Drinking Made Easy, which kicks off a second season with an hourlong episode Wednesday night on the HDNet network, is a TV show devoted to booze and over indulging. To the extreme. The premise is pretty simple. Host Zane Lamprey and his cohorts travel around the U.S. in buses stopping at restaurants, bars, distilleries and breweries along the way to sample the "signature" drinks in each community. They drink fast and drink hard. And amuse each other with silly challenges like seeing who can eat the most fried ravioli or who can toss a keg the farthest. Animal House's John Blutarsky would be glued to the show.
"The new season is measurably better than the first season because we didn't do a comedy tour with it," Zamprey told me Tuesday by phone. "We just went and shot the TV shows and we were able to focus on it a lot more. The second season is so much better." The first season, which is available for purchase at http://drinkingmadeeasy.com, was a bit scattered, he said. Of course, that was part of the charm of the show. "I'm very proud of the whole [second] season," Lamprey said. "Every episode has some surprise to it. It's just a lot more cohesive and more methodical ... That doesn't mean we don't get crazy. That's what the show is about."
My biggest question involved his tolerance. On the show, he can drink -- a lot. Does he get hangovers? He does. But thanks to the magic of television, you don't see that. A single episode is shot over two to three days so he's not drinking as much in one day as it looks like. And production starts around 11 a.m. and he's usually wrapped up drinking by 7 or 8 p.m. Then, he begins watching video and writing the show. "I sober up as I'm doing that," he said. "I get the hangover right before I go to bed. I usually feel like crap when I go to bed."
Asked to name a favorite beer-related moment, Lamprey, who also hosted the show Three Sheets, cited a recent visit with Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Co., at the Great American Beer Festival. "It was just me and him and there were no cameras and no agenda," he said. "Just me and Jim talking for an hour or so. It was nice to meet him at this stage in my career when I could have an intelligent conversation with him about beer and the industry." As for a favorite beer? He has none. But he admitted to often enjoying just a regular old American lager -- something that annoys the craft brewers he interviews. None of the Drinking Made Easy episodes so far have been shot in Ohio. "For sure we'll do an episode of Ohio in season three," Lamprey vowed.