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Good Beer Hunting

Feb 1, 2020

Welcome to Mother of Invention—a special series of the GBH Podcast made in partnership with Guinness devoted to innovation in the brewing world, both historical and contemporary. In this series, we ask the question: if necessity is the mother of invention, what is the necessity that’s driving people to solve a problem, meet a challenge, or explore a new opportunity—and what are they doing about it?

This series started in collaboration with Guinness, an underwriter for GBH for three years running. Guinness has a reputation for being a technical innovator—whether it’s draft technology, the invention of the nitro widget in the can, training the world how to pour a proper pint, or achieving unprecedented consistency in their breweries around the world. But necessity and innovation come in all sorts of forms for breweries big and small, and are reflected in the cultural influences around them. 

So this year we decided to go to Denver during the Great American Beer Festival, when we knew we’d have a critical mass of influential and hard-working people from across the industry in one place. We set up shop and conducted two full days of interviews. And while the resulting conversations vary widely in terms of topics and experiences, some patterns began to emerge.

In this second episode, we’re going to look at the ways companies are attempting to connect with new audiences through product innovation. 

How are breweries like Brooklyn Brewery, Sufferfest Beer Company, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, and others shaking up their portfolios to appeal to the expanding idea of who a beer drinker is? This is a critical question at this point in the evolution of the beer industry and it’s become increasingly difficult to define who drinks what. Most people are modal—meaning they partake in cocktails, wine, spirits, macro and craft beer, hard seltzer, and cannabis—and few of us are loyal to any one category, let alone a particular subset or specific brewery. 

So what connects all these things? And how does a brewery stretch its vision to account for how the world, and the beer drinker, is changing?

This is Mother of Invention. Listen in.