Last month, I introduced you thirsty readers to Justin Kennedy, one of Brooklyn’s most prolific beer-themed podcast producers. This week, I’ve got podcaster and award-winning homebrewer Robert Sherrill in the hot seat, ready to tell all about his brand new show, Brew to Share. Laid back, informative, thoughtful and often hilarious, Brew to Share celebrates the local craft beer and homebrewing community in New York City by bringing folks from all corners of the industry together over interesting discussion and, of course, great beer.
Meredith Heil: Tell me what Brew to Share is all about.
Robert Sherrill: The Brew To Share podcast is a series of informal one-on-one conversations that you might overhear at a bar between Beer Hear: Talking with Local Beer Podcasters Pt. 2 two people who are passionate about beer. It’s been my experience that beer brings communities together, and talking about beer and sharing beer-related ideas only strengthens that community. The relaxed conversations I record aim to bring the people that make the NYC beer scene so great to a wider audience. It’s archived on iTunes and Stitcher, and also available to stream at brewtoshare.com.
MH: What gave you the idea to start your own podcast and how did you get into podcasting?
RS: Since becoming a homebrewer a little more than three years ago, I’ve gotten to know some of the people in the local beer community. Suddenly, I began finding myself in the most fascinating conversations with people I would have never met were it not for beer. Those conversations would stretch for hours, trading stories and recipes over pints, and some of the best advice I’ve received about my beer has come naturally out of those conversations.
At some point, it occurred to me that the conversations I was having with brewers, both professionals and hobbyists, could be useful to others. Being a fan of podcasts, I recognized it as a platform to advocate for the local beer scene, and it also provided an opportunity to bring these people and their ideas to a wider audience.
MH: Do you have a background in audio engineering, or are you learning as you go?
RS: None whatsoever–in fact, I should say that the audio in the first two episodes of the podcast is just terrible! I was just learning the recording equipment and the audio quality in no way matches the quality of the guests (local homebrewers Sean Torres and Hollis Smith). I owe it to both guests to have them back on since the quality has greatly improved.
For any of the audio geeks out there, I record on a Macbook Pro in Logic Pro X using 2 Rode condenser microphones that are patched into a Taskcam 1800 Interface. I compile each component and edit in Garageband on my iMac. Finally, the edited MP3 is uploaded to Auphonic to level out the sound for an easier listening experience.
MH: What makes Brew to Share different than all the other beer or brewing-themed podcasts out there?
RS: My podcast mainly focuses on brewers, both professionals and hobbyists, as well as writers and other industry professionals in the NYC area. I don’t go into the studio with any sort agenda or a pre-written set of questions. The goal is to be informative and entertaining and have the kind of conversations I mentioned above–only recorded and put out on the internet where it will live forever. My podcast highlights the people whose beer I love and whose ideas I respect. It’s these people that make the NYC beer scene such an open, warm and welcoming environment in a city that is often anything but.
MH: Why do you think beer and brewing are such popular subjects to cover these days?
RS: Without a doubt, it’s about the people involved. Beer people are just the best people. And then also, it’s beer. Beer is just rad. Beer has the ability to open us up to our own humanity. Great beer acts as a social lubricant by giving us a common thing to gather around. “What are you drinking?” is the easiest question to ask the person next to you in a bar. It starts a conversation that has the potential to show us that we aren’t all that dissimilar from one another. I think that, in particular, really resonates with audiences.
MH: So what podcasts are you listening to, besides Brew to Share, of course?
RS: You want beer podcasts? I got your beer podcasts: Fuhmentaboutit! hosted by Mary Izett and Chris Cuzme and Beer Sessions Radio hosted by Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43, both from the Heritage Radio Network. Also, Steal This Beer hosted by Carton Brewing’s Augie Carton, Beer Sessions Radio producer Justin Kennedy and and John Holl, editor of All About Beer Magazine).
Outside of New York, I like Good Beer Hunting hosted by Michael Kiser, The Insider’s Roundtable hosted by Chris Quinn of The Beer Temple, and until just a few weeks ago, the recently canceled Strange Brews from WBEZ (producer of This American Life and Serial) hosted by Andrew Gill and Alison Cuddy, which was billed as the only podcast about beer produced by Public Radio. Hopefully we’ll see another iteration of that podcast in the near future.
In terms of homebrewing specific podcasts, I listen Basic Brewing Radio, hosted by James Spencer, Beersmith Homebrewing Podcast hosted by Brad Smith, creator of the Beersmith Software for recipe formulation and Brew Strong, hosted by Heretic Brewing’s Jamil Zainasheff and homebrewing legend John Palmer, author of How To Brew.
Completely unrelated to beer, I like to binge on episodes of Fresh Air with Terri Gross and The Nerdist Podcast hosted by Chris Hardwick before going into the studio. Both hosts have easy manners when interviewing guests and, in different ways, are great examples of how to be a gracious host.
MH: Do you see beer-themed podcasts as a phenomena that will keep popping up more and more across the audio-on-demand landscape?
RS: I sure hope so! In America today, we see more craft breweries in operation and more people brewing at home than at any other time in our history. The conversations about and around beer will continue to grow just to keep pace. Craft beer pioneer and Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman once said, “Brewing beer is a great thing to do with your life.” I can get on board with that. I would also add that advocating for well-made, local beer is a pretty fun–and delicious–thing to do with your life. If anyone out there is interested in starting a podcast, do it. You can bet I’ll be listening.