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Taplines

Author: VinePair

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It’s modern American history, one beer at a time! Join VinePair contributing editor and columnist Dave Infante for Taplines, a weekly interview series with brewing icons, industry insiders, and outspoken experts about the United States’ most beloved and best-selling beers. Bros discussing their favorite IPAs, this ain’t. Taplines is a mix of journalism, history, and beer that you won’t find anywhere else but the VinePair Podcast Network.

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48 Episodes
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Towards the end of the Teens, Kim Sturdavant was brewing at Social Kitchen & Brewery in San Francisco when he developed a new kind of India Pale Ale. He christened his crisp, dry varietal Hop Champagne, and christened the promising new substyle "Brut IPA," a nod to the sparkling wine that this new beer resembled. Brewers in the Bay Area loved it, and drinkers seemed to, too, so Sturdavant had high hopes for the substyle’s future. But just a few years later, Brut IPAs rarely earn mention from craft brewing enthusiasts (let alone casual drinkers) and if they do, it’s often in the form of a punchline. What happened? Well, that’s what Sturdavant joins Taplines today to talk through. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Pastry stouts — sweet, saccharine, indulgent beers built on flavors more common to a bakery than a brewery — emerged towards the end of last decade as a coveted, if occasionally maligned, pseudo-style of craft beer. Many trace their rise to a southern California brewer named Derek Gallanosa (currently: GOAL. Brewing, previously Moksa Brewing and Abnormal Beer Co.), who joins Taplines today to to recount the pastry stout’s humble beginnings and reflect on its sweet, surprising success with the American drinking public since. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
In the early months of the pandemic, Marcus Baskerville was working as the head brewer at Weathered Souls Brewing Company, the brewery he co-founded in San Antonio, when a police officer five states away murdered George Floyd. Marcus, who would go on to become a founding member of the National Black Brewers Association, had an idea to galvanize the industry and raise money for police brutality reform. What emerged was Black Is Beautiful, a stout recipe that would eventually be brewed by more than 1,600 breweries across the country (and 22 countries around the world.) The beer raised millions of dollars for charity, and provided a blueprint for cause beers to come. This is its story—and Marcus's story, too. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
In 1999, Vinny Warren was working at Chicago ad firm DDB and on the hunt for a hit idea for a Super Bowl spot for his client, Budweiser. The King of Beers was still selling better than Bud Light at that point, but just barely, and August Busch IV had been handed the reigns to rejuvenate the flagging flagship with a fresh new creative vision. As it turned out, Warren had just the thing. The short comedy sketch he stumbled across would eventually become the basis for "Whassup!", one of the most celebrated and successful beer ads of all time. It didn’t stanch Bud’s slide, because nothing could. But the ad and its follow-ups entered the phrase firmly into the American cultural vocabulary and was elected to the advertising industry’s Hall of Fame a few short years later. Here's how it all went down. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Joining Taplines today is Ryan Burk, the former head cider maker of Angry Orchard Hard Cider. These days, he’s making cider under his own label in upstate New York, working as a co-founder of the beverage innovation firm Feel Goods Company, and serving the Cider Institute of North America as a founding board member. But midway through last decade, Ryan was working at Michigan’s Virtue Cider when Boston Beer Company tapped him to lead production on its in-house hard cider brand, which was then making one out of every two barrels of cider sold in the US. Angry Orchard's legacy in the category is contentious: is it a vital gateway that led to broader hard cider acceptance, or a millstone holding back what cider could be in the American drinking imagination? Both? Neither? Listen on, listener. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Nothing exists in a vacuum, Taplines listener, and beer certainly doesn’t. When Stuart Bewley and his cofounder dreamed up the idea for California Cooler, single-serve fermented-fruit-based ready-to-drink in the mid-70s, they couldn't have known that it would inspire knockoffs from heavyweights in the wine industry (e.g., E. & J. Gallo’s Bartles and Jaymes) and the beer industry, too (Miller’s Matilda Bay, for example.) And get this: Bewley says the long-running boycott of a certain big-on-the-west-coast brewer was instrumental in getting California Cooler onto the trucks of distributors who otherwise might’ve not had anything to do with it. Nothing exists in a vacuum, after all. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
