For years, most of the coverage of the industry has largely been through the business media, most of whom are interested in either craft’s growing share of the market or individual breweries’ willingness to sell to bigger strategics.
That hasn’t abated: in fact, last Friday, both both CNBC and CBS News invited Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione onto their sets and asked him to discuss the “thriving but challenged” craft beer industry. (A former actor, Calagione, it should be noted, had a short-lived TV series of his own called Brew Masters.) That same day, Fox Business interviewed Ninkasi’s Nikos Ridge and Jaime Floyd about the increasingly competitive craft environment.
But a frothier form of television craft coverage is on the way. To find it, look no further than David Page, the guy who made a hit show out of the “greasy spoon” with his Food Network series Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Looking to repeat and capitalize on the growth of craft— something his own company’s sales presentation calls a “hot millennial trend,” — Page has launched a new show. Called Beer Geeks, it has already secured syndication in 54 U.S. markets.
The Beer Geeks script is familiar. An energetic host — in this case Michael Ferguson, the director of brewing operations and beer training for BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse — takes viewers behind the scenes at some of the country’s top craft breweries. Already, 22 episodes have been filmed at places like Boston Beer, New Belgium, and Stone Brewing. Episodes are slated to begin airing this fall.
There’s also Martin Dickie and James Watt, co-founders of the Scottish craft beer company BrewDog, who have partnered with the Esquire Network — the magazine’s cable TV spinoff — for another craft beer show. Like Beer Geeks, Brew Dogs (the show’s working title) will travel across America with a mission of proving that the country’s most consumed alcoholic beverage doesn’t need to taste “mass-produced.”
There could be more on the way: at least two planned projects — American Beer Blogger and Breweries, Bars and Beer Food — have shot pilot episodes. although producers have yet to convince the networks to give them a chance. On the other hand, The Next Great American Brewer, a Hell’s Kitchen-like reality series that even featured Boston Beer’s Jim Koch in teaser videos, hasn’t posted anything to its Facebook account since last September. Representatives from the show’s production company could not immediately be reached for comment.
Chris Spradley, the producer and host of Breweries, Bars and Beer Food, said he thinks there is room for multiple shows about craft beer.
“I think it’s just going to take the right network, that sees the opportunity and a host that knows and understands craft beer,” said Spradley. “This fall is going to say a lot about the viewership and the devotion of craft beer lovers.”
Julia Herz, the craft beer program director for the Brewers Association think the timing couldn’t be better for more beer-focused programming.
“There is a counter-culture movement going on and craft brewers are shifting an entire industry,” she said. “You have 95 million beer lovers out there and mainstream media is getting hip to the fact that a majority of their readers and viewers drink beer.”