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December 2015 • January 2016

Ale Street News

Page 13








Craft beer content is no stranger to the Internet. On the

consumer side, beer blogs, ratings and reviews are created

in a continuous stream. Beer makers, breweries and brands

are offering increasingly sophisticated websites and social

media profiles to engage current and future customers. As

the rising tide of craft beer continues to flow, lapping at the

ankles of mainstream media, it has brought forth a new me-

dium from which to send its message: the beer web series.

Beer web series, or web-based beer shows, can be loosely

described as scripted or episodic videos released in a se-

quence online. Existing as a set of related episodes (or “web-

isodes”), web series can be distributed through the websites

of their producers (e.g., an online publication or network),

an established streaming service (like Netflix or Hulu), or

a free video streaming service, like YouTube. Along with

being cheaper, faster and easier to produce than traditional

television shows, web series can be watched anywhere, any-


An ability to retain creative control is a common uni-

fier among beer web series creators. The recently launched

series, That’s Odd, Let’s Drink It, starring Dogfish Head

Craft Brewery Founder and President, Sam Calagione, was

created with a dual purpose: to bring craft beer making to a

more mainstream audience; and to give Calagione a chance

at a series that wouldn’t be threatened by network politics.

His previous series on the Discovery Channel, Brew Mas-

ters, was pulled from the air in December 2010, less than

a month after it began, allegedly due to pressure from ad-


“What we learned with massive networks is that the

relationship between a big network and their big brewery

advertisers is pretty important to both sides of that rela-

tionship,” said Calagione. “This was our way, kind of grass-

roots, to circumvent those challenges.”

Produced in partnership between Dogfish Head and

Complex Media, and presented by Complex-owned food

and culture blog, ,

”That’s Odd, Let’s

Drink It” targets a select range of viewers, casting a net that

even television may not be able to reach: Calagione traverses

industries from sports to fashion, with celebrity guests in-

cluding NBA All-star, Chris Bosh (an avid homebrewer);

DJ and producer, Z-Trip (whose brother, Matt Sciacca a

writer for

Ale Street News

, introduced him to the craft, and

participated in one of ASN’s European beer tours)); and

actors Ken Marino and Joe Lo Truglio (personal friends of

Calagione’s). The common thread, of course, is an interest

in craft beer.

“Doing a beer series online with a group like Complex

has a great reach,” said Calagione. “It’s still not comparable

to the audience a channel like Discovery or the History

Channel would have, but the difference is, we’re in control

of our own destiny.”

Many online content creators mirror Calagione’s senti-

ment, viewing television networks as powerful, but risky.

“The problem with TV is, they basically own you and can

cancel you at any time,” said Mike Mann, co-founder,

creative director and producer of The Beer Diaries on the-

. Co-founded by Greg Zeschuk, who also co-

founded major video game developer, BioWare in 1995, the

show creators started their series online because it enabled

“more of that direct contact with our viewers, without hav-

ing to worry about the powers that be.”

Since launching the original series in 2013, the duo

additionally released two spin-offs, The Beer Diaries Talks

Beer, and Pubs, Pints and Pals. Additionally, Mann said, a

12-episode travel show he hosts and directs, Beer Diaries

World Tour, will be launching in December.

Other online beer series making waves include Craft-

werk, recently released through Vice Media’s food division,

Munchies (incidentally, Calagione appears in an episode);

Beer Artisan, produced by the Foodable Web TV Network


), hosted by beer blogger and Taplister

founder, Kerry Finsand; and stretching the genre even fur-

ther, L.A. Beer, the first-ever sitcom-style web series filmed

in front of a live audience



Also worth noting, though not quite a series, are the

more than 300 videos produced by the Happy Hour Guys,

who happened to recently film an episode with

Ale Street


at NYC’s Ginger Man pub earlier this year.

Yet, while web-based beer shows enjoy their freedom

and access to new audiences, beer web series face a distinct

challenge: appealing to the educated beer consumer, as well

as the entry-level one. Beginner-level content can be dis-

tracting to the savvy enthusiast or expert. “Our motto is

‘celebrating and promoting craft beer around the world,’”

said Mann. “We wanted to educate and entertain the be-

ginners in craft beer, all the way up to the brewers. There’s

something in the show for everybody.”

As for the fate of That’s Odd, Let’s Drink It: “We al-

ready have advertisers interested that will help us move the

second year forward,” Calagione said. “The difference is, no

major brewery can be an advertiser in this show.”


The Rise of the Beer Web Series

Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione tooling around LA with NBA

All-star Chris Bosch in their beer limo, filming for his new web

series, That’s Odd, Let’s Drink It.