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Heavy Hops

Arts & Culture Podcasts

Heavy Hops is an interview format podcast featuring conversations with leaders, creators, insiders and innovators in the beverage and music industries. We are passionate about heavy music and beer, driven by curiosity, and interested in showcasing a variety of viewpoints and opinions. From the creator of Scorched Tundra, hosted by Alexi D. Front. New episodes every Thursday.

Heavy Hops is an interview format podcast featuring conversations with leaders, creators, insiders and innovators in the beverage and music industries. We are passionate about heavy music and beer, driven by curiosity, and interested in showcasing a variety of viewpoints and opinions. From the creator of Scorched Tundra, hosted by Alexi D. Front. New episodes every Thursday.


United States


Heavy Hops is an interview format podcast featuring conversations with leaders, creators, insiders and innovators in the beverage and music industries. We are passionate about heavy music and beer, driven by curiosity, and interested in showcasing a variety of viewpoints and opinions. From the creator of Scorched Tundra, hosted by Alexi D. Front. New episodes every Thursday.




HH 093: As The Writing Process Unfolds (Will & Sam Skarstad/Yellow Eyes, Ustalost)

One of my favorite parts about talking to musicians is getting to the heart of why they make the creative and musical decisions that are then committed to tape or performed live. Why did they choose to write their lyrics in a certain manner? Why did they record their live album in a historic water tower? How will they reimagine older material for an upcoming performance? The thread among many of these conversations is that they are reflections musicians share on what they’ve done or will do....


HH 092: Human-Size Stories (Michael Kiser/Good Beer Hunting)

Good Beer Hunting has changed how beer is covered and viewed. Over the past decade, founder Michael Kiser and his team have used photography, long form journalism, podcasting, humor and even festivals as avenues for sharing experiences, flavors and perhaps most importantly, human-size stories. I joined Michael at GBH studio in West Town, and over glasses of Bourbon County Barley Wine and Schlenkerla Weizen we discussed our mutual histories in beer, how covering it has changed over time, and...


HH 091: Historiographies (Tara Nurin/A Woman's Place Is In The Brewhouse)

Tara Nurin is a veteran freelance writer, consultant, lecturer and educator who focuses on the culture, history and business of beer. Her most recent book A Woman’s Place Is In The Brewhouse: A Forgotten History of Alewives, Brewsters, Witches and CEOs (Chicago Review Press, September 2021) covers these exact topics, celebrating the contributions and influence of female brewers,. Our conversation focuses on herstory - history considered or presented from a feminist viewpoint or with special...


HH 090: Back On The Road (Kirill Orlov & Marc Najjar/Huntsmen)

Joining us this week are Kirill Orlov and Marc Najjar guitarist and bassist/vocalist respectively of Huntsmen. The bands unique combination of folk Americana with doom-inspired heavy sections and harmonized vocals are presented through different production and storytelling lenses on the band's debut American Scrap and 2020’s Mandala of Fear. The re-release of American Scrap by Prosthetic Records will be supplemented with a special performance of the album at Roadburn Festival. We discuss how...


HH 089: Context Is Crucial (Martin Atkins/Museum of Post Punk & Industrial Music)

Martin Atkins’ experience as a musician and entrepreneur spans genres, borders and industries. He was a member of Public Image Limited with Johnny Rotten, Ministry, Killing Joke, and Pigface in addition to being a performer with Nine Inch Nails. He’s touched every aspect of the music industry and covered it in his three books. We discuss Martin’s most recent undertaking, the Museum of Post Punk and Industrial Music in Chicago and what it's been like collecting, and deciding what to do with...


HH 088: Hybrid Strains (Lance Shaner/Omega Yeast Lab)

Joining me this week is Lance Shaner, founder of Omega Yeast Lab in Chicago. A microbiologist by training and former patent attorney, Lance’s analytical approach to creating hybrid yeast strains for breweries was groundbreaking from the inception of Omega Yeast in 2013. We discuss how Lance approaches creating these hybrid strains of yeast, and we give special attention to Omega’s Hothead - the first commercially produced Kveik strain available in North America. As the yeast lab that has...


HH 087: The Taste of a Tastemaker (Jerald O’Kennard/Beverage Testing Institute)

Joining me this week is Jerald O’Kennard, Director of the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago. BTI’s independent reviews of beer, wine and spirits are highly influential internally within the bev-alc industry and with consumers. Pappy Van Winkle received a considerable boost to its brand recognition in 1997 when BTI awarded it a 99/100, the highest awarded score at that time. In an era where social media and democratized ratings platforms influence portfolio decisions for makers,...


HH 086: Thermal Runaway (Katie Davies/Pupil Slicer)

Joining me today is Katie Davies, guitarist and vocalist for the British grindcore band Pupil Slicer. The band’s debut Mirrors was released in March 2021 and it captured my interest, the combination of mathcore, grind and post metal was unique in its delivery and transportive in its effect on me as a listener. I found myself revisiting Converge’s Jane Doe and Dillinger Escape Plan’s Calculating Infinity, finding new musical and lyrical nuggets within those classic albums. In addition to...


HH 085: Critique Is An Act of Storytelling (JJ Koczan/The Obelisk)

Joining me this week is JJ Koczan, founder of The Obelisk, an online publication focusing on desert rock, stoner and doom metal. JJ and I both found our way into the music industry around twenty years ago through college radio and journalism. JJ became Managing Editor at The Aquarian Weekly and Associate Editor at Metal Maniacs Magazine in New York before creating The Obelisk thirteen years ago. I wanted to understand how JJ negotiates being a fan of heavy music in addition to someone who...


