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It Starts With Beer

Arts & Culture Podcasts

The best conversations start with beer and go somewhere else.


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The best conversations start with beer and go somewhere else.






Beer writer and podcaster David Nilsen

Writer David Nilsen discusses his approach to creating imagery and transporting the reader in ep 54. Nilsen is also the host of Bean to Barstool, a podcast that delves into the worlds of beer and craft chocolate. We talk about some of David's favorite pieces, how the act of sharing a beer or a meal can offer new opportunities to learn about others' experiences, and why Bell's Two Hearted IPA is so amazing. This episode is sponsored by Brass Works Brewing of Waterbury, Conn. Please subscribe to It Starts With Beer and tell a friend about the podcast. Cheers!


Tara Nurin: A Woman‘s Place? The Brewhouse!

Author Tara Nurin returns in Ep 53 to talk about her new book, A Woman's Place Is In the Brewhouse (Chicago Review Press). I urge you to order this book. While you wait, listen to our conversation about the roles of women in the brewing world from prehistory to the present. You can follow Tara at @taranurin on Twitter, and check out her website: This episode is sponsored by Brass Works Brewing in Waterbury, Connecticut. Please tell others about this podcast, if you like it. You can get in touch with me via email at, and follow me on Instagram and Twitter: @beersnobwrites.


The Continuing Saga of Hanging Hills

Here's an episode for anyone interested in the risky side of owning a brewery. In Ep 52, I sit down with Joe Ploof, owner of Hanging Hills Brewing, which nearly died a tragic death after closing its tasting room doors in Hartford, Conn. It's now in a second life, contract brewing at East Rock Brewing in New Haven, Conn. In this episode we talk about the problems that Hanging Hills faced, how COVID nearly struck a fatal blow to the company, and the resurrection of a brand. Thanks for listening, and tell a friend or 6 about It Starts With Beer. Contact host and producer Will Siss:, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter: @beersnobwrites.


Brewing local with Stan Hieronymus

In ep 51, I had the privilege of talking to a giant in beer publishing. Stan Hieronymus has the rare ability to write for the casual and intensely informed reader. We focused primarily on the topic of using local ingredients in beer, as I recently read his 2016 book "Brewing Local: American-Grown Beer" (Brewers Publications). We veer off into how a recent love of the sweet in beer squares with tradition, and the commitment it takes to incorporate local ingredients like roots, mushrooms, honey, and spelt. This episode is sponsored by Back East Brewing in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Background music courtesy of Pixabay.


Instagram educators Em Sauter and Proper_Josh

Ep 50 (woo!) focuses on learning about beer from an unlikely place. As much as I enjoy scrolling through Instagram, it's primarily a fun factory of nonsense. However, Em Sauter (@pintsandpanels) and Proper_Josh (@proper_josh) make it a bit more educational. Em creates cartoons and Josh makes tasting videos and they both delve into beer from angles that are both informed yet fun. (You can see more of Em's work at Join me for the Afterparty, where I discuss Brass Works Brewing's Mango Habanero Fowl'd Up IPA. This episode is sponsored by Back East Brewing. Music is from Pixabay. Please share this episode with a friend if you like it, subscribe on your favorite podcast platform, and consider giving me a high rating wherever you listen. Thanks!


Barb Baker, Siren of Stout

It was a delight speaking with Barb Baker for episode 49. Known as the Siren of Stout, this Michigan-based beer blogger works with Fermenta, an organization that raises money to help women achieve more in the fermented arts, including brewing. She's partnered up with others to create her own pastry stout and honey wine, and she's always promoting others and passing along information on her Instagram account (@sirenofstout). We talk about the poise and confidence it takes to be an African-American woman in beer and her experience as a model, car show host, and actress. She's insightful and inspiring. This episode is brought to you by the good people at Back East Brewing in Bloomfield, Conn. The Afterparty beer is Abel Coconut Vanilla Porter from Brass Works Brewing in Waterbury, Conn. Background music is courtesy of Pixabay. Photo by Darrel Ellis for


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 and was a labor of love. It's not a straight interview, but a story told with many voices. I did the editing and even the music myself, with some help from Pixabay. Speaking of music, during the Afterparty, I spin the single "Strangers" by Coleus, so stick around for that. This episode is sponsored by Brass Works Brewing in Waterbury, Connecticut.


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 Bloomfield, Connecticut. You can learn more about Jackie at her website: Music: “Dreamy Day” by Caffeine Creek Band and “Summertime” by JuliusH (royalty-free from, and a snippet from “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” performed by Ella Fitzgerald Please follow, rate, and recommend It Starts With Beer podcast.


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 Afterparty track: “Songbird” by Jason Ingriselli and The Miles North Band. This episode is sponsored by Brass Works Brewing of Waterbury, Connecticut. You can find more episodes at, and you can email me at Background music: Intro: “Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, performed by the Apollo Symphony Orchestra Outro: “Cali” Wataboi, from


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 Bloomfield, Connecticut. Stay for the Afterparty Track after the interview, where I feature Shane Scarazzini and Eightfingers and their song, "West Virginia Girl." Featured labels: [Super Mantis IPA - Nod Hill Brewing - Artist: Brian Steely [Resting My Greatness Stout - Short Throw Brewing - Artist: Ryan Adams [Toxic Earth IPA - Abomination Brewing - Artist: Sam Heimer [Remedy stout - Houstatonic Brewing - Artist: Magge Gagliardi Background: [Music: Pixabay: “U said it” by Wataboi and “Midnight” by JuliusH [Effects: Zapsplat


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 the Future, South African Brewers Look to the Past Check out the magazine she edits about South African beer, On Tap. The Afterparty track is by Robert C. Fullerton, used with permission. Support his music on places like Bandcamp, Amazon, and Apple Music. Background music from Free Music For, featuring Bossa Nova mix.


'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 Tasting Class: Craft Beverage Expo Forum: Craft Beer Professionals Facebook event: This episode was sponsored by Labyrinth Brewing in Manchester, Connecticut. Background music: “Dreams” by Joaquim Kanud, “Bossa Nova Mix” by FreeSound Music, both copyright free.


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 to Background music: “& Kites” by Kavi and “I Can’t Get Started” by Bud Powell


'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 beer industry when it comes to diversity. This episode is sponsored by Labyrinth Brewing in Manchester, Connecticut. Mentioned in this episode: Ale Sharpton, Craft Crew, NEBCO, and the Chicago Newseum. Background music: “Misha, Monma” by Spiral, “Cafe Music from BGM Channel.”


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 Ibrahim, “Roundabout” by The Jaguars, and “Uh Oh” by The Imps. Photo: Brewers Association


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: “Lofi Hiphop Mix 2020” and “Piano Bar: Smooth Jazz Club at Midnight Buddha Café”


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, Connecticut. Background Music: “Lullaby” by Joakim Karud, “Joan’s Red Dress” by David Luong


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 Joakim Karud, “Not Too Cray” by Huma-Huma, and “The Lounge” by Reach out to me at


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, Samuel Adams, Tree House, NE Video, Unknown Clothing (New Britain), Fishy Tails, My Wife Didn’t Cook, Hog River Brewing, Hanging Hills Brewing, Jamal Robinson, Beer Kulture, New England Brewing Company, 16 Ounce Canvas podcast, The Hops Company, "This Ain’t the Beer That You’re Used To" by Dom "Doochie" Cook, The Sampler in Brooklyn,, Rhythm Brewing, Lady Lager, Urban League of Greater Hartford, and more. Music: “The Craft Crew Show” theme song by Born(IE), produced by GovMag. Reach out! I'm at and at