Beyond the Pour Podcast Episode 5: Beer Hipsters and Session Beers (Special Guests! Chris Steltz of Beer Geek Nation and Zak Davis of Shmaltz Brewing)

Ryan had to take a last-minute trip to Germany for work, so he couldn’t join me for this podcast episode. I’m sure he’ll tell us all about it next time. In his stead, I asked my friend Chris Steltz of Beer Geek Nation to join me, and he brought a friend, Zak Davis from Shmaltz Brewing. It was a great time, but I’m looking forward to getting Ryan back for the next episode.


RSS link here. Psst! We’re now on iTunes!

Show Notes

0:00 to 1:10 Introductions. I’m joined today by Chris Steltz of Beer Geek Nation and Zak Davis from Shmaltz Brewing. Thanks to both for joining me.

1:10 to 7:00 What we’ve been drinking. Zak is drinking one of Shmaltz’s own beers, a Reunion 2011, produced in conjunction with Terrapin. Chris doesn’t have anything special at all, just a Coronado Idiot IPA. Poser. And I’m drinking a Short’s Prolonged Enjoyment Session IPA in honor of our main topic, Session Beers. Also a momentary mention of the Occupy movement, Bell’s Oberon, and a peek at some beers Chris may be reviewing on his Youtube channel shortly.

7:00 to 14:25 The incredibly confusing nature of Shmaltz Brewing. Chris and I give recommendations of Shmaltz beers to try.

14:25 to 32:22 “Beer Hipsters.” Vimeo user John Smith has created a series of videos about the newest wave of the so-called beer geeks. We’ve all seen the videos and discuss the phenomenon. I start out a bit snarky towards the newbies, but Chris sets me straight by telling me I’m just as bad as the worst of the beer hipsters, and Zak helps put the whole thing in perspective. Always great to get feedback when I’m being a dick.

32:22 to 43:14 Our feature topic: session beers. Lew Bryson is trying to set up this upcoming April 7 as “Session Beer Day.” What is a session beer, and do they have a real future in the American market. This could be a subject we cover for four hours by itself, so by necessity our conversation doesn’t cover everything, but I think we hit the high points of this topic.

43:14 to 44:57 Wrapping up, where to find our stuff on the Internet. Thanks to the guys for joining me on the podcast! Remember that you can email the podcast at if you have questions, comments, concerns, or ideas for future episodes!


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About danieleharper

Chemist, rationalist, skeptic, feminist, and deeply humanist. Podcasts about Doctor Who and social justice at

7 responses to “Beyond the Pour Podcast Episode 5: Beer Hipsters and Session Beers (Special Guests! Chris Steltz of Beer Geek Nation and Zak Davis of Shmaltz Brewing)”

  1. Lee Russell says :

    Good episode, guys. I personally think cultural differences also have a small part to play in the lack of session beers on this side of the pond. We really don’t have the pub culture here that’s in England, and it’s even died quite a bit over there. But at its peak you went to your “local”, you had “real ale”, that was generally always a lower alcohol, yet flavourful brew,and you knew and talked with everyone in the local area. A real “Coronation Street” type of deal. Nightly small community events like that are dying out is some respects.

  2. Chris says :

    Perhaps the guy who made the “Beer Geek” videos is a fairly irritated industry veteran?

  3. John Smith says :

    So this is where I come in and tell you exactly why I made these “Today’s Beer Geek” videos. For one, because it’s funny. And two, to really give these “internet beer geek” types a reality check.

    Do you remember the days before BeerAdvocate and RateBeer? Remember going beer shopping? You would buy something because it looked and/or sounded good. You explored. You had mostly no clue what was in the bottle until you tried it. You purchased everything your local bottleshop(s) had to offer because there were no biased beer-consumer rating websites and smartphones to access those websites at retail to influence your purchasing decisions (which, these ratings progressively become more biased due to the fact that newer ratings are influenced by previous high ratings, and these guys consume these beers under the pre-conceived notion that it MUST be good and that they should give it a good rating).

