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It Starts With Beer

Arts & Culture Podcasts

The best conversations start with beer and go somewhere else.

The best conversations start with beer and go somewhere else.


United States


The best conversations start with beer and go somewhere else.






Old Dad, New Baby, and Low-ABV Beer

In ep 48, I confront the complicated feelings that low and no alcohol beer bring out in my rapidly aging body. Like this episode, I am also 48, and I have a toddler. To make sense of my new love of low-ABV beer without giving up my tiny amount of cool cred, I turned to experts and trusted friends: Good Beer Hunting reporter Kate Bernot, Bottle Stop beer buyer Kevin Thomas, Athletic Brewing brewer John Walker, and all-around nice guy Art Hendrickson Jr. This is my first "narrative" episode...


Cooking and baking with The Beeroness, Jackie Dodd Mallory

In ep 47, I chat with author and recipe creator Jackie Dodd Mallory, known as The Beeroness. She makes baking and cooking with beer seem easy and fun and she teaches me some valuable basics on when and how to use beer as an ingredient, the importance of yeast, why brown ale is like a bass player, how to take better beer photographs, and more. Stay for the Afterparty, when I talk about the past and future of this nearly 1-year-old podcast. This episode is sponsored by Back East Brewing of...


Counter Weight Brewing's Matt Westfall

In ep 46, we meet Matt Westfall, founder of the award-winning Counter Weight Brewing Company of Hamden, Connecticut. We discuss how he branched out on his own after 9 years with iconic New England Brewing Company, what it’s like to weather COVID-19 restrictions, and how he’s planning to build a new brewery. During the Afterparty, I discuss the recent draconian Connecticut Consumer Protection mandate that forces breweries to essentially become brewpubs or face hefty fines. And we listen to...


The 16oz. Canvas Podcast host AJ Keirans

In ep 45, we meet AJ Keirans, who hosts a podcast that features the artists behind the beer. The 16oz. Canvas Podcast delves into the artist's role in creating a label's look and impact. I take AJ into another virtual pub; this one is designed like a giant museum that features beer art only. We talk about the process of creating beauty that most likely will end up in a recycling heap and why that matters in the ecosystem that is craft beer. This ep is sponsored by Back East Brewing of...


South African beer with writer Lucy Corne

In ep 44, we travel to South Africa -- Capetown, to be specific -- and meet travel and beer writer Lucy Corne. We discuss South African beer history and present, what life as a travel writer is like in the time of COVID, and how exactly to pronounce a traditional drink spelled “Umqombothi.” You can follow Lucy on Twitter: @LucyCorne. This episode was sponsored by Brass Works Brewing, Waterbury, Conn. Read Corne’s article from Good Beer Hunting: Embracing Tradition--To Create a Style for...


'Beer With Strangers' Host Tony Russo

In ep 43, I got a chance to chat with experienced podcaster, writer, and fellow New Jersey native Tony Russo. We talked about his excellent podcast, Beer With Strangers, and his ventures into podcasts about veterans, writers, and true crime. We chatted in the virtual, "Pub Strange." You can follow Tony on Twitter: @ByTonyRusso. Music: "Rock Angel" by Joakim Karud


Writer Tara Nurin

In ep 42, I had the privilege to talk to Tara Nurin, an independent journalist who writes for Forbes and other publications. We talked about her book about the role women have played in the history of brewing, set for publication by the Chicago Review Press in the fall of 2021. We also discussed the world of beer writing, and I got some highlights of her intriguing career. Tara is also a speaker and has great upcoming events, so if you’d like to sign up, here are some links: Virtual Beer...


Firefly Hollow Brewing: Chat and tasting

For episode 41 I hung out on location with Dana Bourque and Justin Dawley of Firefly Hollow Brewing on their beautiful loading dock in Bristol, Connecticut. We chatted about the brewery’s history, what makes their beer stand out, and how they fit into the overall landscape of Connecticut and American beer. I also got to sample several of their beers and you can join me on my flight of fancy. This episode is sponsored by Labyrinth Brewing of Manchester, Connecticut. Send any correspondence...


'Beer and Racism' coauthor Nathaniel Chapman

In ep 40, cohost Jamal Robinson and I interviewed Nathaniel Chapman, a professor of sociology and co-author of “Beer and Racism: How Beer Became White, Why It Matters, and the Movements to Change It.” Chapman said that he and his co-author David L. Brunsma have faced backlash for the book, including death threats, from parts of the web well known for white supremacists. We discuss why he wrote it, what it uncovered, and how we can overcome white fragility and make some honest change in the...


Julia Herz, beer educator and consultant

Julia Herz has shaped the rise of American craft beer for over 10 years, primarily as the program director of the Brewers Association. In episode 39, this author/speaker/educator/consultant talks about how the beer scene has changed since she joined the association and how being laid off in June has shifted her focus, prompting a vision quest. After the interview is the Afterparty, when I talk about joining the Hopped Up Network.. Background music: “Encounter with a Mech Patrol Unit” by...


