Craft Beer’s Place on Network Television

By Julia Herz

Since the advent of reality television, it has become apparent to me that America loves to watch shows about the insane and unique lives people lead—shock value is certainly having its heyday. What started as Survivor and The Amazing Race has splintered off into Hoarders, My Strange Addiction and Keeping Up with the Kardashians—don’t get me started. But will craft beer be next? We were closer than ever with Brewmasters, but unfortunately we were only lucky enough to get one season.

Come on network television! Take the righteous route on behalf of today’s U.S. craft brewers and give us a show that’s true to the magic, miracle, passion and innovation behind our growing and advancing craft beer culture. 

Craft Beer’s Cultural Shift

As beer lovers, most of what we watch on TV about beer is because of advertising dollars from the large producers, yet there’s so much more beyond that to leverage and share. And if we do start to see more beer-related TV shows, please, please focus on American-produced brands rather than imports that have to travel thousands of miles just to quench our parched palates.

Sure two years ago the beer community had the indulgence of the one and only season of “Brewmasters” featuring Sam Calagione and Dogfish Head Brewery out of Milton Deleware, but unfortunately the show did not get renewed and likely only the networks can answer why.

I’ve said this before, and it seems appropriate to share here: we’re in the middle of a cultural shift in how Americans view beer and the styles and quality of craft beer the rest of the world expects from the U.S. Today, craft beer produced by small and independent brewers is part of a $95.5 billion dollar industry with a market share of 5+ percent by volume and 7+ percent by dollars.

According to Lester Jones of The Beer Institute, of the 95 million beer lovers, one in 10 has dabbled in craft. What we’ve got here is an incredible small business success story that includes 1,900+ craft breweries with 900+ breweries in the planning stages.These are crazy numbers for one of, if not the most, highly regulated and taxed industry in our country. Do ya feel me?

OK TV networks—and I say this with love—as a beer lover, I want a show that authentically shares the story of today’s small U.S. producers, their sense of fun, adventure, hard work, innovation, risk, sacrifice, small business prowess and mojo that has literally changed an industry responsible for 1.5 percent of our gross domestic product. Bam!

Projects In the Works

Now that I’ve stated my case Mr. and Mrs. TV executive, you’ve got several choices of current projects that are all chomping at the bit for pick up or extension:

Searching For Pick Up

Beer America

An eight-part series featuring six breweries in six different regions of the U.S. all working to create the next beer that might win big at the Great American Beer Festival in 2012.

The Next Great American Brewer

Amateur and professional craft brewers will compete against each other in challenges related to brewing beer and running a successful brewing company. The winner of the competition will have their beer brewed, bottled and distributed to beer drinkers across the country.


Well there is “Moonshiners,” which unfortunately I feel only glorifies the illegal practice of making unlicensed liquor. But what about homebrewing? There are an estimated 1 million homebrewers legally brewing beer in the U.S. alone. Come on Discovery Channel, there’s an audience begging for representation. Get out there and create a show!

Shopping For Extension

American Beer Blogger with Lew Bryson

As explained in Lew Bryson’s blog: This half-hour television series is dedicated to all facets of the ever-growing craft beer market. From homebrewing to micro beer; viewers will experience the very best of the craft beer culture. Lew shared with me they have some commitments from a few local PBS stations, and want this series to grow further.

Eat This, Drink That
Hallie Beaune and Christina Perozzi, also known as “The Beer Chicks,” are beer sommeliers and authors of The Naked Pint. In this one-hour Cooking Channel special, they travel the country in search of new food and drink pairings.

The Moment

The casting agent who emailed the Brewers Association (publishers of wanted to share the following: Have you or someone you know always dreamed of becoming a brewmaster? Do you have the training to do so but have been unable to follow your dreams? Nominate yourself or your loved one for the opportunity of a lifetime by going to and clicking “The Moment”  to apply for our show! The USA Network plans to air this sometime in 2013.

Julia Herz is the Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association, co-author of the free Beer & Food Course, as well co-author of Beer Pairing (Voyageur Press). She is a life-long homebrewer, BJCP beer judge and Certified Cicerone®. Despite her extensive experience, she will always consider herself a beer beginner on an unending journey to learn more about craft beer.

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