Strange Brews Podcast

Living in Southern California means a 27 mile commute can take anywhere from 45minutes to 2 hours, depending on traffic.  Because of that I listen to a lot of podcasts.  I listen to a few of the big ones, Joe Rogan Experience, Smodcast, Hollywood Babble On.  I actually was the first fan to email Hollywood Babble on and send in the first 3 rules to the Hollywood Babble On drinking game.  In the morning I start my day with some NPR news podcasts and the Wall Street Journal This Morning.  The rest of my day is filled with different comedians’ shows.

Over the past few years I’ve been looking for a craft beer podcast to listen to.  Some of the shows are inconsistent and can disappear for months at a time, or are hosted by guys who seem to try too hard and want people to think they know way more about craft beer than they really do.  But last summer I found a craft beer podcast that I now listen to regularly, WBEZ’s Strange Brews.

This podcast is hosted by the trio of Andrew Gill, Alison Cuddy and Tim Akimoff.  They are based out of Chicago, so their is a lot of focus on their local beer scene, but they do cover national beer news and give love to beers and breweries from out of the area.  After listening to them pretty loyally it seems that all three hosts are just beer fans who have a forum to share their opinions and knowledge on beer.  They don’t pretend to be more knowledgeable than anyone else, and their shows that are recorded at breweries or bars really show you how much they enjoy the craft beer movement and community.  This is a podcast that I really do enjoy and look to showing up on my iPhone each week, I am offially fan #7 of the podcast.   I feel that craft beer fans will be entertained by this show and pick up some new knowledge.  I recently reached out to Strange Brews and was able to get Andrew Gill and Alison Cuddy to answer a few questions.    Each week they end the show with some beer recommendations, Andrew and Alison were nice enough to give  recommendations at the end of this pseudo interview, so make sure your read through to the end to see them. How did the Strange Brews podcast come to be? 

Andrew Gill: The seed for Strange Brews was planted when Tim Akimoff came to WBEZ as the new digital content editor. He kicked off a renewed focus on podcasting on WBEZ’s web team. In his newspaper career in Oregon and Montana, he’d covered beer as part of a beat- since Alison and I both had an interest in craft beer, he asked us to co-host a podcast with him. After months of talking about it, we finally started recording audio at Dark Lord Day 2013.

Allison Cuddy: I’d just add that WBEZ is a very creative shop and we have lots of “what if we did…” conversations in the hallways – some of which turn into actual ideas!

What got each of you into craft beer?

AC: I’m interested in craft, DIY and the whole locally made movement more generally. Lately craft beer has been one of the drivers of the locally made scene and that’s renewed my interest– plus the personalities I’ve met along the way.

AG: For me, I got into craft beer through sampling Belgian beers. That was probably around 2005. I also am generally interested in consuming local goods, so I had a natural preference for Goose Island and Two Brothers beers since they were from Chicago.


Has your appreciation/view of craft beer and/or the craft beer community changed since starting the podcast?

AG: Yes, it has definitely changed. I understand a lot more of what goes into making beer now. I approach craft beer as a reporting beat, so I’m always thinking of the business decisions and public policy that go into the beer I’m drinking. I also am always trying to maintain at least some critical distance so I don’t have to take brewers’ at their word on contentious issues.

AC: Yes! I’m really interested in the politics of craft brewers, who are deeply community minded people and generous to a fault – they share ideas, equipment, spaces, hops, whatever with one another all the time. At the same time most are rather independent types – don’t tell me what or how I can brew, you hoser! Plus they’re an interesting way into thinking about the travails of starting a small business – for all the increasing success of craft beer many brewers exist almost batch to batch as they try to get their enterprises off the ground.

When approaching breweries for interviews on the podcast what is the general feedback?

AG: The feedback from breweries varies. Often brewers are thrilled to talk with us and mention that they find our podcast a valuable service unparalleled in the industry. Some are more introverted or skeptical of media. Most seem to be libertarians.

AC: Very positive! We frequently have people reach out and approach us. It’s great.

What is your favorite on location show that you guys have done so far?

AC: The road trip to Wisconsin was fun – major bonding experience AND we met tons of people. But I have a good time pretty much everywhere we go.

AG: The New Glarus show was really special to me. They were one of the first craft breweries I heard about back in 2003. Getting to see their new Wild Fruit Cave was really cool.


Right now what is your favorite Brewery or Beer?

AC:What’s the saying – whatever I’m drinking/wherever I am right now? We share recommendations each week – because it is impossible to name one favorite.

AG: If you listen to the podcast you know that Off Color’s DinoS’mores is my favorite, but that designation changes often.


For anyone visiting Chicago what is a must visit craft beer spot?

AG: The Hop Leaf is an amazing beer bar and pretty good restaurant with a great history and neighborhood around it.

AC: Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar is the perfect two-for-one for beer lovers. You can enter the small, inviting bar in the back to drink and talk awhile –or grab a beer to go from the well-stocked store in the front. Off the beaten path but one of the critical hub in Chicago’s craft beer scene.

Any plans to head to Southern California to do a show from any breweries or beer fests?

AC: Never say never!

AG: No trip is on the books right now, but if our budget is big enough next year we might!


Aside from the podcast what is the best way for fans to keep up with you guys?

AG: Twitter and Untappd are great for following us three hosts and the podcast.

AC: Our tumblr page and on twitter.

You end each episode with recommendations.  Can I get some recommendations to end this post?

AG: I’d recommend trying the Cigar City Humidor series if you can find it. Really interesting beers aged with wood in it to approximate the taste of a cigar.

AC: Mikeller Arh Hvad?! (BA Chardonnay). Love a little wine in my beer – this one is a beautiful mix of fruit and spice, dry and bitter.

Be sure to subscribe to Strange Brews on iTunes and leave them a review.  Follow the hosts on Twitter:

@AndrewGill, @alisoncuddy, @TimAkimoff

Check out their Tumble page:

And follow the show on Untappd: @strangebrews


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