There’s beer at the end of the (double) rainbow! At Ommegang in August, for BCTC.
Another year, another 50 episodes (no Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve broadcasts)! We welcomed brewers from both near and far, craft beer drinkers (of the year, in the case of Warren Monteiro), restaurateurs and publicans. We had a few episodes that generated extended dialogue (contract brewing, minority brewers), and we drank a lot of great beer.
Additionally, we got out a good bit this year, heading to the Craft Brewers Conference in D.C. and the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boston this year, plus undertaking trips to investigate the craft beer scene outside the northeast (including checking out what’s happening in Asheville, NC). Our July Good Beer month expanded to include a new series of Craft Beer Jam episodes at WNYC’s The Greene Space (a series that we hope to repeat, details soon). Plus we reached podcast #150!
And while it’s always hard to pick your favorite amongst the kiddies, we do have a few episodes from last year that we’d be happy to relive. Thus, here are our top 10 favorite episodes of what we believe were the best of Beer Sessions Radio™ 2013 (in chronological order):
Episode 144 (aired 1/15) From Lebanon to Belgium to Long Island
Call me an ignorant American (please, don’t), but this episode of Beer Sessions Radio™ when Jimmy welcomed Mazen Hajjar, the brewer behind Lebanon’s 961 Beer, is one of the most memorable episodes—not just of 2013, but—we’ve aired. Who knew that Lebanon had a rich history in great wine and Heineken? How does one man change a nation’s taste from skunked lagers to great craft ales? This was also the episode where we checked in with Long Island brewers on their recovery almost three months after Hurricane Sandy devastated the region (and Barrier Brewing, in particular). From building to rebuilding, this was a fascinating episode to start off 2013! Listen to the full episode here.
Episode 155 (aired 3/19) – Mead and Mississippi Homebrew
It’s a honey of a show as we celebrate the end of prohibition! That’s right: It’s now legal to homebrew in all 50 states, in large part thanks to the efforts of Craig Hendry of Raise Your Pints, whose five-year mission to legalize homebrewing in Mississippi made this the 49th state in the union to catch up with the Carter administration (Alabama, the 50th, legalized in May). Plus we check in with homebrewers-turned-mead-makers as we examine this delicious but often forgotten fermented beverage (more details here).
Episode 157 (aired 4/2) – Craft Brewer’s Conference & Atlanta Beer
There are times when we really miss the presence of Ray Deter on the show, but on this episode (details here) Jimmy Carbone is back in the co-pilot seat as fellow radio personality and Crusin’ for a Brewsin’ beer journalist Ale Sharpton from Atlanta effusively details his visit to Brooklyn (big shout out to the team at Red Hook’s Sixpoint Craft Ales). Plus, it’s the return of Dave Brodrick of Blind Tiger who adds his Vermont brand of beer knowledge. The fellas are talking about bars in Washington, D.C. at the Craft Brewer’s Conference and what’s happening in beer all across the southeast (including Green Flash’s expansion to Virginia Beach). Full update here.
Episode 158 (aired 4/9) – Cider & Perry with Tom Oliver
We love how the craft beer scene has allowed the growth of “the other wine”—ciders! It’s all about English cider traditions, as we travel to Herefordshire, courtesy of Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Perry & Cider House, and B.R. Royla and Joel Shelton of Shelton Brothers Imports. The topic of the day: English cider and perry!
Episode 167 (aired 6/11) – Beer Hunter, Sierra Nevada, & Italian Craft Beer
Sometimes everything old is new again. We saw a resurgence of interest in Michael Jackson, and we were one of the first in the nation to have a viewing of Beer Hunter, the documentary covering his life as a beer writer. Plus it’s traditional American meets new Italian as we go from the western Rockies to the southern Alps (guest list here).
Episode 172 (aired 7/16) – Old Brew, New Brew
We’re in the throes of July Good Beer Month and checking in with two of the city’s most established bar owners, James Langstine of Bronx Ale House and Chris Genua of The Double Windsor, to talk about the evolution of the NYC craft beer bar and how to address consumer demand for new beers and flavors. And we welcome one of the city’s newest brewers: Grimm Artisanal Ales!
Episodes 177 + 178 (aired 8/20 + 8/27) – Belgium Comes to Cooperstown
We make our annual trek to Ommegang for the “Festival about Nothing.” Nothing but good beer, that is! One of the few episodes we pre-record and our only two-episode arc each year, BCTC is one of the best festivals on the Eastern seaboard and a who’s who of beer connoisseurs. In Part 1, we keep things jovial with Ommegang’s Simon Thorpe and Phil Leinhart as they discuss their popular Game of Thrones beers, plus check-ins with many new and established breweries and brewpubs serving their favorite beers at the festival. In Part 2, we transition to regional issues with the guys from FOAM (aka the Fitchbug Order of Ale Makers) and discuss everything from sustainable hops growing to the watershed and risk to it from fracking. Host Jimmy Carbone talks with Simon Thorpe, Larry Bennett, and the brewers from Peekskill and Ommegang—Jeff O’Neill and Phil Leinhart, respectively—about water quality, hops, grains, and more.
Episode 182 (aired 9/24) – Keegan Ales, Yonkers Brewing, & Prairie Artisan Ales
One of the cool things we did this summer was Hudson Rising, a tour of heritage ships up and down the Hudson River, which allowed us to meet lots of cool new brewers along the watershed. On this episode, we welcome two of these brewing teams: Tommy Keegan and brewer Geoff Wenzel of Keegan Ales; plus John Rubbo, Nick Califano, and Sharif Taleb from Yonkers Brewing.
Episode 186 (aired 10/22) – The Culture of Cider
It’s the return of NYC Cider Week, and we’ve got even more cool guests in the studio to discuss the continuing resurgence of cider, including the macro-ciders now coming on the market to challenge the smaller apple farms in the region. Cider’s come a long way, baby, and you can find out more here.
Episode 193 (aired 12/10) – The British Beer Invasion
One of our final episodes of the year was originally dubbed, “In Defense of English Beer,” but as Wandering Star’s Chris Post notes, “What needs defending?” The British (to include England, as well as Scotland and Wales) beer tradition is different than the American craft beer scene, but guests Post, Alex Hall and Sam Smith V (yes, that Sam Smith) all agree that the subtler version of beer is not an inferior version of beer. The British scene continues to grow, expand and create new beers. Call it everything old is new again (find out more, here).
And join us on January 7th, 2014, for the return of Beer Sessions Radio™ on the Heritage Radio Network! Happy New Year!