It Starts with Beer pic 2_edited

My podcast, It Starts With Beer, allows me to go behind beer to focus on the personalities and tangents that spring from it. Listen below or click on a logo to listen and follow. 5-star ratings are appreciated! Got comments? Email me at

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Ep 38: Beer quality expert Mary Pellettieri

Photo courtesy of Brewers Publications

What do breweries need to do to ensure quality? My guest Mary Pellettieri in ep 38 of It Starts With Beer knows. Join special cohost Chris Sayer of Brewery Legitimus and I for an informative conversation that covers quality management, advice for small breweries, and gems of wisdom from Mary, who has taught at the Siebel Institute, worked with Goose Island, Miller, and many other breweries, and written extensively on many beer quality topics. 

Background music: “Lofi Hiphop Mix 2020” and “Piano Bar: Smooth Jazz Club at Midnight Buddha Café

Ep 37: Athletic Brewing’s John Walker

How do you feel about non-alcoholic beer? Why do folks drink it and why is becoming more popular? In ep 37, we meet John Walker, the head brewer at Athletic Brewing Company of Stratford, Connecticut. He explains why his beer tastes unlike any other n/a beer on the market and talks about his journey from New England restaurant kid to Western U.S. blacksmith to seeing his beer being distributed all over the country. 

This episode is sponsored by Brass Works Brewing in Waterbury, Connecticut.

Background Music: “Lullaby” by Joakim Karud, “Joan’s Red Dress” by David Luong

Ep 36: Artist Kat Manning

Can labels designed by Kat Manning, photo courtesy of Kat Manning

In episode 36, we meet Kat Manning, the marketing director for the Connecticut Brewers Guild, a photographer with her own Hello Studio, and a label designer for Connecticut breweries. 

We talk about what makes for effective marketing for breweries online and on cans, how she brings her design aesthetic to breweries like Armada Brewing, Marlowe Ales, and Alvarium Beer.

This episode is sponsored by Nod Hill Brewery in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Copyright free background music: “Rock Angel” by Joakim Karud, “Not Too Cray” by Huma-Huma, and “The Lounge” by

Ep 35: The Craft Crew

We meet the Craft Crew: James, Jamel, and Antron, who are determined to “widen the demographic” and introduce beer to Black and Latinx drinkers in Connecticut while supporting minority-owned businesses and organizations. They brew, they throw mixers, they make review videos, and they are a lot of fun to hang out with. 

Episode 35 is sponsored by Nod Hill Brewery of Ridgefield, Connecticut and Brass Works Brewing of Waterbury, Connecticut

Mentioned: Blue Moon, Knee Deep Brewing, Samuel Adams, Tree House, NE Video, Unknown Clothing (New Britain), Fishy Tails, My Wife Didn’t Cook, Hog River Brewing, Hanging Hills Brewing, Jamal Robinson, Beer Kulture, New England Brewing Company, 16 Ounce Canvas podcast, The Hops Company, “This Ain’t the Beer That You’re Used To” by Dom “Doochie” Cook, The Sampler in Brooklyn, Rhythm Brewing, Lady Lager, Urban League of Greater Hartford, and more.

Music: “The Craft Crew Show” theme song by Born(IE), produced by GovMag.

Ep 34: Allan Heida, host of I Know Nothing About Beer

Allan Heida is a busy guy, what with his I Know Nothing About Beer podcast and Dad Domesticus, a look at the Stay At Home Dad (SAHD) life on YouTube.  

We talk about beer in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, how best to take a kid to a brewery, and why he’s still hopeful. We enter Ye Olde English Pub, a new virtual reality space I created, which has lots of music.

This episode is sponsored by Nod Hill Brewery of Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Ep 33: Beer Talk Now Podcast’s Daryl Neal

Daryl Neal is the insightful host of Beer Talk Now who knows his Bay Area beer. In episode 33, I talk to D. Neal about the beer scene in and around the ‘Sco, why pilsners are great, the myth of racial harmony in Northern California and more. Join us in my virtual creation — The Bay Area Pub — then stay for the Afterparty. 

This episode is sponsored by Back East Brewing in Bloomfield, Connecticut. 

Discussed in the ep: East Brother Beer, Counterweight Brewing Company, Oakland United Beer Works, E-40, and more! 

