UPDATED: As a former producer for Larry King Live, James Knott knew he wanted to keep busy with video producing even after he became a stay-at-home dad. So he combined one love with another: video and drinking beer. Knott built a three-camera, professional set in the basement of his suburban Columbus house and last year launched the Better Beer Authority, an online talk show devoted to beer. "Beer is a fairly inexpensive activity that you can do with your friends, so I thought it would be fun to get a bunch of guys together to review beers in a talk show format," he said. "It is modeled after my experience at Larry King Live. I figured that once the set was built it would be a fairly cheap show to produce."
The 36-year-old Knott really knew nothing about beer at the time, admitting his drink of choice was always Miller Lite before. But by researching issues such as how beer is made and different styles, he quickly went from "beer noob to beer geek without even realizing it." The show format is pretty simple: Knott is the host and either chats with friends while they review a beer or he interviews special guests about the beer industry. (Below are a couple photos.) A new video is posted each week. This week's video features me discussing my book Ohio Breweries. One of the funniest episodes involves Knott and his friends doing a blind tasting of Coors Light, Bud Light or Miller Lite, and trying to figure out which is which.
"The goal is to keep it conversational and not have it become an in-depth, technical analysis of the beer that only a diehard beer nerd would enjoy," he said. "We would like to expand our viewership and spread the word of good beers. I'm not into beer snobbery, but I can't help but get excited when I talk to people about some of the great beers we've had on the show like Pliny the Elder, 120 Minute IPA or Westmalle Tripel ... The best compliment we can get is when someone says that they were inspired to go out and try a new beer because they saw it on our show."
Guests have included Jason Roeper and Randy Schiltz from Rivertown Brewery Co., Angelo Signorino of Barley's Brewing Co., Jon Koester of Maumee Bay Brewing, Dick Stevens of Elevator Brewing Co. and Chris Alltmont of Gordon Biersch. He cites Roeper and Schiltz as his favorite guests so far. "They helped us review two beers and it was great to see the quick and educated analysis that they were able to provide based on their years of brewing experience," Knott said. "Plus, they brought us several great Rivertown beers to try after the taping. We can be bought with beer!"
His dream guest is Greg Koch, chief executive officer of Stone Brewing Co. During one show, the panel derided Stone Arrogant Bastard and was immediately beaten up online by beer nerds. Koch even emailed Knott. "He seemed like a really thoughtful and interesting person -- someone I would like to have a beer with -- and that's the kind of person I want to have on the show," Knott said.
(Shortly after this post appeared, Koch agreed to stop by the Better Beer Authority set when he's in Ohio next week for a book signing. Look for him in an upcoming episode.)
To check out the Better Beer Authority (www.betterbeerauthority.com), click here.