Emily Sauter is cooler than you. Not only does she work a sweet day job as Social Media Manager for Connecticut’s state-of-the-art Two Roads Brewing Company, she also went to graduate school for cartoon art (honestly) and she pens the adorable and informative Pints & Panels, a weekly comic blog that follows Emily around as she reviews the world’s best brews. I spoke to Emily this week about good art, great craft beer and, well — is there anything else?
How did you get into beer?
I always liked the idea of smaller brands. During college, we drank a lot of Yuengling, which seemed pretty small back then. The beer that really got me into the scene was a Sam Adams White Ale, their spring seasonal,, during the Steelers-Seahawks Super Bowl in 2006. I I ordered a 25 ounce pour of White Ale at a sports bar in Keene, New Hampshire, and it was delicious.
What inspired you to start Pints & Panels?
Pints & Panels started as something to fill the time, actually. I was in graduate school at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT — yes, this is a real a place that exists and is awesome — and the summer between my first and second year, I had a month to kill before I began an internship in New York. I was running errands one morning and I just thought “Hey, it would be pretty cool to review beer in comic form.” I went home and told my boyfriend at the time who, without looking up from what he was doing, said, “Good idea. You should call it Pints and Panels.” I started drawing it that afternoon.
Tell me about your creative process.
I keep a list of reviews on my phone that I write while I’m out drinking at a bar or at home having a beer. Then, I use those reviews to draw on weekends, usually in the morning when first I wake up. I’ll have some breakfast, watch documentaries and spend my morning drawing. Right now, I’m watching the 1968 BBC documentary “Civilisation” with Sir Kenneth Clark. It’s on Youtube — thirteen parts on the history of art in Western Civilization. If you happen to like adorable old British men and the history of the church’s role in developing perspective, it’s for you.
What lead to you to put yourself in the starring role throughout these comics? Was it your personal love for beer or was it a formatting decision?
I was drawing a lot of diary comics at the time, so that’s why I’m the one reviewing the beer in the series. I haven’t updated my appearance at all though — that’s my character from 2006 when I had long hair and square glasses, and I can’t seem to change her.
The formatting actually came from my thesis review in graduate school. The original comic was a square and the coloring was random. Then my Professors said “Here — use colors from the bottle as background, and make it longer. We want more.” I immediately changed it and it stuck.
Do you have a favorite piece? Does it happen to feature your favorite beer, or do you just like the way the comic came out?
I like best when I can draw more than just me at the bar, so I really like this one I did of Bantam Wunderkind Cider because of the first panel. It also happens to be a great cider. I like when I get to draw nature or surroundings or when I’m working with a particular theme. I also really like to draw Christmas beers, summer beers and beers whose labels are fun to draw like Grimm or Prairie — their artists are killer. But, to be honest, I don’t really have a favorite. I’ve done about 500 reviews so far, and some are better drawn than others.
How did going to work for Two Roads affect your blog?
It didn’t really. I had to make some changes based on the brewery’s wishes, but they were minor. The brewing scene is really easy going and laid back, so bloggers are supported here more than in other industries. I’m always posting blogs about Two Roads on our site, and I love it when another brewery gives me feedback on my own blog. It’s a close-knit community.
Does working so closely with craft beer everyday inspire your comics?
I try to keep the worlds separate, mostly because they’re two different things, but it’s great when I get to work beer festivals because I’ll find new beers to review. The big festivals are especially fun — I get to discover so many great beers and talk about Two Roads at the same time!
I love any artist that can convey work while drawing in a pared down, simple style. Dash Shaw’s Bottomless Belly Button is a must read. Vanessa Davis is also amazing. Anything written by my classmates from the Center for Cartoon Studies is going to be great — I went to school with a lot of talented and hard-working cartoonists.
What about beers?
Victory Prima Pils on draft is always a good standby, especially when it’s fresh. I just tried Bees with a Buzz by Grimm Artisanal Ales and loved it. Mystic Brewing’s Table Beer is another good one — low ABV and high amount of flavor. And I’m also excited for Two Roads Henry’s Farm Doppelbock to come back in stock. It’s our assistant brewmaster’s recipe and he is a whiz with lagers.
Big question: do you draw these comics with a beer in hand?
Well, I usually draw in the morning, so no. But, one of my favorite activities is to go to bars by myself and draw. I usually get the most done there and people in the industry are really friendly about it. One of my best drawing marathons happened at Zach Mack’s Alphabet City Beer Co. There was drawing, amazing beers, a super nice beertender and the Giants were on TV. I was into it.