Ep 32: Package Store life with Bottle Stop’s Girish and Kevin

In this episode we get to hear about life behind the counter at the liquor store, or as we in New England call them, package stores. Girish Patel and Kevin Thomas of Bottle Stop in Torrington, Conn., are our guides. My on-site interview includes a tasting of Alvarium Beer Company and Firefly Hollow Brewing beer. Don’t forget to hang out at the Afterparty following the on-site interview. 

This episode is sponsored by Back East Brewing of Bloomfield, Connecticut.

Intro music: “Heat It Up” by Willy Georgia. Background music: “Good for Nothing”  by Otis McDonald, “Wet Martini”.

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Ep 31: Pilsner with author Tom Acitelli

Tom Acitelli has a lot of experience in writing about alcohol, and when it comes to writing about beer, he’s one of the best. His recent book, “Pilsner,” is an informative, entertaining look at how this style of beer interacted with history. Enjoy my interview with Tom and then stick around for the Afterparty.

Episode sponsored by Back East Brewing.

Intro music: “Heat It Up” by Will & the George

Background music: “German Music and German Folk Music,”  “Manhattan Sky”

Ep 30: Farm Brewing with Barry Labendz of Kent Falls

Interested in farm breweries and farmhouse ale? Enjoy my talk with Barry Labendz, co-founder of Kent Falls Brewing in Kent, Connecticut, which in 2015 opened as the first modern farm brewery in the state.

Barry and his team started out with a farmhouse beer focus, and Barry and I talk about just what that means. We talk about his dedication to local ingredients, from the hops that come from their own farm and nearby Smokedown Farm (subject of ISWB Ep 29), to the grain that comes from local maltsters. 

We got to talking about the books that have inspired his appreciation of the food cycle. When you’re done listening, get reading:

This episode was sponsored by Back East Brewing in Bloomfield, Conn. 

Intro music: “Heat It Up” by The Will-George Experience

Background music: “Picking Banjo,” “Action People #9,” and “Action People #7”

Ep 29: Hops! With Ally Hughes and James Shepherd of Smokedown Farms

It’s almost hop harvesting time, so learn about hop growing from those who get their hands dirty in this episode, featuring Dr. James Shepherd, owner of Smokedown Farm in Sharon, Connecticut, and farm manager Ally Hughes. Shepherd — an epidemiologist on the front lines of dealing with COVID-19 —  provides some unexpected insight into the connection between virus control and hops, and Hughes discusses how their hops make local beers extra special.

This episode is sponsored by Back East Brewing in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

Opening/closing music: “Heat It Up” by Will and George

Background music: “Eternal Flame” by Lahar

Ep 28: Phantom Brewing’s Jon Patrei

Phantom Brewing in Hartford, Connecticut, opened in April of this tumultuous year. My guest Jon Patrei and his business partner Bo Kolcio previously ran Beer & Wine Makers Warehouse, and continue to run a similar enterprise in their brewery. Jon and I talk about his background in beer and how opening during a pandemic works when you are prepared and make wise decisions. 

Information on the Phantom Ship in the intro comes from “The Ghost Ship of New Haven Sets Sail Shrouded in Mystery” by Michael Hoberman, from Background music: “Chill Lo-fi Hip-Hop Mix [No Copyright].

This episode was sponsored by Back East Brewing and Witchdoctor Brewing.

Ep 27: Author/historian Gregg Smith

In this special history episode, author/historian Gregg Smith discusses topics including taverns during the colonial era, his favorite early brewery stories, the history of beer advertising, the hard life of a brewer in the early 20th century, historical methods, Prohibition, the role of women in beer history, and more. Warning: You will learn something! His books are available on Amazon and

This episode is sponsored by Back East Brewing, Brewery Legitimus, and Little Red Barn Brewers. [Aired 7/25/2020]

Ep 26: The hosts of 512 Brewed podcast

In their 512 Brewed podcast, Melanie Demi and Caitlin Johnson entertain and inform. Based in Austin, Texas, these media-savvy beer lovers bring a fun, well-researched approach to beer styles, beer tasting, and a bunch of other beer-adjacent topics. In this episode we step into my shoddily created hologram world, the latest virtual pub that I’ve called “The Great Outdoors.” We talk podcasting, Austin beer, and get served by a lion. In other words, we keep it weird.

In invite you to listen to 512 Brewed, and check out the hosts’ blogs: Melanie’s Three Dogs One Bar and Caitlin’s Big World, Small Girl. [Aired 7/20/2020]

Ep 25: Jamal Robinson of New England Brewing

jammy squared

When Jamal Robinson, director of sales at New England Brewing of Woodbridge, Conn., put up some simple videos in his greenhouse in June, he was doing more than letting off some steam about race relations in America. He was setting down some wisdom that I couldn’t get out of my head. In this episode, Jamal talks about his career in beer, how he’s dealt with racism, and what a brewery can do to affect change.

