are hundreds of good artists who don’t – they are usually referred to as ‘Underground Artists.’

When Dunson made that single that’s exactly where he was at the time. He was truly starting from the bottom, “from poverty, to college, to the corporate world and back to the struggle for the sake of my passion.”

It’s that journey that makes Dunson’s music so compelling and relatable to the average listener.

You might be one of the dopest artists out there, but people don’t see the two or three hustles you have on the side to stay afloat while you do your music. You might be one of the most talented basketball players in the area, but no one is watching the countless hours you’re putting in outside of games and practices in order to be in a position to make that big check.

We have teachers out here who are responsible for some of the most important parts of our educational makeup, but they’re not taking home six-figure salaries.

Even right now, I’m writing to you guys after hours of entertaining other work which allows me to do what I love right here and now without stress. However, at the same time, I’m far from rich or well known.

I know it’s someone who is going to read this and be able to relate right away.

I think that’s what makes Dunson and his music such a good fit for the people. He has a real story that a lot of us can grab onto and feel the correlation.

What makes him special is he’s willing to, as he would put it, “struggle” for the sake of his passion, which is making great music.

“I have seen so many walks of life and my music reflects a broad experience,” Dunson said during our recent interview.

If you are a fan of music — not mainstream. I’m talking about soulful and honest music then Kenton Dunson is your guy.

In the limbo of a blog feature that is going to provide you with our full interview, check out the link below and hear for yourself — that feel good music that so many of us long for.

http://dunsonmusic.com/

Rich Westerlund: Men’s Basketball Head Coach at Crossroads College in Minnesota. Looking back on my Unsung blog features from 2014.

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

Back in early November, I had the great opportunity to do a story on my friend and basketball coach at Crossroads College, Coach Rich Westerlund. This came as a blessing because I hadn’t known Rich for that long. I met Rich while working Five Star Baltimore’s basketball camp for two summers.

Not only is Rich a very talented young basketball coach and basketball minded individual, but he’s also a great guy and I respect the character that he has exemplified in my time knowing him, which made this story even more of an honor.

When I interviewed Rich, he shared with me the ups and downs of his coaching career. It just so happens that the ups carry a lot of weight in Rich’s case. He’s found himself in the history books on a couple different occasions. The first came in the beginning of his coaching career when he became the youngest high school basketball coach in the country. The second came when he took the job as head coach at Crossroads College. It was there that he found himself in the history books again as the youngest college basketball coach in the country.

Both of those great moments share a common denominator. They both started off with their share of stresses and adversities. However, the great thing about Rich’s story is that he and his team prevailed in the end in both cases.

How ironic is it that Rich and his team find themselves in another tough circumstance in his second season as head coach? I won’t “sugar coat” the fact that both Rich and his team aren’t having the success this season that they had in the second half of last season as they went on to win a championship after an 0-13 start.

They are experiencing some of the same rough times that they did in the beginning of last season, but that won’t stop them from fighting. If it’s one thing that Rich has instilled in his guys, it’s a mentality of fighting – fighting through the hard workouts, the tough losses, the post-game speeches and the naysayers.

This is why I have all of the confidence in the world in Coach Rich and the Crossroads Men’s Basketball squad that they will leave this season better than they entered it. After all, greatness is not defined by those who respond well during the “ups,” but it’s defined by those who respond well during the “downs.” I have confidence that Rich and the Crossroads College Basketball Program are the kind of individuals that take pride in their attitude and mentality in the midst of the “downs.”

I’m pushing for them to prevail and I encourage those who read this article to do the same. 2014 is no longer here, but a sketch of 2015 is only in the making.

Marcellas Hill: CEO of Marcellas Hill Productions. Music Video Director. Choreographer. Producer. Style Icon. Supermodel. Looking back on my Unsung blog features from 2014.

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

When I did a story on my college friend Marcellas Hill earlier this year, he had just directed what was a sold out premiere entertainment showcase for his production company (Marcellas Hill Productions) – a showcase that went by the name of Model Behavior.

