When I started my podcast, It Starts With Beer, I figured I’d be doing a lot of solo commentary, and get lucky if I could convince someone to sit in with me for an interview. As it’s turned out, the vast majority of my episodes are interview-based, and I plan to keep it that way. But I had this idea recently to simply do a “book review” of Beer In America (1998, Brewers Publications) by Gregg Smith. I was nearly done with it, and it sounded like the sort of audio piece I could get creative with.
But then I heard that voice I’d been hearing since high school: why not go to the source? I remember the thrill when I was probably a sophomore and calling up a local newspaper to talk to the writer an article that we were reading in class. He was kind of confused, but then got really into explaining what he meant about… whatever it was. My teacher was proud of me and every single one of the other students thought I was a dork for doing that, and then thinking it was worth discussing in class.
So , I got the idea: why not go to the source and interview Gregg Smith himself? It was actually quite easily done, and he gave me some homework to do before our interview. He’s written a much more recent, independently published book American Beer History (2019). So I downloaded that one and it was amazing. So thorough!
About two weeks later, I called his Idaho home and we had a great conversation. He was incredibly prepared, and I had so little editing to do. You could tell that he loves and is passionate about beer history, and not just the big breweries either. He paints a picture of what life is like for the drinkers and brewers of beer throughout U.S. history. You can hear my interview in episode 27.