To watch Jamal’s videos, check them out on his YouTube channel linked here. You can follow him on Instagram at @nebcojammy. [Aired 7/7/2020]

Ep 24: Beer writer Jay C. Williams

Jay C. WIlliams headshot

Writer Jay C. Williams is Connecticut-based with a background in copywriting. His love of beer has propelled him into freelance opportunities, including writing for Wine Enthusiast, Cuisine Noir, October, and other publications. Listen in as we talk writing for multiple audiences, the expanding “beer scene,” and Williams’ straight-edge punk past.

Here are some links to Jay’s work: OctoberCuisine NoirWine Enthusiast.

Background music from Saiki Beats and Relax Music Meditation. [Aired 6/22/2020]

Ep 23: Rhythm Brewing’s Alisa Bowens-Mercado

Alisa hedshot

Alisa Bowens-Mercado is used to stepping into unfamiliar territory with confidence and a twist. The owner of Rhythm Brewing — which is based in New Haven, Conn., but has its lagers brewed at Black Hog Brewing in Oxford, Conn. — is also the owner of a Latin dance studio. As an African-American woman in a largely white, male beer industry Alisa has decided to focus on quality first, to go along with inclusion.

Enjoy our conversation from June 11, in which Alisa (aka Lady Lager) describes her passion for beer and shares thoughts about race in America and how beer can bring people together.

Music featured: “Fantasy” by 3D Rhythm of Life

Learn more about Rhythm Brewing at [Aired 6/17/2020]

Ep 22: Back East Brewing’s Tony Karlowicz

Tony Karlowicz Back East hedshot

I’ve been a fan of Back East Brewing in Bloomfield, Connecticut, ever since they opened back in 2012, which in Connecticut craft beer years might as well have been the Middle Ages. I’m what’s known as a superfan of Back East Porter, so you can understand how happy I was to have Tony Karlowicz on as a guest. Tony is the co-owner of Back East Brewing and we talked about how his brewery is weathering COVID and looking to the future, plus we play The Lightning Round. [Aired 6/12/2020]

Ep 21: Mr. & Mrs. Irish Beer Snob

Irish Beer Snob

What a fun episode of “It Starts With Beer”! Not only do I get to speak to my first international guests, Wayne and Janice Dunne of the Irish Beer Snob podcast all the way from Ireland, but I get to take them to a virtual world of my own design: Pub Americana. From our hologram-realistic barstools, we talk about the state of Irish beer and get to know this lovely couple. Strap on your VR helmets because it’s going to be a pixelated ride! Then listen to Wayne and Janice themselves at their Irish Beer Snob podcast. [Aired 5/21/2020]

Ep 20: The fellas from Brewheads

Brewheads 1

Brando, Clinton, and Big Mike make up the trio known as Brewheads. They drink, they review beer, they hang around, and have fun on their YouTube channel. I had a chance to Zoom with them for a while and find out what makes for an entertaining beer review. We learned a lot about each other and came out of this one changed for the better.

Background music by Saiki Beats. [Aired 5/12/2020]

Ep 19: Author Clare Goggin Sivits

Clare Goggin Sivits hedshot

Enjoy my interview with Clare Goggin Sivits (@beergoggins), the author of an April piece in the website October called “The Beer World Wasn’t Built for Moms.” News music background by AudioTrend. [Aired 5/5/2020]

Ep 18: Mass Brew Bros.

Bob Kelley (left) and Rob Vandenabeele Mass Brew Bros

What’s happening with Massachusetts breweries? No one knows better than Rob and Bob of Mass Brew Bros, and in this interview we talk about their recent post on about the future of Mass breweries post-pandemic. [Aired 5/1/2020]

Ep 17: Witchdoctor Brewing’s Josh Norris

josh norris Witchdoctor

Let’s talk music and beer and the simple life in Ohio with Josh Norris of Witchdoctor Brewing in Southington, Conn. But it all starts with beer… in the news. [Aired 4/27/2020]

Ep 16: Beer Writer Carla Jean Lauter

Carla Lauter

My interview with Maine beer writer Carla Jean Lauter was a treat. She’s been active and effective at informing people about Maine beer, currently as the “Tap Lines” columnist for the Portland Press Herald. As @beerbabe she promotes diversity in beer. We had a chance to talk about her writing evolution and the current state of Maine beer. [Aired 4/20/2020]

