Q&A with “Brew Dogs” Executive Producer Jared Cotton

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It turns out I was right – the same attention-seeking antics that made me so exasperated with James Watt and Martin Dickie, the Scottish brewing duo behind the brewery BrewDog, have me totally digging their new TV show Brew Dogs, which premieres tonight on the Esquire Network (which up until yesterday was The Style Network).

The show is a total home run, and not just for beer geeks, but for anyone who loves quick wits, dry humor, food, and the exploration of the human condition.  I did a full review of Brew Dogs for TODAY.com, so I won’t repeat myself here, except to say YOU MUST WATCH THIS SHOW.

I interviewed Jared Cotton, one of the show’s executive producers, for the Today Show piece, but as usual, only used a few quotes over there.  Here’s the full exchange, which includes some interesting insights into the shows inception and what it’s like to work with Watt and Dickie: 

How was the idea for this show born?

- I was in Scotland shooting a video for Stone when Greg, Steve and Mitch were brewing a collaboration beer with Brewdog. After a few days of hanging out with James and Martin, I thought, “Wow, I could hang out with these guys every day… Hmm… They should be on television.” They had such good chemistry with one another and we all shared a common sense of humor and a general need to mess with people for our own enjoyment. Aside from becoming close friends, we started making videos together. The first one was Tactical Nuclear Penguin, which James shot himself to save money. When I was looking through the footage and saw brewers in penguin costumes, James naked in an ice cream factory and Bracken the dog dressed as an assistant penguin brewer I knew we had to create a TV show together.

Was Red Tail looking to create a beer show and enlisted BrewDog?

- Yes, along with my producing partners Christopher Burke and Steve Stockman, we had been trying to create a beer show for just over three years. But TV is a fickle industry and it seemed like every time we had a concept that we thought would work, there would be a set back.

Did Esquire call for the idea?

- No, actually, against our advice, James leaked the sizzle reel online. Someone from Yari films (they made Crash and The Illusionist) who was a fellow beer geek saw it, called me and when I told him about the show he set up a meeting with an agent who took us in to meet with what was then G4 and they pretty much ordered a pilot in the room.

Were you approached by BrewDog?

- No, I approached them actually. It didn’t take much convincing. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but they’re quite fond of public attention.

What effect did James and Martin’s outgoing personalities and quick wittedness have on the writing and the structure of the show?

- The guys wit and rapport with one another is just as important as any format element in the show. Their ability to play off of one another and improv moments within a scene are what make them so unique. James is always ready to go with a passionate rant about something and Martin is always there to finish it up with the perfect short, sweet and often hilarious response.

Was the show created to relate to beer geeks as well as average people looking to be entertained?

- Hell yes. I cannot tell you how important it is for me to make a show that beer geeks can enjoy just as much as the general public. That’s why James and Martin are the perfect hosts. You’d be hard pressed to find two people more passionately committed to spreading the word of craft beer but even if you’re not a beer geek, the entertainment value that they bring is enough to make you a fan of the show (I hope). Networks think that beer geeks just spend countless hours doing inventory on their beer fridge and will never be a target audience but I disagree. As a beer geek myself and someone who loves well made television, I’m going to be just as interested in seeing James and Martin introduce four ladies in a senior center to craft beer while playing “Strip Dominos” as I’m going to be about discovering what it takes to brew a beer using giant parabolic mirrors at fourteen thousand feet above sea level.

As Esquire is a man’s magazine, is the show created for a largely male audience?

- I think there will be a surprisingly even split in the demo that watches this show. Having been involved in the craft beer world for the last 7-8 years, as I’m sure you know, women love craft beer just as much as guys. Also, as my wife reminds me every time she hears James and Martin speak, chicks dig Scottish accents.

 

What’s your personal favorite moment that you’ve recorded so far?

- My personal favorite moment was high-fiving James, Martin and Greg at the end of the day after we brewed the beer on the train in San Diego. It had been such a long journey for the show to get there and it felt great to see it realized at the same time the train was arriving at the station. As far as my favorite show moment, it had to be putting DNA that had been encoded with 328mil. copies of the Declaration of Independence into our beer on the 4th of July in Philadelphia with the fireworks going off in the background. Seeing those kinds of ideas come to life on the show is pretty damned good feeling.