Model Behavior was an artistry showcase that highlighted all forms of the performing arts and also gave Marcellas’ peers an opportunity to showcase their talents in the areas of production, make-up artistry, modeling, dance and many other areas. The showcase was a success and it came as no surprise to me considering Marcellas’ experience directing multiple shows.

Marcellas directed his first show at just 15 years of age and now he’s 23 with over 15 shows on his resume. When I think about this guy, I think about successful people in the entertainment industry like Tyler Perry who started literally from the bottom with all odds against him. However, if you look at Mr. Perry’s career today, you can see that he didn’t let his circumstances determine his destiny. He now has his own production studio campus in Atlanta, GA.

Mr. Hill has the ability to be just as great. You might ask, how can I say this with such confidence? It’s simple. How many people do you know that have directed one show in a lifetime? Well, Marcellas has had a hand in directing more than 15 shows and he’s not even 25 yet.

Since our interview some months back, Marcellas has reaped the benefits of a successful premiere entertainment showcase that reached an audience of roughly 800 attendees and received some incredible reviews according to Mr. Hill himself. “It was a great start to launching my company and building my brand/legacy.”

Model Behavior has opened up several doors for Marcellas. Shortly after his showcase, Marcellas was hired by BET Networks in order to “render creative services for a sizzle reel and to assist with the production of their premiere inaugural fashion week showcase, BET on Fashion.” BET on Fashion was showcased at the Espace Lounge in New York City and included the likes of Elle Varner, Chudney Ross, and Deborah Lee.

After Marcellas returned from New York, he got right back to work, working on a show for the Operation Renewed Hope Foundation that was geared towards raising awareness for homeless veterans. The show was successfully showcased at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City and Sarah Fraser hosted it. Attendees included the Governor of Virginia and Miss America.

Marcellas and his team are currently working on a project and trailers for it have surfaced on his social media platforms. He plans to reveal more details about the project in the days to come.

Marcellas was in a “takeover” type of mode in 2014 and what’s scary is he isn’t letting up as he walks into a new year. “Ultimately, my goal in 2015 is to establish a strong online presence and following through social media. I really want people to recognize my brand when people hear ‘Marcellas Hill Productions.’ I have big expectations for the New Year. Time will reveal my goals because I plan to publicly accomplish them.”

Chiésa Mason: Professional Dancer. Guest Artist with Eisenhower Dance. Dance Instructor in Maryland. Looking back on my Unsung blog features from 2014.

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

“Without uttering a word, we tell a story or send a message through our bodies. To pull emotions from someone just by moving your body is beautiful to me.”

These were Chiésa’s exact words some months ago when she touched on the beauty of telling a story through the art of dance in an interview with me. We are often accustomed to witnessing the best stories being told through words. That’s technically what I do as a writer, but if there is one thing that I find even more impressive than that, it’s watching a flawless dancer tell their story without having to utter a single word.

Chiésa finds excitement in this aspect of her career. While some dancers might not jump at the opportunity to get on a stage in front of large audiences, Chiésa enjoys performing. “The thrill I get before going on stage and sharing my talent is one of the most amazing feelings in the world!”

Chiésa will have the opportunity to experience such a thrill once again come February, as she’ll be performing on a southern tour with Eisenhower Dance – the same company she was under contract with last season.

While she’s in training for her guest appearance with Eisenhower Dance, Chiésa is also teaching dance to aspiring professional dancers at a charter school in Baltimore as well as at two local dance studios.

Going into a new year, Chiésa knows what she wants and is moving without hesitation to go get it. In a society where strong men are glorified, women like Chiésa serve as a reminder to everyone that there are tons of strong and talented women out there impacting those around them as well as the world at large.

When asked about her 2014 experience, she simply said “I am very happy with my accomplishments and success this past year!” Stay tuned for what Chiésa has up her sleeve for 2015 as she looks to walk into this new year with some momentum of her own.