Ep 15: Connecticut Magazine’s Erik Ofgang

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Erik Ofgang is not only a nice guy, he’s a talented writer. This episode starts with beer and beer writing and veers towards Ofgang’s other passions: music and magic. Music for this episode is provided by Mactalla Mor. Photo: Elena Wolfe Photography [Aired 4/17/2020\

Ep 14: Brewery Consultant Daniel Flynn

DRF1 (1)

Breweries, like nearly all segments of the economy, have some worries about what the new landscape will look like in the era of COVID-19. Daniel Flynn of DRF Consulting in Cheshire, Conn., works with breweries all the time on their accounting needs. I spoke with him about the big financial picture. [Aired 4/14/2020]

Ep 13: CT Brewers Guild’s Phil Pappas

Phil Pappas

My interview with Phil Pappas of the Connecticut Brewers Guild reveals what the nonprofit advocacy group has been doing behind the scenes to help local breweries, particularly in regards to laws and loans. There’s some money talk in this one, so get your finance hat on. [Aired 4/9/2020]

Ep 12: Little Red Barn’s Community Support

Nils Johnson - register citizen

My discussion with Nils Johnson of Little Red Barn Brewers of Winsted, Conn., focuses on how the brewery is staying staying positive with the support of its community. Despite having to cut staff, the owners are hoping to bring them back when the COVID-19 crisis is over, and is collecting money for them along the way. Music by The Dead Dawgs featured in this episode. Cover photo courtesy of the Register-Citizen newspaper. [Aired 4/3/2020]

Ep 11: Veracious Brewing vs. coronavirus

veracious mark and tess

My interview with Mark and Tess Szamatulski of Veracious Brewing Company and Maltose Express homebrew store, both in Monroe, Conn., focuses on how our current crisis is putting in peril a way of life: the face-to-face interaction in a quiet, publike atmosphere. This husband and wife team are optimistic nonetheless. [Aired 4/1/2020]

Ep 10: Labyrinth Brewing vs. coronavirus

Adam Delaura
Jessica Prout Photography

Listen in as I speak with Adam Delaura of Labyrinth Brewing of Manchester, Conn., on March 30, 2020, and learn how the new brewery is dealing with unforeseen circumstances. [Aired 3/30/2020]

Ep 9: Alvarium Beer vs. coronavirus

Alvarium Chris

Listen in as Chris Degasero, head brewer at Alvarium Beer Company of New Britain, Connecticut, discusses his brewery’s attention to detail and customer service, ramping up to-go beers and trying to hold onto staff during the coronavirus slowdown. [Aired 3/27/2020]

Ep 8: Brass Works Brewing vs. coronavirus

Brass Works Brewing

My interview with Kyle Ondrush of Brass Works Brewing of Waterbury, Conn., on how a four-man team took a collective approach to getting beer out to their customers during this time of crisis. [Aired 3/26/2020]

Ep 7: Brewery Legitimus vs. coronavirus

Chris and Christina

My interview with Christina and Chris Sayer of Brewery Legitimus in New Hartford, Conn., and how they are dealing with the coronavirus’ impact on their business. [Aired 3/24/2020\

Ep 6: Coronavirus and beer


Some commentary on what impact the coronavirus could have for local breweries, and the joy of drinking alone. [Aired 3/18/2020]

Ep 5: Continuum Distillers

Ep. 5: Continuum Distillery

My interview with Brandon Collins, head of Continuum Distillers in Waterbury, Conn. He uses run-off from breweries and turns it into unique spirits. [Aired 2/10/2020]

Ep 4: Beer Dinner Review

In this episode, I talk about how a recent beer dinner turned out, with a breakdown of each course pairing. Music: “Mid Summer” by Broke in Summer. Photo from [Aired 1/15/2020]

Ep 3: Pairing Beer, Pairing Life

As I prepare for a beer-pairing dinner, I muse about pairing in general. With references to Julia Herz and Gwen Conley. [Aired 1/6/2020]

Ep 2: Greek Beer and Terroir

It starts with Greek beer, rambles into Brooklyn, and lands on what the terroir of Connecticut might be. [Aired 1/5/2020]

Ep 1: Beer Recommendations

Ep 1: Beer recommendations

Here’s my inaugural episode of “It Starts With Beer,” a show about beer commentary and what flows from that. Enjoy! [Aired 1/5/2020]