Last year’s pandemic lockdowns left many of us with a lot more time on our hands than we’re used to. Some of us picked up a new hobby; some learned a new skill; some rebelled against the idea that we were expected to be productive. And in the midst of our collective trauma and anxiety, some of us created podcasts.
The Beer & Wax Society, Brews with Broads, Beer Beauty, and Ren Likes to Talk are all beer-related podcasts that launched this year, joining like-minded voices in the category: Beer Ladies and Boys Are From Märzen launched in July and October 2020, respectively. While their hosts found themselves at home, seeking an outlet to discuss the industry they worked in and loved, their podcasts have something else in common, too: The quest for visibility, representation, and inclusivity drove their debuts.
Two podcasts in particular push back against the outdated interview trope, “So, what’s it like to be a woman in beer?”
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Prior to starting the False Bottomed Girls podcast, Jen Blair and co-host Rachael Hudson “spoke about how tired we were of constantly being asked what it’s like to be a woman in the industry — rather than about any number of beer- related topics men are typically asked during interviews,” says Blair. “How often are men asked what it’s like to be a man in the brewing industry?”
Blair and Hudson are Advanced Cicerones, achieving the third of four levels of beer sommelier certification in an extremely rigorous testing program on everything from beer style identification to draft system knowledge. Blair is a Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judge, educator, and governing committee member for the American Homebrewers Association. Hudson is a professional brewer and co-founder of Pilot Brewing. With False Bottomed Girls, Blair and Hudson aim to create a space for women and others to learn brewing techniques, beer styles, history, ingredients, and more.
“When people are used to spaces and media being made for them, as most white cis-gendered men are, they don’t realize how meaningful it is — to historically excluded people — to hear someone who sounds like they do, who has a similar worldview as they do, and who has the same kinds of experiences they do, talk about topics that interest them,” Blair says.
Like Blair, Boys Are From Märzen host Kindsey Bernhard thought about the fact that men don’t get asked what it’s like to be a male in beer. She just wanted to talk to her guests about beers they loved, or their hardest brew day. “[At first] I was asking basic questions about what it’s like being a female in beer,” says Bernhard. “Then I realized, as someone who wants to get more women into beer, I need to stop asking that question.” Following this realization, the podcast became career-driven, as Bernhard interviewed women and non-binary people representing every possible position in the industry from brewers and journalists to educators and regional brewers’ guild directors, all in the pursuit of better visibility. She hopes a takeaway for listeners is, “Hey, if that person can do it, I can do it.”
That visibility can help break down barriers of entry into beer also motivates Hannah Kiem, who premiered Brews with Broads in January of 2021. Kiem keeps a Billie Jean King quote in mind when it comes to her podcast: “You’ve got see it to be it.” In interviewing women, BIPOC, and non-binary and LGBTQIA+ people who work in a seemingly infinite variety of roles within beer, Kiem hopes that anyone listening can realize beer is open to them, too. Episodes have featured Schlafly CEO Fran Caradonna, New York City Brewers Guild executive director Ann Reilly, brewer and diversity advocate Megan Stone, and Rhythm Brewing Co. founder Alisa Bowens-Mercado. Kiem got the idea for Brews with Broads at the first Beers With(out) Beards festival, an event featuring breweries owned or run by women and/or with women brewers. At the time, Kiem herself had been bartending but was trying to figure out how she could fit into craft beer, specifically. “Meeting all these women in different roles at different breweries all over the country set off this lightbulb: How can I inspire myself and other people in the same predicament by elevating these women’s stories and showing all the roles to be filled in this industry?”
These podcasts are impactful because of this representation and inclusivity they offer. Before, beer podcasts reflected the beer industry itself: disproportionately dominated by cishet white men. Steal This Beer launched in 2015, Beer Guys Radio in 2016, Malt Couture in 2018, Beer Sessions Radio in 2010. These are valuable podcasts for craft beer fans, too, but while some episodes feature guests who are not cishet white men, the hosts are just that. So, until recently, it’s been difficult for craft beer enthusiasts from underrepresented communities to feel included in the beer conversation.
Caroline King says she started Bitch Beer Podcast because she loved craft beer and wanted to learn more about it but struggled to find media that resonated with her. Podcasts, blogs, social media feeds — they all seemed to perpetuate the bearded white dude stereotype in beer, and feature a lot of mansplaining.
“I’d join Facebook groups and say, ‘Oh, I just got the Hopslam [Ale],’ and someone would be like, ‘Ugh, you mean hype-slam,’” King says. So, King, who is also a filmmaker, started an Instagram account chronicling her beer exploration and conversations with women working at breweries she visited. King says her subjects lit up when they talked about their beer, and she decided to start Bitch Beer Podcast to capture those inspiring moments. The goal, she explains, is that listeners are “going to find community and find people who can help get them into craft beer.”
“There are so many great podcasts about craft beer,” says The Beer & Wax Society host Chris Maestro, who also owns popular Brooklyn bar BierWax. “You can get lost in the amount of podcast content that is out there about beer. However, like the larger industry, voices of women, people of color, and LBGTQ folks are often underrepresented in the podcast universe.” The consensus among the hosts who spoke with VinePair is that there were certainly always some smart voices producing engaging, relevant content in the beer podcast space. But until very recently, far too few of those voices were those of underrepresented people, and that needed to change because of how impactful a tool podcasts can be in welcoming such groups into beer.
“With podcast technology now being easier than ever, I say to anyone who feels they have a unique voice, they should go ahead and use it,” says Marverine Cole, a broadcaster and beer sommelier based in the United Kingdom who hosts Beer Beauty.“There’s no need to wait for someone to ask you to produce one.”
Podcasts to Add to Your Playlist
Bitch Beer Podcast
Hosted by Atlanta-based Caroline King, Bitch Beer Podcast has been around since March of 2018, making it one of the trailblazers in terms of beer podcasts from more diverse points of view. King is also a comedian, and brings a natural vibrancy, wit, and “your best friend”-type demeanor to whatever she’s discussing. Through lively interviews, Bitch Beer Podcast explores just how varied beer people and beer industry roles are. King has covered collaborations for social causes, like interviewing Marcus Baskerville about his Black is Beautiful initiative; laws that affect the beer industry, like talking to a senator about a bill in Georgia that would increase the amount of beer breweries could sell directly to consumers (it passed); and, most recently, craft beer’s…