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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 our third episode, we look at the ways that people are evangelizing from their own small corners of the beer world to raise awareness of critical issues, processes, ingredients, and education in the industry, all of which make a difference in the way beer is perceived. For these folks, beer is agriculture, politics, economics—even history in the making. 

And those efforts can sometimes result in lasting change—at the personal level, and even at the state level (in this case, a state as big as Texas). So we’re going to start there. This past year, the team at Austin Beerworks in Austin, Texas took on one of the most insurmountable legal battles in beer, facing off against a legislature that’s mostly controlled by wholesaler money—and I mean a lot of it—and which only meets once every two years, and then only for 140 days. The chance to shoot your shot, and make change, is extremely narrow. This is how Michael Graham and Will Golden, two of the four partners at the brewery, saw the risk and reward of taking on that challenge, which they ultimately won.

This is Mother of Invention. Listen in.