HH 084: Make Them Bleed From The Eyes (Ammo)

Joining us week is Amaury “Ammo” Dastarac, a freelance illustrator based in Brussels. You’ve likely seen Ammo’s work; he’s created concert and festival posters for Neurosis, Converge, The Melvins, Chelsea Wolfe, Enslaved and Hellfest. He’s also illustrated beer labels for breweries De Ranke, Cantillon and most recently Brasserie De La Mule. We discuss his style, visual and musical inspirations, how he crossed over into illustrating beer labels, embedding himself first into legendary venue...


HH 083: Efficient Isn't Always Better (Lou Bank & Chava Peribán/S.A.C.R.E.D & Agave Road Trip Podcast)

For a few years I’ve been intrigued by agave spirits, and in particular Mezcal. The flavor profiles, methods of production and history of these beverages are fascinating and delicious. In the interest of promoting curiosity, an eternal goal of this podcast, I wanted to give space to this unique world of beverages that have an intriguing sense of place. Joining me in this endeavor are Lou Bank and Chava Peribán, Executive Director and Project Manager respectively of S.A.C.R.E.D, a 501(c)(3)...


HH 082: Under The "L" In Evanston (Paul Hletko/Few Spirits)

Joining me this week is Paul Hletko, founder and distiller of Few Spirits in Evanston, immediately north of Chicago. Hletko’s imaginative approach to bourbon, whiskey and gin have garnered many accolades since Few’s inception in 2011 including Whiskey Advocate Craft Whiskey of the Year and Icons of Gin World Distiller of the Year. We discuss his approach to ingredient selection and the construction of his brown spirits including mash bill, barrel sourcing, yeast strains, and adjuncts. The...


HH 081: Wall of Amps (Greg Anderson/Sunn 0))), Southern Lord Records)

Joining us this week is Greg Anderson, co-founder of the experimental metal band Sunn O))) and its label home Southern Lord Records. We discuss the band’s recent output Metta, Benevolence BBC 6Music: Live On the Invitation of Mary Anne Hobbs a live recording captured in 2019 at the legendary Maida Vale Studios in London. We discuss how these drones and improvisations from the band’s 2019 releases Life Metal and Pyroclasts came to life and evolved over the course of their last European tour,...


HH 080: The Second Testament (Jeff Alworth/Beervana, The Beer Bible)

Jeff Alworth, an award-winning beer writer based in Portland, Oregon is our guest this week. Jeff has authored five books on beer, The Widmer Way, The Secrets of Master Brewers, Cider Made Simple, Beer Tasting Tool Kit, and The Beer Bible. A second edition of the Beer Bible was released in September 2021, and we took the opportunity to discuss beer broadly and through a social lens. We explore evolutions within the brewing world, fluidity of beer styles, how the proliferation of information...


HH 079: Experiences and Experiencing (Esben Willems/Monolord, Studio Berserk)

This week we’re joined by Esben Willems, drummer in Swedish heavy band Monolord. Your Time To Shine, the band’s fifth album, was released last year on Relapse Records, and we dive into it from his perspective as a musician and producer. Your Time To Shine was his first recording in Studio Berserk, which he took over a year ago. We also discuss touring during the pandemic and the doom label, which is often how the media characterize Monolord. Esben has handled editing, mixing and mastering of...


HH 078: Happiness From The Sky (Luca Cimarusti/Annihilus, Luggage)

Joining me this week is Luca Cimarusti - drummer in Chicago-based heavy trio Luggage, and leader of his solo black metal project Annihilus. Both bands were creatively active in 2021 and released new material, Happiness is Luggage’s fourth album and Follow A Song From The Sky is the second Annihilus offering. We discuss these two albums on their own and in comparison, and cap off the conversation by highlighting stand out releases from 2021. Check out this playlist that features the albums...


HH 077: Wheaties & Lucky Charms (Kate Bernot/Good Beer Hunting Sightlines, Craft Beer & Brewing)

Joining us this week is Kate Bernot, a contributing Editor for Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine, Sightlines contributor for Good Beer Hunting, and previously beer editor for Draft Magazine. In addition to her award winning writing, she is a BJCP certified beer judge, based in Montana. Her work covers a variety of companies and stories within the alcohol and beer spaces, making her the perfect insider for our wrap up of 2021 and peek into 2022. Our wide-ranging conversation touches on...


HH 076: Protest Songs (Zach Blair/Rise Against)

Joining us this week is Zach Blair, lead guitarist in the legendary punk band Rise Against. For anyone that grew up in Chicago in the early 2000s and was at all interested in rock music, Rise Against was a touchstone. We use the group’s recent EP Nowhere Sessions as a lens into the tradition of punk rock covers of protest songs and their live resonance. We also touch on the crucial role that metal music played in shaping Zach as a guitarist, his time as a member and writer in Gwar, and how...


HH 075: Discovering Cultural Confidence (Lucy Corne/On Tap Magazine/African Beer Cup)

Joining me this week is Lucy Corne a freelance writer and beverage industry consultant based in Cape Town. She is the Editor of On Tap Magazine, South Africa’s only magazine dedicated to beer. Lucy is BJCP and Cicerone® certified, having judged a number of competitions globally, including the African Beer Cup, the only pan-African beer competition, of which she is the co-founder. Her recent profile of South African hop grower Khaya Maloney for Good Beer Hunting was recognized by the North...


HH 074: Death Metal Forever (Anders "El Guapo" Gustafsson/Zombiekrig)

Joining us this week is Anders “El Guapo” Gustafsson, founding guitarist of Zombiekrig, a thrash metal band based in Gothenburg Sweden. The band released new studio material for the first time in almost a decade on December 10th - Dödstecken an EP two new songs and live recordings captured at the second Scorched Tundra festival edition in 2012, one of the band's last shows. The tracks incorporate new elements into Zombiekrig’s established hybrid of punk, continental thrash, and classic...