Beer quality expert Mary Pellettieri

What do breweries need to do to ensure quality? My guest Mary Pellettieri in ep 38 of It Starts With Beer knows. Join special cohost Chris Sayer of Brewery Legitimus and I for an informative conversation that covers material from her book, "Quality Management," advice for small breweries, and gems of wisdom from Mary, who has taught at the Siebel Institute; worked with Goose Island, Miller, and many other breweries; and written extensively on many beer quality topics. Background music:...


Athletic Brewing's John Walker

How do you feel about non-alcoholic beer? Why do folks drink it and why is becoming more popular? In ep 37, we meet John Walker, the head brewer at Athletic Brewing Company of Stratford, Connecticut. He explains why his beer tastes unlike any other n/a beer on the market and talks about his journey from New England restaurant kid to Western U.S. blacksmith to seeing his beer being distributed all over the country. This episode is sponsored by Brass Works Brewing in Waterbury,...


Artist Kat Manning

In episode 36, we meet Kat Manning, the marketing director for the Connecticut Brewers Guild, a photographer with her own Hello Studio, and a label designer for Connecticut breweries. We talk about what makes for effective marketing for breweries online and on cans, how she brings her design aesthetic to breweries like Armada Brewing, Marlowe Ales, and Alvarium Beer. This episode is sponsored by Nod Hill Brewery in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Copyright free background music: “Rock Angel” by...


The Craft Crew

In ep 35, we meet the Craft Crew: James, Jamel, and Antron, who are determined to "widen the demographic" and introduce beer to Black and Latinx drinkers in Connecticut while supporting minority-owned businesses and organizations. They brew, they throw mixers, they make review videos, and they are a lot of fun to hang out with. Episode 35 is sponsored by Nod Hill Brewery of Ridgefield, Connecticut and Brass Works Brewing of Waterbury, Connecticut Mentioned: Blue Moon, Knee Deep Brewing,...


Allan Heida of I Know Nothing About Beer Podcast

Ep 34: Allan Heida is a busy guy, what with his I Know Nothing About Beer podcast and Dad Domesticus, a look at the Stay At Home Dad (SAHD) life on YouTube. We talk about beer in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, how best to take a kid to a brewery, and why he’s still hopeful. You can follow him as @AlTheBrewer on Instagram and Twitter. This episode is sponsored by Nod Hill Brewery of Ridgefield, Connecticut. Music in episode: Chill Lo-Fi Hip Hop Mix, “Coast to Coast” by Ducks Deluxe, “I Can...


Beer Talk Now Podcast's Daryl Neal

Daryl Neal is the insightful host of Beer Talk Now who knows his Bay Area beer. In episode 33, I talk to D. Neal about the beer scene in and around the 'Sco, why pilsners are great, the myth of racial harmony in Northern California and more. Join us in my virtual creation -- The Bay Area Pub -- then stay for the Afterparty. This episode is sponsored by Back East Brewing in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Discussed in the ep: East Brother Beer, Counterweight Brewing Company, Oakland United Beer...


Package store life with Bottle Stop's Girish and Kevin

In ep 32 we get to hear about life behind the counter at the liquor store, or as we in New England call them, package stores. Girish Patel and Kevin Thomas of Bottle Stop in Torrington, Conn., are our guides. My on-site interview includes a tasting of Alvarium Beer Company and Firefly Hollow Brewing beer. Don’t forget to hang out at the Afterparty following the on-site interview. This episode is sponsored by Back East Brewing of Bloomfield, Connecticut. Intro music: “Heat It Up” by Willy...


Pilsner with author Tom Acitelli

Ep 31: Tom Acitelli has a lot of experience in writing about alcohol, and when it comes to writing about beer, he’s one of the best. His recent book, “Pilsner,” (Chicago Review Press) is an informative, entertaining look at how this style of beer interacted with history and dominated the world. Enjoy my interview with Tom and then stick around for the Afterparty. Episode sponsored by Back East Brewing. Intro music: “Heat It Up” by Will & the George Background music: “German Music and...


Farm Brewing with Barry Labendz of Kent Falls

Ep 30! Interested in farm breweries and farmhouse ale? Enjoy my talk with Barry Labendz, co-founder of Kent Falls Brewing in Kent, Connecticut, which in 2015 opened as the first modern farm brewery in the state. Barry and his team started out with a farmhouse beer focus, and Barry and I talk about just what that means. We talk about his dedication to local ingredients, from the hops that come from their own farm and nearby Smokedown Farm (subject of ISWB Ep 29), to the grain that comes from...


Hops! With Ally Hughes and James Shepherd of Smokedown Farm

It’s almost hop harvesting time, so in ep 29 learn about hop growing from those who get their hands dirty in this episode, featuring Dr. James Shepherd, owner of Smokedown Farm in Sharon, Connecticut, and farm manager Ally Hughes. Shepherd -- an epidemiologist on the front lines of dealing with COVID-19 -- provides some unexpected insight into the connection between virus control and hops, and Hughes discusses how their hops make local beers extra special. This episode is sponsored by...