Meet The Beer Traveler

The Beer Traveler, Charlie Herrin (right) with the Widmer Bros, Kurt (left) and Rob (center)

The Beer Traveler documentary series looks to grow from local niche appeal to a mainstream success story as the craft beer sector continues to expand.

Michael Jackson - the Beer HunterYou may have noticed these days that the proliferation of craft beer in media is growing exponentially. A new beer blog around every corner, podcasts, and of course, documentary series about artisan beer. Perhaps the most notable to craft beer lovers has been Brewmasters, a quickly extinct series on the Discovery Channel headed by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s charismatic founder Sam Calagione. Before Calagione’s series that centered around his brewery’s “Off-centered Beers for Off-centered People”, the iconic British beer writer Michael Jackson also had his own brief series, The Beer Hunter (1989), also on the Discovery Channel as well as Channel 4 in the UK. There was even a more goofy, less informative short-lived series Beer Nutz. Several other documentaries worthy of regarding have dipped their toes in the mainstream such as Paul Kermizian’s American Beer (2004), Anat Baron’s Beer Wars (2009), and locally in the Northwest, Alison Grayson’s Love of Beer (2011).

While none of the aforementioned episodic documentary series lasted for very long, they are all responsible for aiding in paving the way for craft beer as a component to our lives. And while Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) agents in Alabama may be illustrating archaic and fascist governance over craft beer and brewing, most of the free Western world appears to be enjoying a growing appreciation for quality locally made brews and a departure from mainstream macro swill.

The Beer Traveler - Charlie HerrinIn Portland, Oregon, Charlie Herrin is heading an effort to rekindle the often derailed ambition by many craft brewing media agents. His forthcoming series The Beer Traveler begins with humble roots in a city that undoubtedly supports artisan beermaking to an almost polar opposite to much of the stupendously un-evolved South. In fact, it’s safe to say that the understanding of craft beer’s impact on the Oregon economy is widely appreciated in the area. Don’t believe us, just check the facts sheet on the Oregon Brewers Guild official website here.

Brewpublic is teaming up with Herrin and company to bring you the early episodes of The Beer Traveler. We plan on taking you on Herrin’s journey with his team of local filmmakers to some of the best craft beer spots around before heading on to reach a larger national and international scope. The road won’t be paved in gold but it will be flowing with great beer and a lot of fun. Brewpublic will debut the first episode of The Beer Traveler here on our site on Tuesday October 2, 2012, with added uploads showing up weekly.

In the time being, we offer you an exclusive interview with Charlie Herrin to learn about the scope and mission of The Beer Traveler series. It should be a hell of a ride.

What is The Beer Traveler all about?

Charlie Herrin: The Beer Traveler is a show about craft beer, and a whole lot more. Being a fan myself, I’ve watched shows that attempted to showcase craft beer as the main component not last more than a year.

I felt I knew the reason why, and that is that the shows were too craft beer focused to capture the interest of the people that weren’t craft beer drinkers. Only 6% of the drinking age population are even interested in craft beer, it just wasn’t enough to support an episodic show. I wanted to create something that went after the forgotten
94%, but would somehow still be of interest to the 6% that loved their craft beers.

I accomplished that goal by adding a couple of topics that go right along with craft beer. I wish that I could say it was all pure genius on my part, but it wasn’t. It was a lot of late nights doing research. What the research told me was that travel and food were my answers.

What started me thinking along these lines was watching television with my wife. I love shows about craft beer, my wife not so much. What my wife and I could agree on were travel shows and food shows. Along with the rest of America, we are absolutely food and travel nuts.

The Beer Traveler on the "set" in Widmer's Portland, Oregon brewhouse

What is your role in the project?

CH: I ask myself that same question every day, and laugh. I wear any hat needed to get the job done. At the end of the day you could say I am the creator, executive producer, and host of the show. Although at times, I’m also the secretary, the lunch guy and the clean up crew.

