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!