Beer podcast completes double-feature with Cowbell Brewing
BY DENNY SCOTT
Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company is the focus of the latest episode of the Craft Beer Connoisseurs podcast, which began broadcasting last year.
The podcast is run by three connoisseurs, also known as Stratford’s Brett Pfeifer and London’s Tyler Sager and Chris Orrell. They released the first episode of their podcast last September in hopes of shining a light on some of the great craft beer available in southwestern Ontario. Soon after, they set their sights on a Cowbell episode, which was released last Thursday.
The podcast was in development for some time before the first episode was released. “The idea for the podcast started about a year and a bit ago,” Sager said.
At the time, he was working in Central Huron as the Deputy-Clerk and driving home to London when he came up with the idea.
“The three of us drink beer and we talk, so I thought we might as well put a podcast together,” he said. “The first trailer came out in August and the first episode was released in the middle of September. Since then, we’ve had bi-weekly episodes up to this point.”
The episodes each feature a brewery, starting with Left Field Brewery in Toronto in episode one and having Cowbell featured in the most recent episode last Thursday.
The trio said that working with Cowbell just made sense given its proliferation and their enjoyment of the beers the company makes.
“We’ve all had a ton of their beers and really like them,” Orrell said. “It’s a huge brewery, and very well-known across the province. We figured, if we could get them on the podcast, it would help [everyone involved].”
The relationship is a good one, Orrell said, as it helps both Cowbell let people know about its offerings and allows the podcast to benefit from Cowbell’s word of mouth.
It also made sense to focus on Cowbell because of all the unique opportunities the site offers as well as the accolades it has earned, Orrell said, including the site’s unique focus on accessibility.
“It’s beneficial to have Cowbell in our podcast because they were the LCBO Supplier of the Year for 2020 - they are everywhere.”
The trio also said that Cowbell, and its Chief Development Officer Grant Sparling, were incredibly welcoming, putting on a tour and lunch.
After their trip to Cowbell, the podcast creators are putting more of a focus on producers like the Blyth brewery.
“In 2021, we’re adding extra content,” Sager said. “Starting this Thursday [Jan. 14] we’re going to do a producer special on our off-weeks,” he said. “We’re featuring Cowbell this week.”
The producer specials will run approximately 15 minutes, Orrell said, while the main episodes run approximately 45 minutes.
The first producer special is looking at Cowbell’s 2020 Almanac brew.
The new episodes are important to not only keep the show fresh in people’s minds, but also to help boost craft beer sales, which the trio says have gone down in past years.
“We want to focus on and bring a spotlight to an industry that’s very collaborative in and amongst itself,” Orrell said.
So far, the trio has episodes scheduled through to May.
“We have about eight episodes lined up,” Sager said. “We have amazing support from craft brewing in Ontario and a lot of it came before we released any episodes.
“We keep making those relationships with breweries, which leads to us being introduced to new breweries,” he said.
As far as where their love for craft beer started, Orrell says his first brush was thanks to a craft brewer joining his curling club, leading to him trying Anderson Craft Ales and falling in love with their offerings.
Pfeifer’s brother-in-law introduced him to craft beer, starting with a story of how the brother-in-law’s house was the birthplace of Black Swan Brewing Company in Stratford.
“I tried Black Swan and loved it,” he said. “I bought three growlers that day. I’ve grown to making an order a week from a craft brewery. I try to order from as many different places as possible.”
Sager said he had been drinking craft beer unknowingly when visiting family, but didn’t really appreciate the industry until he started noticing the craft breweries whose beer he had been enjoying.
The trio’s anonymous producer is a craft beer fan, and helped Sager discover his love of it during a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a fastball tournament.
“It’s like the beer city of Michigan,” Sager said. “We went to a bunch of different craft breweries.”
Sager said he noticed the breweries, while technically competing, were all anxious to help each other out and operated as a team. Given that he was there as a member of his fastball team, he respected that.
As far as favourite beers go, Pfeifer said that he is currently enjoying Cowbell’s New England Double IPA Double Exposure, but his all-time favourite Cowbell beer was a limited offering of the Blyth brewery that was discontinued over a year and a half ago: a peach variant of Kelly’s Contraption.
“I was playing at a fastball tournament in Brussels and we had a break between games,” he said, explaining that he ended up buying four growlers throughout the tournament once he learned of the limited nature of the release.
Both Orrell and Sager said their local favourites come from Anderson Craft Ales. Orrell enjoys their Hazy IPA and Cream Ale, while Sager said he enjoys the Sour Fruit IPA. His favourite worldwide beer, however, is an Australian offer called Miss Pinky.
The podcast is available on all podcast platforms and, for more information, visit the connoisseurs at craftbeerconns.podbean.com or follow them on Instagram @craftbeerconns.