What can we look forward to?

- People can look forward to a fun, irreverent and entertaining love letter to the world of craft beer as guided by two crazy passionate brewers who have a tough time keeping their clothes on. Seriously, those guys are like toddlers. You turn around and you’re like, “Well, they’re naked again. I guess we should shoot this”. But this show isn’t just about James and Martin’s crazy stunts, it’s about showcasing the craft beer scene in every city that we visit and hopefully turning on millions of people to some of the best beers on the planet.

What’s the buzz on the show been like so far?

- It’s been very positive for the most part. Craft beer fans have a right to be a little skeptical about how this thing that they love so much will be represented on TV but there is no better network to carry this show than the Esquire Network. They get craft beer and they’ve given us the freedom to make the show the way that we want to make it. They actually share a similar mindset to craft brewers, in that they aren’t concerned with pandering to the lowest common denominator, in our case of TV viewer. They want us to make a smart, entertaining and fun show and they believe that the right audience will find it, watch it and support it.

How did what happened with Brew Masters (pulled before the first run was up with whispers that “big beer” pressured Discovery into ending its run) factor into how the show was conceived, pitched and put together?

- Not much, to be honest. It’s such a fundamentally different show. Brew Dogs is more like Top Gear for beer. With hosts like James and Martin you want to see them covering a lot of ground, talking with people, taking risks and pushing the boundaries. With regards to big beer, I think there isn’t a reason in the world why the shouldn’t love this show. It’s going to make people thirsty for beer and if those people happen to like “big beer” that’s what they’re probably going to drink. But hopefully, the next time they’re at a bar, they’ll have been intrigued enough by the show to try one of the craft beers on tap. After that, they can decide what they’d rather drink. Brew Dogs is motivated by a love of craft beer. It’s an opportunity to take what is in my opinion the greatest industry in the country and show people just how fun, imaginative and engaging the people in the world of craft beer actually are.

Anything else you’d like to add?

- I have to get back to work now so we don’t miss our air dates.

Are you planning on watching the show?  Have you seen it already?  As always, let us know your thoughts below!

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Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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16 Comments on “Q&A with “Brew Dogs” Executive Producer Jared Cotton”

  1. John
    September 24, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Jim = Flip-Flopper

    • September 24, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      Yup – totally. I was even looking at BrewDog beers the other day going hmmm…

      But I walked away – baby steps!

      >

  2. Christy
    September 24, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    As a female fan of craft beer, I am looking forward to this show!!!

    • September 24, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

      You should be – there’s a “no bro” vibe to it, but it’s still fun and sexy. Women are really well represented.

  3. September 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    Thank you so much for doing this interview, Jim! I’m not gonna’ lie, I might be more excited to have done an interview on B&WB than I am to watch the premiere tonight.

    I really hope that people like it! Especially if they have a Nielsen box, in which case I hope they become psychologically dependent on the show and watch it until their families stage an intervention. #TVProducerFantasies

    I have an Enjoy By in the fridge ready to go at 10|9c. Hope you guys have some fun Beer+TV pairings lined up as well.

    Cheers,
    Jared

    • September 24, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

      Thanks for taking the time for helping me out with the interview. The show is excellent, and you guys should be proud. I think I have a Tokio Stout somewhere in the beer collection – a good choice for tonight I think.

      >

  4. September 25, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Reblogged this on Proper_Pour.

  5. September 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    I was really excited to have BrewDogs use my Moruga Scorpion Chiles in the Beer in this new TV show. Now Stone is making a Specialty beer with them as well. Whats great is now I am learning all about Craft Beer. Its as diverse as the varieties of chiles that I grow!

    • September 25, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

      Those chiles looked scary, Jim!

  6. September 26, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    Saw it on On Demand last night–loved it!

    • September 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

      Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Wayne. I didn’t care about the “mission” to brew the crazy beer on the train, I just enjoyed their chemistry and any scene that had them dealing with strangers. Great hosts!

