As I am one of the very few Irish adults who do not own any kind of motorised vehicle, and Irish public transport being what it is, I spend quite a bit of my time walking. My mp3 player is something of a life line for me, taking the monotony out of the journey as I plod though the same rainy Dublin streets day after day to get to/from work, shops, pubs, etc. As I am always looking for a way to extend my obsession with beer and brewing into new areas of my life, brewcasting might as well be tailor made for me.
“But what is brewcasting?” I hear you cry. Well, brewcasting is quite simply podcasting about brewing. Little downloadable radio programmes that you can put on your mp3 player so you can listen to other beer geeks talk about beer and brewing techniques while you walk down O’Connell Street.
Like anything in life, but especially true of things one downloads from the internet, quality varies quite a bit from brewcast to brewcast. A few of these programmes, despite being produced by knowledgeable beer geeks, contain about 10% beer knowledge, with the other 90% being inane banter and innuendo. I have very little patience for these programmes so when I find that I am fast forwarding through more of the show than I am listening to, I don’t download another episode.
Thankfully there are some excellent brewcasts available which, while not being afraid to lighten the mood with some humour and a bit of banter, do not forget that the reason they are there is to talk about brewing. Here are some of my favourites:
Basic Brewing Radio
One programme every week lasting about 45 minutes.
Archives dating back to 2005.
Presented by Americans James Spencer and (sometimes) Steve Wilkes, this brewcast began as a way of promoting the instructional brewing DVDs they sell though their online shop, but quickly took on a life of its own. This is a very professionally produced offering, with a calm but entertaining style. The first few programmes in the archive give an overview of basic brewing techniques but over time more complex topics have been tackled. The show also features listener email and interviews with professional brewers and brewing authors.
Craft Brewer Radio
One programme every two weeks lasting an hour or more.
Archives dating back to 2003.
Presented by Graham Sanders and Ian the Cellarman, this is the longest-running brewcast on the Internet. The self proclaimed “most egotistical brewer on the world wide web” hails from North Queensland and covers beer-related topics from around the world. The banter is robust and topics are tackled head on, with no beating about the bush. I have personally been called a Bastard by Graham as part of an on air reply to an email I sent him (about 50 minutes into this file ). The level of technical knowledge displayed by “The Guru of the North” is extremely high and the topics tackled are generally quite advanced. I often find myself rewinding so I can listen to a particularly intricate explanation of some area of brewing science a second time.
The Jamil Show
One programme every two weeks lasting about an hour.
Archives dating back to 2006.
Presented by Jamil Zainasheff and Jon Plise, this show tackles one of the BJCP styles in every episode, as well as answering listener emails. The level of brewing knowledge is very high and focused on advising the listener how best to produce a particular style of beer, using extract or all grain brewing techniques. The style is more banter orientated with a bit of what the Americans would call “locker room” humour, but it is not done to the level where it gets in the way of the topic at hand.
One programme every two weeks, lasting over an hour.
Archives dating back to August 2008.
The new kid on the block, this brewcast is presented by Jamil Zainasheff of The Jamil Show and John Palmer, author of my favourite brewing book How to Brew. These two knowledgeable brewers came together to write Brewing Classic Styles and began recording this brewcast as a way of addressing questions people have about the general brewing process, as opposed to the challenges of brewing a particular style. So far the shows have discussed Melanoidins, Attenuation, Head Retention, Wood Aging and Metals That Affect Your Beer. The style is similar to that of the Jamil Show, but with perhaps a little less of the American “locker room” about it.
There are many other brewcasts out there, with differing formats and emphases. Some are more beer appreciation oriented with little or no brewing information, some include music and some are just a couple of drunks playing with recording equipment. The ones I have mentioned are just the ones I like, but that does not mean that you will like them, or dislike others.