In the mid-2010s, J Jackson-Beckham, PhD was an academic with a homebrewing habit, blogging incisively about what she called “the unbearable whiteness of brewing.” Her deep expertise and singular voice eventually caught the eye of the Brewers Association, which tapped her to serve as the trade group’s first-ever “Diversity Ambassador” in 2018. Today, "Dr. J" joins Taplines to reflect on that moment — not only a pivotal one in her own career but also in the trajectory of the craft beer industry writ large as brewers big and small began trying to square their professed values with their business practices (and ideally, bring more paying customers to their taprooms, too.) That work is ongoing: shortly after we recorded this episode in late 2023, she joined the BA full-time as its director of social impact. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Joining Taplines today is Seth Gross, a former Goose Island Brewing Co. brewer who was at the meeting where Goose Island then-brewmaster Greg Hall and the late, legendary master distiller Booker Noe, of the Beam bourbon dynasty, first came up with the idea to barrel age a beer, how they did it… and what happened once rank-and-file drinkers got their hands on the final product. Some three decades later, Gross is still barrel-aging his own beers at Durham, North Carolina’s Bull City Burger and Brewery — just one of the hundreds, or more likely thousands of brewers who have taken up the BA gospel since. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Today on Taplines, we’re joined by none other than Wolfgang Puck for a candid, clear-eyed look at how his Eureka brewpub — “one of the loudest salvos in elevating the role of craft beer in dining,” as Tom Acitelli put it in his 2013 book, the Audacity of Hops — met such a quick and unceremonious demise in early '90s Los Angeles… and what Chef learned from its collapse. Here’s a hint: when the kitchen is clicking but the brewery business ain’t, a brewpub is headed for trouble. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
In the mid-’70s, as the Light Beer Wars were starting to heat up, a family-run brewery in central New York called F.X. Matt — one of the nation’s oldest, and still running to this very day — came up with a wild new packaging format for its beers. It was bold. It was bizarre. It was… balls? That's right. Big, translucent plastic spheres full of 5.16 gallons of Matt’s Premium Lager. Part keg party, part party trick, F.X. Matt’s beer balls were all the rage in the Eighties, and soon drew competition from local rivals and national heavyweights alike. Joining Taplines today to talk about beer balls and so much more is fourth-generation Matt and president of the brewery that bears his family name Fred Matt. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Joining Taplines today is Jacinta Howard, a veteran culture and music writer and editor in Atlanta, to talk about a very specific, very special, and very star-studded "sponsored content" series that hit the airwaves back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, long before "sponsored content" was even a thing. St. Ides malt liquor first arrived on store shelves in 1987, but it wasn’t until the brand’s parent company hired the iconic DJ Pooh to enlist a who’s-who of blue-chip rappers — from Ice Cube to the Wu-Tang Clan — in the production of original mixtapes and music videos about the “Crooked I” that it began to take off. And when it did, sales followed — but so did the controversy that would eventually bring St. Ides’ breakout #sponcon project to an end. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
When Left Hand Brewing opened for business outside of Denver in the early '90s, the plan wasn’t to become known nationwide as “the milk stout brewery” or “the nitro brewery,” and certainly not “the nitro milk stout brewery.” But when it introduced its chocolatey, none-too-heavy milk stout in the Aughts, people loved it, and especially the silky smooth nitro draft pour. Co-founder / CEO Eric Wallace and the Left Hand team started wondering: "Hey, if Guinness is able to package nitro beers, couldn’t we?" Nobody else in America had figured out to do widget-free nitro in the bottle, but that didn't stop them milk stout boys. They succeeded, and forevermore Left Hand would be synonymous with the hard-poured, inky-black, velvety stout. The rest was history—history we discuss with Wallace himself on this week's episode. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Athletic Brewing Company wasn’t the first non-alcoholic beer brand, not by a long shot. But it was the first to successfully cross the flavors and aesthetics of the craft beer segment consistently, and at scale. Its considerable success since first hitting the market in mid-2018 has helped open up horizons for millions of drinkers — and today, co-founders Bill Shufelt and John Walker are here to talk about how it all went down. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Returning to Taplines today for the second installment of our two-part episode about Blue Moon's historic, controversial rise is Keith Villa, the former Coors brewer who created the iconic, top-selling Belgian-style witbier in the mid-'90s. We discuss the brand’s soaring success after its rocky first few years in the Rocky Mountains — and how once Blue Moon found its footing in Coors' portfolio, it started to face criticism from some members of the craft brewing industry, who painted the beer as an interloper to “the movement” that Villa had considered himself a part of. (This is Part 2; make sure to check out Part 1 in your podcast feed if you haven't yet.) Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Blue Moon Rising