Lights, camera, craft beer - The Beer Traveler

Who else are key players in The Beer Traveler project?

CH: Everyone on my team is a key player. None of this would be possible without the group of incredibly talented folks I’m fortunate enough to work with.
Will Nelson – Editor, Camera, Director
Duke Geren – Consulting Producer, (BTS) Behind the Scenes photos, Asst. Director, Tech Guy
Andrew Owen – Head Camera/DP, Lighting, Tech Guy, BTS Photos
Taylor Jones – Sound Guy, PA
Gigi Goodrich – Makeup Artist
Andy Aldridge – Writer

Charlie Herrin (left) and Duke Geren hard at work

What inspired The Beer Traveler?

CH: Like I said, I wanted a show that my wife and I could watch together and enjoy. However, my biggest inspiration was the brewers and their incredible stories of what they did to get where they are today.

What is your background and how does it tie in to this craft beer undertaking?

CH: I was originally in sales and management. Then I spent some time working with a small TV studio to satisfy my curiosity and got into filming sports. I have worked on small shows, movies, commercials, fashion and other miscellaneous projects over the years in just about every capacity. I have owned numerous businesses over the years which have taught me quite a lot about both how to build a successful project and what folks want. I’m also a home brewer who is crazy about the craft scene. I have experienced craft all over the United States and was considering taking a job in the industry as a brewer. About that time I shared my idea with another producer in the business and she said it sounded like I already had a job in the industry and just didn’t know it. With a few
key friends and my wife pushing me to go for it, I did just that.

Filming The Beer Traveler - Andrew Owen

Is The Beer Traveler set to focus primarily on Oregon or are you looking to expand beyond and go national/international?

CH: We started in Oregon due to Portland’s unbelievable craft brewing scene, and I live here so it just made sense. Plus, why not start with some of the folks who really paved the way for everyone?

There have been a number of documentaries, webisodes, and programs covering craft brewing. What is your specific focus with this project? What is it about The Beer Traveler that sets itself apart from the pack?

CH: We are not a show that was built solely around beer. I wanted my design to appeal to a larger audience, yet still be exciting for the beer geeks out there. I am also a major beer geek, so getting to create a show about my favorite subject has definitely been incredible, and a lot of fun.

The Beer Traveler Charlie Herrin interviews Bailey's Taproom Publican Geoff Phillips

Are there any memorable moments from filming that stand out in your mind?

CH: The very first day we shot with Kurt and Rob Widmer stand out to me. These guy’s are the rockstars of our industry, in my opinion. They’ve proven that by using quality ingredients and a bit of artistry, they could create a product that people loved. So, because of my small case of hero worship, I was so nervous for the first twenty minutes with them we had to do numerous takes.

Honestly, every moment of this show has been memorable and I don’t ever see that changing. I get to travel and hang out with an incredible team and meet the folks behind the whole craft beer movement. I have the BEST JOB in the whole world.

What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve come across in pursuing this endeavor?

CH: Money, Money, Money! Or lack thereof. I thought I had budgeted for everything, but there are always the unforeseen circumstances. Let’s just say it’s been very educational, a process that no amount of planning can prepare you for.

Executive roundtable at The Beer Traveler HQ

What are your goals with The Beer Traveler? Do you anticipate going mainstream or getting picked up by a network for wider distribution?

BridgePort Brewmaster Jeff Edgerton (left) with The Beer Traveler Charlie HerrinCH: The plan has always been to go mainstream. We hope to be in contract with a network in the next three to six months. If for some crazy reason that doesn’t happen, we will find some way to self fund it. I didn’t give up a year of my life to see this amazing opportunity sit in a can.

We would love feed back from the folks who take the time to watch our webisodes. This show is ultimately for them. I have seen every piece of footage way more than I care to admit. The crew and I are now in what I call tunnel vision land and sometimes it becomes difficult to see the forest through the trees. Each person who watches is a
fresh set of eyes and we would love to hear from them, both the good and the bad.


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