At home, I have beer. I can get it delivered to the house, or head to my favorite brewery where they’ll drop it into the cooler in my trunk without me ever getting out of the car.
The pandemic has loosened alcohol laws so I can even order a mojito to-go from a nearby restaurant and walk home surreptitiously sipping away.
What I don’t have is the ability to sit down at the bar, order a beer, and get into a meandering debate with some other random human being about nothing. Those kismet discussions over beer that lead to lifelong friendships or at least new perspectives still aren’t happening, but I’ve found something that feels close.
It’s called the I Like Beer Podcast, and listening feels a bit like eavesdropping at a nearby table in the tasting room. The ILBP team consists of North County locals Jeff Spanier, Jeff Riccitelli, Tom McMahon, Tod (The Doctor) Muilenberg and Joe Szalkiewicz, who participate in regular rousing discussions that start with drinking, rating (using the Untappd app) and discussing beer.
They spend the better part of an hour veering off on tangents as they work through show bits like “Toast, Roast and Pour One Out,” relaying the stories behind the beers they’re drinking, and a new segment called “Wild Things” with the Doctor, who brings a new wild kingdom learning topic to the table.
After a long discussion over a Rouleur Bonkeur mosaic pale ale about the soul of the octopus, I actually checked my phone to make sure I was still listening to a beer podcast. Then I watched a dozen videos of octopi on YouTube. Then it comes back around to another pint, another beer rating and another tangent.
Early on during a brewery tour road trip, the ILBP team realized that it wasn’t the science behind beer that they found interesting.
“What intrigued us, probably the teachers in us, [was] the stories. How did they get into brewing? How did you come up with these beer names? Why is your brewery called this? Who’s this guy here, and how long has he been here? How long has she been here? … And what we realized, I think everyone has a story … everyone has a great story or two or three, and that was what intrigued us,” said co-host Jeff Spanier.
Listening to the show I find myself getting ready to interrupt with my own tangents every so often before realizing I’m at home on the porch drinking my own local beer, and not, as it momentarily seemed, sitting in a taproom somewhere in North County with the guys. It’s hard to tell if they even do this show for the audience or just to entertain one another.
Three of the hosts, the two Jeffs and Tod, are teachers in Carlsbad. Joe, the show’s producer, runs Yellow Line Digital and Tom works in event production. The show’s genesis came on a group spring break trip over pints on the beach, and it was clear fairly quickly that their various skillsets would work together. Their own expectations for the show were small.
They were thrilled when they had 10 followers and threw a party when they got to 100. They’re way past that, and through the show have learned a lot more about beer, although they don’t consider themselves be brewery insiders, just fans.
Jeff Riccitelli clarified, “We’re big fans of brewers and breweries … and so we use this podcast to just promote and advertise [for them] because we feel like, hey, we’re so lucky where we live. … If you live locally, and you’re not taking advantage of these [beer] opportunities you need to do that, but if you don’t you should come visit here because it’s so great.”
This isn’t just a show about beer or only for beer lovers. It is a show showcasing friendship and leaning into the meandering curves of conversations that come when you’ve spent a lot of time together, are comfortable with each other, and have found a way to remain connected despite all the worldly distractions.
Bookmark the new Coast News Podcast Directory to find and listen to all of our new shows, including the new episode of the Cheers! podcast with some of the creators of the I Like Beer Podcast coming soon.