Blue Moon Rising

2023-11-2845:59

Joining Taplines today to talk about Blue Moon’s historic, controversial rise, is Keith Villa, the brewer who created the original recipe for the Belgian-style beer at Coors after earning his PhD in brewing from the University of Brussels. From the corporate offices in Golden, Colorado, to the ballpark brewhouse where he perfected the brand’s soon-to-be-smash hit recipe, to the bars nationwide where he tried to get bartenders to actually serve the stuff, Villa says Blue Moon’s success was anything but preordained by its corporate backing — contrary to what its critics argued. Let's talk about it. (This is Part 1 of a two-part episode about Blue Moon; Part 2 will appear directly following this one in the feed one week later.) Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Joining Taplines today is longtime beverage-alcohol journalist, VinePair writer at large, and author of the hotly anticipated forthcoming book "Dusty Booze," Aaron Goldfarb, to discuss Other Half Brewing Company's meteoric rise from humble beginnings to coveted hype brewery. Having found himself a few times in the line that formed outside the brewery on release days, Aaron witnessed firsthand a shift in the Brooklyn brewery's clientele and cachet as New York City’s contemporary masters of the universe — finance bros — became enthralled by the drinkability, variety, and most importantly scarcity of the brewery’s liquid wares. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Not to get all political on here, but historically speaking, Black people have not exactly been welcomed into the halls of power in the American beer industry. There are a dozen well-documented reasons for that, many of which stem less from endemic characteristics of beer or brewing than from the systemic racism baked into this country’s laws and institutions. But to this day, less than 1 percent of the country's ~10,000 breweries are owned by Black people — a sobering state given Black people represent around 13 percent of the overall population in the United States. So the National Black Brewers Association has its work cut out for it. Joining the show today is three-decade beverage-industry veteran Kevin Asato, the NB2A's executive director, to talk about the newly formed trade association's historic debut at the 2023 Craft Brewers Conference, the unique challenges its constituents face, and how the org hopes to tackle them. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
In the early '60s, a fellow named Bob Uihlein took the reins at what was then a brewery second only to the mighty Anheuser-Busch in the American beer business pantheon—the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Schlitz was known nationwide as “the beer that made Milwaukee famous,” and an absolute heavyweight of the day. But under Uihlein’s hackneyed, hamfisted, and otherwise ill-advised direction, both its liquid and its liquidity would be in irrecoverable disarray less than two decades later. Joining the show today for her THIRD Taplines appearance is the brilliant historian and writer Maureen Ogle, author of the vital history Ambitious Brew, to talk about how, exactly, Uihlein & co. erased a century’s worth of Schlitz’s industry-leading, Milwaukee-born brewing legacy in the '60s and '70s. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Idiosyncrasies abound in this country's state-by-state approach to booze regulation, and South Carolina is home to plenty of 'em. Which is why, in 2005, Jaime Tenny — who would go on to open North Charleston’s COAST Brewing Company with her husband, David Merritt — took a cue from craft brewing colleagues in North Carolina and started Pop the Cap SC, a grassroots organization bent on increasing the state's then-limit on beers' alcohol by volume. This is a wonky one, Taplines listener, a tale of scrappy outsiders making noise in the the provincial halls of power in the Deep South, all in the name of bigger, better, beer. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
In 1994, the mighty pre-InBev Anheuser-Busch made a somewhat shocking decision to do a comedic ad for its flagship brand. This was a big deal — up until then, Budweiser’s ads hewed to the heartland with sincere, wholesome, Americana themes and tunes. But when the firm’s longtime hometown ad agency came up with an idea for Bud's 1995 Super Bowl spot that called for animatronic frogs, August Busch III didn’t laugh them out of his office — he gave it the green light. Thus began the production process of one of Adweek’s “most iconic alcohol ads of all time,” built on the strength of three simple syllables: BUD-WEIS-ER. Today on Taplines, we're talking to Tom Woodard, the current creative director of Nashville's On the Avenue who in the mid-'90s found himself voicing Frog #1 in one of the most beloved beer ads of all time. Don't forget to like, review, and subscribe! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
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