Podcasts are great for commuting. You get fresh content regularly, on almost any topic out there. I hardly ever listen to music on my iPod, since the only time I really ever listen to music is when I’m at work, and that is really just to help drown out distractions around me.
So, about half of the podcasts I subscribe to are beer-related, and half of those are homebrewing specific. Here is a listing of what I subscribe to. If you know of any other good ones, please let me know.
- Homebrewing related podcasts
- Basic Brewing Radio – James Spencer hosts this podcast, which is mostly an interview format. He starts out responding to listener feedback (generally submitted in the form of email), and then plays an interview he conducted. The interview subjects are often other homebrewers who have performed experiments, or professional brewers. Chris Colby from Brew Your Own magazine is also a frequent guest, and he discusses an upcoming topic from the magazine with James. The production quality of this podcast is very good, presumably since that is what James does for a living. I guess the podcasts started out as a way to promote the DVDs that he sells on his web site, so there is a certain amount of self-promotion and shameless plugging in the podcast, but it is all at the beginning and the end, and he never goes into a rehearsed-sounding reading of some ad copy during the interviews. For this reason, these plugs are complete non-offensive, and don’t bother me in the slightest.
- Basic Brewing Video – James Spencer and Steve Wilkes produce a short (~10 mins) video episode, every couple weeks. It usually consists of a demonstration, or something that is visually appealing. This contrasts with the audio podcasts, which is just conversation, of course. I only mention this because some people who produce both audio and video podcasts will just video-tape themselves talking, and call it a video podcast. Basic Brewing Video actually makes very good use of the media. Once again, the production quality is very high, and the self-promotion is all stuffed into the end, so it is not annoying.
- The Jamil Show – Jamil Zainasheff hosts this show, along with John Plise. They go over each of the styles in Jamil’s book, Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew, one style per episode. These episodes are actually done live, and people listening live can ask questions in the chat room, which Jamil will address toward the end of the show. There is an amazing wealth of information in this show, but it is full of advertisements. They will interrupt the show to go to commercial break, and play pre-recorded commercials, and also Jamil will find a way to mention how much he loves Northern Brewer a few times during the show. It can get pretty annoying at times, but I still like the show for all the information it provides. You can also tell when the guys have perhaps tasted a little too much beer during the show, and they get off topic. It is still entertaining conversation, though, for the most part. The production quality is very good here.
- Craft-beer related podcasts
- Craft Beer Radio – Jeff Bearer and Greg Weiss host this beer-tasting podcast. They will choose a theme for the episode, and taste and discuss beers that fit that theme. The themes are usually beer styles, but they can be other things too, like picking beers from a particular state, or all from one brewery. They analyze the beers, but don’t pay too much attention to style guidelines. They will mention if a beer doesn’t quite fit the style guideline, but the primary thing they evaluate is how enjoyable the beer is to drink. I like this approach a lot, since beer should be about enjoyment, not about hitting the right numbers (IBUs, SRM, SG, etc). They also promote an atmosphere of responsible and respectful beer appreciation, often noting that a beer isn’t worth the “sobriety tax” if it is high in alcohol, but wasn’t flavorful enough. The production quality is very good now, though it wasn’t so great in some of their earlier shows.
- Craft Beer Radio Pre/Post Show – This isn’t really a beer podcast, but it is the same guys that do Craft Beer Radio. They record their conversations before and after the main show (which they do a great job of keeping beer-related). They will usually discuss beer at least a little bit, especially if they are tasting one. They also discuss many other topics, from popular television, to astronomy, to quantum physics, to drug use, to computer programming, to parenthood, etc. Greg and Jeff have a great rapport with each other, so even if they are talking about random things, it is entertaining.
- The Good Beer Show – This is as much a music show as it is a beer show. Jeffrey T and his cohorts taste and discuss beer while interviewing a band. The bands are usually local musicians (local to Muncie, IN). They will play a few songs from the guest band, or other local/independent musicians in between discussing the beer and other random topics. The show is recorded in a bar, and there will be background noises. Often, more than one person will talk at the same time, and some people are further from microphones than others. This gives the show a feeling like you are going out to a bar with a group of friends, which is pretty nice, and contrasts with the other podcasts on this list. Sometimes, they get a little too much beer, and things can get interesting…
That is my list of beer podacsts that I enjoy. I have listened to a few others before, but I didn’t really like them, either because the recording quality was too low, or the conversations weren’t engaging enough, or it sounded like it was really just some guys taping themselves as they got drunk. If you know of any other podcasts (that don’t fall into those categories) I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
I’ve also created an OPML file of these feeds, if you are interested.