    What ever happened to purchasing a beer SOLELY for enjoyment? These “beer geeks” can’t enjoy a single beer without a.) posting a picture of it to Facebook, b.) logging that beer in on Untappd, c.) rating that beer on BeerAdvocate, and d.) copying and pasting their BeerAdvocate rating onto Ratebeer. I’ll tell you what, nothing beats leisurely enjoying a good beer in your backyard on a beautiful day. What happened to that? I wouldn’t doubt if most of their beer drinking takes place at their desk all alone in front of their computer or something. I feel these “beer geek” types have completely lost themselves and have strayed too far from what enjoying a beer is all about. Who cares how many IBU it is, who cares how high the ABV is. How does it taste? Like it?

    I am going to vaguely break down for you each video I made and why I made them:

    This is just a general outline of the process this “new wave of beer geek” takes to get into craft beer. He is on a lazy quest to become a beer expert; he has no intention of learning how to brew at home, and he has no intention of genuinely educating himself on what beer actually is and/or what certain brewing practices and techniques contribute to beer. I like to equate it to following major league baseball, but without actually ever playing catch or even having the intent to throw a ball around. My advice to consumers looking to dive in to craft beer … “stay off the internet.” Taste is completely subjective and you will find, on your own, what you like, and also what you don’t like. Also, the Cicerone exam is stupid, pointless, a false accreditation, and nothing but a GENIUS business venture. If the Cicerone program was created solely to promote and grow beer education, it would be an NPO, and fees would be limited to only covering administrative costs. However, I am all about capitalism, and so I commend Ray Daniels.

    Self-explanatory. We’ve all seen this happen at retail one too many times. It cracks us up, but at the same time I think I can safely say “that guy” irritates the hell out of us. Why discriminate and disregard all of the other fantastic liquids other brewers produce just because it’s not Pliny? Try something new instead if no Pliny is available.

    If it’s not hoppy and boasting a high ABV, “beer geeks” don’t want it. Often times at these festivals, these guys will immediately dive into consuming IPAs. And here’s something that shows just how uneducated these guys are … they do not realize just how much of a palate killer IPAs really are, and that’s basic knowledge. After one or two, everything tastes the same (which is another reason why “IPA fests” can be pretty pointless to attend). I was at a brewfest recently in which Russian River was attending (it was actually a distributor pouring that day), and the first five guys in line to get in kept talking about “Pliny Pliny Pliny …”; and immediately when they opened the gates to the festival, they bolted, at full speed, to the Russian River booth to get a taste of Pliny. If there were any other beers there that could have potentially struck a chord with each of them individually, they would have missed out because they had began their day consuming palate-killing imperial IPA.

    He actually doesn’t learn how to homebrew because he spends all of his money (which could go toward brewing equipment and ingredients) buying expensive “top list” beers and spends all of his time (which could be spent on a good ol’ fashioned brew day and BBQ with friends) blogging and rating them online. A high count of beer ratings on your BeerAdvocate and RateBeer profiles does not make you cool, it is meaningless. Sunglasses, however, make you cool.

    Self-explanatory; it’s just beer.

    The videos I made were created with no intention of malice or hate. They were simply created to poke fun and, to an extent, deliver a bit of a reality check to these guys straying from what beer is intended for. It is merely a consumer product intended to promote social activity, fun, and flat-out enjoyment. It is never to be taken too seriously. I became a little curious recently and ended up doing a little digging (which is also how I came across your podcast) to find some consumer feedback on these videos in some favorite consumer beer-centric sites, and WOW … these people really dissected these videos and some even took great offense. Often times I wanted to chime in and say “alright guys come on now, they were just created for fun. Simple as that. If you can’t laugh at yourself, then you should probably try and lighten up a bit. It’s only beer.”

    Each video I made took weeks of producing written scripts, storyboards, editing, etc. I put my blood, sweat, and tears into those videos, and I hope you enjoyed them. I use the name “John Smith” because knowledge of who created these videos could be damaging to my professional career.

    Cheers, guys.

    • danieleharper says :

      Would you be willing to come on the podcast and discuss it? I would respond more substantively but I’m at work on my phone.

      • John Smith says :

        Sorry, but I will have to respectfully decline. I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have on here through text.

      • John Smith says :

        Might I also add in regards to the first video; I feel that the portrayed process taken to “get into beer” in this video can be damaging to an enthusiastic craft consumer the perception of the beer industry/community.

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