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Judges probably don’t interrupt trials to ask Kerry R. Callahan for the name of a good oatmeal stout. Perhaps they should. Or maybe they should just read Callahan’s microbrew review column in the Hartford Courant. Callahan, a partner at Hartford’s Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, opines on microbrewed beers in the Courant’s Thursday Calendar section. Once a month, Callahan, the son of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert J. Callahan, critiques the best that the specialized breweries have to offer. It’s a tough job, but — well, you know how that goes. Callahan, 39, began writing the column more than two years ago, in part to become better known. Attorneys “have to get involved in the community and get [their] name out there,” Callahan says. “When I started going to political events and meetings I found that every other person in the room was a young lawyer doing what I was doing.” None of the other young lawyers, however, was analyzing the relative merits of India pale ales. So Callahan turned his microbrew passion into a monthly column. He approached the Courant’s Greg Morago, who was editing the Calendar section at the time. Morago says he thought the idea was terrific, although he did have one criticism of Callahan’s early columns. “They were too polite,” Morago recalled. “The only thing I had to tell him was to relax and have fun.” Morago says Callahan strikes just the right note in his reviews. “It’s not ‘beer for dummies,’” Morago says, “but neither is it clinical dissections of the product, like some wine columns. It’s like drinking with a buddy who knows a lot. At the end you come out informed and entertained.” Callahan has developed a regular routine. He samples one beer a week, so as not to confuse his taste buds, and jots down his thoughts. Each column has a theme, so that one might critique Octoberfest beers, another summer brews. In the course of writing the column, he says, he has honed his critical skills and learned some tricks of the beer reviewing trade. “I try to sample before dinner,” he said. “When you’re hungry your taste buds are the most sensitive. Some of the tasters for breweries do their tasting in the morning.” That’s not a practice he endorses. “It’s tough to sample beer and then go to work,” he said. Since the column appeared, Callahan has received fan mail from beer fanciers and been asked to participate in beer tastings. He hasn’t let it go to his head. And even though no one has called him to say “I read your beer column and want to hire you as a lawyer,” Callahan says the column has benefited Updike, Kelly in unexpected ways. He said he has heard that some job-seeking associates have remarked that any firm where a partner writes a beer column “must be a great place to work.”

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