New Beer Podcasts Are Giving Voice to Diversity and InclusionVinePair
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Two podcasts in particular push back against the outdated interview trope, “So, what’s it like to be a woman in beer?”
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 sexist reckoning catalyzed by Brienne Allan’s sharing anonymous accounts of discrimination and abuse via Instagram. You can find Bitch Beer Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Soundcloud.
Brewing After Hours
Ancient ales, how to grow your own hops, how to become a BJCP judge, the science of fermentation — tune into Brewing After Hours, and you’re guaranteed a unique, compelling episode that will tap into all kinds of different beer and beer-adjacent interests. Host Sarah Flora is a renowned homebrewer with a strong social media presence that prioritizes accessible education, and this podcast is a fascinating extension of that. You can find Brewing After Hours on Apple Podcasts and Audible.
False Bottomed Girls
False Bottomed Girls is your destination for truly geeking out on beer styles, brewing methods and ingredients, and beer history. Two incredibly knowledgeable industry veterans guide you through deep dives on Scotch ales, sugar in brewing, measuring beer’s bitterness, and even hangovers, while also keeping listeners up to date on beer culture by checking in with the industry’s own #metoo movement. Jen Blair is an Advanced Cicerone, national BJCP judge, a member of the American Homebrewers Association Governing Committee, a writer, and an educator; co-host Rachael Hudson is an experienced professional brewer, co-owner of Pilot Brewing, Advanced Cicerone, and educator as well. You can find False Bottomed Girls on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.
Beer with Nat
Natalya Watson is a dedicated and knowledgeable beer educator. An Advanced Cicerone and beer sommelier based in the United Kingdom, she’s founded a virtual beer school and written the book “Beer: Taste the Evolution in 50 Styles.” Watson applies her accessible blend of expertise and thirst for knowledge to her podcast, Beer with Nat, a series of interviews with women in all different sorts of beer jobs, in all different parts of the world. Hear from brewers, editors, broadcasters, marketers, and more. Find Beer with Nat on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
The Beer & Wax Society
The Beer & Wax Society is, at its heart, an extension of host Chris Maestro’s bar BierWax — crack a beer while you listen and you feel like you’re at the bar wherever you are. In addition to being a brilliant beer curator, Maestro is also a living encyclopedia of music — vinyl, in particular. While Maestro started the podcast with segments exploring both music and beer, he says the recent revelations regarding just how prevalent sexism is in beer made him decide to focus on the music. Instead of accidentally offering promotion to any brewery that has just so far been able to keep bad behavior under wraps, The Beer & Wax Society leans into creating an ambience perfect for enjoying your own beer, and will delight deep-track enthusiasts. Look for early episodes catching up with the likes of Oxbow Brewing Company, plus artists and DJs sharing their favorite breaks. The Beer & Wax is on multiple platforms. Find your preference here.
Brews with Broads
Brews with Broads host Hannah Kiem is also a performer and brings an easygoing sort of effervescence to each of her interviews. Kiem is the listener’s proxy, asking everything we could possibly want to know with a balance of beer-culture enthusiasm and never assuming the audience knows every little technical term. Each episode is an in-depth chat with a woman or non-binary person in beer, and in the interest of showing how many ways there are for anyone to get involved in the industry, these guests range from brewery owners to educators to guild directors to sales representatives. Kiem also ran a series of mini-episodes breaking down beer education with experts like Tara Nurin and Em Sauter. “You don’t need an incredibly expensive mic, or to rent a studio,” Kiem says. “If you have a strong vision and a strong ‘why’ and a few tech elements, you can put a podcast out there.” Find Brews with Broads on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Boys are from Märzen
If there is a female-identifying or non-binary person you admire in beer, there’s a good chance you can learn their story on Kindsey Bernhard’s podcast Boys are from Märzen. Similar to Kiem, Bernhard has a knack for finding all different kinds of people in all different kinds of roles within the beer industry. Anything from brewing to sexism in beer to relatable life issues that actually aren’t about beer at all are on the table with interviewees like Women of the Bevolution founder Ash Eliot, Lady Justice Brewing co-founder Betsy Lay, 2nd Shift Brewing co-owner Libby Crider, founder of Black Beer Chick and the Road to 100 initiative Eugenia Brown, and beer and travel writer Ruvani de Silva. You can find Boys are from Märzen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or through Porch Drinking.
Beer Talk Now
On Beer Talk Now, host Daryl Neal proves just how infinite the ways beer connects with our lives really are. Episode themes revolve around family, food, agriculture, fermentation, diversity and inclusivity, festivals, and more, and these conversations take place as interviews with both well-known brewers and other movers and shakers who have previously been more behind the scenes. You can find Beer Talk Now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Audible.
One doesn’t have to look beyond the hosts of Beer Ladies to find all manners of beer industry participation. The team of nine — including editors and designers — represents homebrewers, beer judges, beer historians, and more. Based in Ireland, all team members collaborate to create an eclectic collection of well-researched episodes on subjects like gods and goddesses related to beer, malt tonics, and interviews with female brewers. Because episodes are guided by a few of the hosts together, listeners get to hear different perspectives and keep up with a lively conversation. Find Beer Ladies on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Marverine Cole is an award-winning journalist, beer writer, broadcaster, and one of only two Black female beer sommeliers in England. She is also a podcast host with a seemingly endless knowledge of beer, cider, and the general beverage industry, and who knows how to tell the most compelling story through thoughtful interviews. For all of that expertise, however, Cole has a knack for leading episodes in a truly approachable, accessible way. Even the geekiest of beer chat, for example, won’t feel alienating, and connoisseurs and novices alike will find something for them here. Catch chats with boldface-name brewers, cider makers, and beer publicists and Instagrammers. Beer Beauty is on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Ren Likes to Talk
Ren Navarro saw a podcast as a way to have deep, fun, important conversations with her friends, and it shows. Navarro’s energy is infectious, and she doesn’t restrict episodes to beer talk only, which feels like a more authentic representation of having a beer with friends: You’ll talk about the beer, sure, but you’ll also talk about life or what you’re bingeing on TV. Navarro is also the founder of Beer. Diversity., through which she consults and gives lectures on diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the beer industry. On the podcast, conversations range from these topics to brewing to food to “Fraggle Rock.” Find Ren Likes to Talk on Spotify and Blubrry.
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