If you’re a long-term reader of this blog, you know I have a thing against the blokes from BrewDog, the Scottish craft brewers that pumped out such undrinkable, attention-whoring beers like Tactical Nuclear Penguin, The End of History (featuring roadkill stuffed with bottles), and Royal Virility Performance, a beer brewed with Viagra to celebrate the “first night” of William and Kate (apparently that stuff works!).
My feeling then – as it is now – was that these beers weren’t brewed to take the craft of beer making to new and interesting places, they were brewed as a scream for attention from the brewery, quality of the beer be damned. Sure they were unconventional, funny and generated a lot of buzz, but as a beer geek, I felt that such style-over-substance shenanigans had no place in the craft beer world.
But they might be awesome on TV.
The folks from Esquire just sent me a link to the trailer for “Brew Dogs” a new show featuring James and Martin from BrewDog, and it looks…really good.
That hurt a little to say, I’ll be honest.
The 30 second clip is full of them high-fiving a scraggly Greg Koch from Stone (that beard is getting crazy!), practicing their golf swings on empty bottles, pumping up a crowd at a festival, and taking off their shirts at a table full of senior citizens. There’s action, wit, sarcasm, interesting accents, and two compelling figures traveling the country looking for tasty beer.
In other worlds, it’s kind of like the show Don and I wanted to make for the Discovery Channel a few years ago, before we lost out to Sam Calagione and his show “Brew Masters.” Like “Brew Dogs,” I even had outlined a party scene with seniors for a future episode (I wanted to get frat boys and seniors together at a toga party to debate the merits of Pliny the Younger versus Pliny the Elder – TV magic!).
“Brew Masters” was pulled off the air because Big Beer allegedly threatened to pull all of its advertising from Discovery’s networks if the show was allowed to go on, but honestly, the show was most likely doomed because it kind of sucked.
It was a single brewery, not a nationwide romp, and Sam Calagione came of as a super nice guy, which is the worst thing you can have on a TV show – just look at the success the acerbic Anthony Bourdain has enjoyed. “Brew Masters” was week after week of “can we get our special beer to the festival on time?!” and other friendly minutiae at the brewery that quickly started tasting flat. Whether or not big beer accelerated the invertible is a matter up for debate, but I think “Brew Masters” was already starting to drown in its own mediocrity.
A TV show on any topic, from storage lockers, to duck whistles, to myth busting, has to be entertaining to anyone who watches it, not just the people who are interested in what the show is about. You can do this with humor, interesting characters, chemistry between hosts, hooliganism, interpersonal conflict, or all of the above if you want to have a hit on your hands. From the 30 seconds I’ve seen, I think “Brew Dogs” might just have a shot of delivering what “Brew Masters” could not – a show your mom would watch and enjoy.
Plus, it’s not going to be a 60 minute infomercial for a single brewery like “Brew Masters” was, which should make it harder for big beer advertisers to pressure the network.
And about the network. “Brew Dogs” will air on The Esquire Network which we all know and love, right? What? You’ve never heard of it? Well it’s channel number…ummm…whatever G4 used to be (they took over the former mangeek network). So it might be a step below Oxygen (or even Boomerang), but hopefully enough people will find the show to give it a fighting chance to survive.
After “Brew Masters” failed, no major cable carrier wanted to gamble on a show about brews or brewers – trust me, we know this first hand after our production company tried to sell our concept to all of them. Fingers crossed that James and Martin and “Brew Dogs” shows the world that a series about beer can resonate with a broad audience, and the World’s Greatest Beverage gets another shot at the big leagues where it can turn legions of people on to the wonders of America’s awesome craft beers.
What I’m saying is don’t screw this up, you two attention whores. We’re all counting on you.