  7. Diss Content
    September 26, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    I’m a wee bit conflicted with the new program. I’m an affinity target audience member, and that may explain some of my warped viewpoints.

    The productions values were astonishingly high with many a varied and dynamic location, mode of transport, and camera management.

    The inclusion of ‘lesser known’ breweries was a plus, since the small humble establishments like Dogfish Head and Stone Brewing, aren’t as small as they were a few years ago. Craft beer success doesn’t have to be inextricably linked to barrel production, so I hoped to see more about the new taps on the block.

    It has been said (many times) the beer brewing process is like watching paint dry; so brewing beer on a train adds the excitement of watching paint dry, on a train. The mini-micro brewery was certainly constructed to a high standard, but the HLT had to be preheated in the depot. Why not add a 27 kW, 240 volt, tankless water heater to the mix, since propane was prohibited? OK, I’m diving way too deep.

    Craft Beer is constantly presented as an art form to be appreciated for the careful expertise applied to the creation of the beverage. Then a batch is contrived based upon some extreme strawman rationale (location, Egyptian lore, etc.) where adjuncts are introduced to a kinetic batch of rail wort. On paper this may be compelling, but in the real world of R&D, you are placing the longest, of long shot bets on this product. At this point I was beginning to feel a tinge of manipulation, since this first ever technique to brewing beer, is being mated with a first ever recipe. Gosh, will they be able to rescue Timmy from the well?

    The interaction with “Beer Virgins” was superb, smooth, and convivial along with well humored. Whether the person sampling the beer made a comparison to jailhouse Pruno, or looked like a delicate bloom librarian, didn’t deter these guys from their mission of sharing the good word on good beer.

    Meanwhile back on the train…. The beer is brewed in spite of some semi-drama with a self detaching hose and a pump failure. Annnd the train they call the Brewery of the Beer Dogs…. Has gone 500 miles when the day is done… (see what I did there?).

    Of course the beer is completed and at a later gathering, it is served to an objective audience, who spontaneously loved, cheered, and guzzled the experimental brew, after a pregnant pause of silence. That sort of unified appreciation is typically observed in the jungles of Guyana, Tiananmen Square, and company meetings at Oracle. So it was nice to see an unexpected approval rating of 100% for the experimental craft beer. (cough, shills, cough, cough)

    It was entertaining and should attract some new people to this type of beverage, so the balance sheet result is certainly in positive territory. The ‘extreme’ element has that ‘Jackass’ meets Guy Fieri, in a ‘Man v. Food’ competition, around the Kardashian’s kitchen, a la ‘Top Chef’ vibe, and may rightfully be in a retrograde arc. Using ‘supreme’ ingredients would be more compelling to me. I also think experiencing a failure along the way wouldn’t result in the breaking of the seventh seal, since most audience members are likely familiar with the occasional faceplant.

    • September 26, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

      I thought after watching it the first time that hardcore high-and-mighty homebrewer types would cringe at the train beer, for all the reasons you listed. But it’s beer being brewed on TV, and that’s a pretty cool step in the right direction.

      I also think the worst part of the show was when they were presenting the beer at the end, and asked the crowd if they wanted to drink it or pour it. The slight pause before the expected/hackneyed cheering was clearly added for dramatic effect, and was one of the few moment of the show that felt forced and formulaic. It really stood out because the rest of the show was so natural and flowing, and then it suddenly felt like I was watching any other BS “reality” show.

      All in all, awesome show – they should just dispense with the attempts at manufactured drama – they don’t need it, which says tons about how good of a program they have on their hands.

  8. December 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    I am interested in the sparger these guys use. Mine flows too little water to suit me.

    • January 1, 2014 at 9:11 am #

      I am posing the question of that sparger’s brand name and maybe where I can purchase one.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. NewsSprocket | Craft Beer Has Finally Gone Too Far - February 5, 2014

    […] Boston clambake and Independence Day by the fermentation wizards on Esquire TV’s ”Brew Dogs,” who used DNA coded with millions of copies of the Declaration of Independence in their […]

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