by Eric Ginsburg
Billy Steele may have put out a podcast before — a discussion-based sports program with a few friends — but his initial approach to the Brewcast could be described as hesitant at best. Making good on a New Year’s resolution to produce a monthly beer podcast as January wound down, Steele released his first episode on Foothills’ Sexual Chocolate beer release with a noncommittal title.
“I’m going to call this Episode Zero,” he says as the piece begins, “just in case things don’t go well I don’t want to start with Episode 1. That sort of locks me in.”
Steele laughs at himself, as his friend Jeff offers, “So, could be the first and last episode.”
But it wasn’t, and the professionalism of the Brewcast has evolved significantly over the subsequent two episodes, which saw the addition of a beer news component and more scripted, polished commentary that is significantly more engaging. The hour-long episodes include an extended interview with someone from a local brewery, beginning in Episode 1 with the forthcoming Four Saints Brewing in Asheboro and followed by Adam Glover of Natty Greene’s.
Steele, who went to Savannah College of Art & Design for graphic design and who mostly does logo and branding work, has long been interested in beer. In grad school at SCAD, Steele said he and a friend would grab the cheapest suitcase of beer they could while screenprinting shirts deep into the night. But through a side gig at a restaurant, Steele started to realize how many types of beer exist with the help of his coworkers, who introduced him to brews like Founders Breakfast Stout or bars like the Distillery in Savannah.
He moved to the Triad in 2011 with his wife, whose family lives in Asheboro. Since Steele worked at a church doing design, he launched a Twitter account, @BeardBrews, that was unattached to his name so he could check in on Untappd and post thirsty tweets. Looking to do more and no longer at the church, Steele decided to grow the podcast out of the Beard Brews account.
The Brewcast is another creative outlet for Steele, he said, and though it hasn’t garnered much of a following yet, it’s easy to imagine more beer nerds tuning in especially as Steele tightens up episodes.
Steele lives in High Point, haunting Potent Potables in Jamestown and taking day drives and weekend trips to breweries around the state when possible. He and his wife spent the last weekend in March checking out beer mecca Asheville, stopping at Fonta Flora in Morganton on the way back. The brewery and Haw River are currently his two favorites in North Carolina.
Steele, who also homebrews, goes through cycles with his beer preferences, and right now he’s on a saison kick. That’s part of the reason he’s hooked on Fonta Flora and Haw River; sitting on the patio at Hops with a Foothills Jade IPA in hand, Steele pointed to the Greensboro burger joint’s draft list. There is Haw River’s Saison, with ginger root, cumin seeds and carrots influencing the flavor, he said as he read from the menu.
Highlighting breweries like these, ones his listeners could feasibly drive to, is part of his goal for the monthly Brewscast. But it’s easy to imagine the podcast expanding, especially considering Steele drives as far as Indiana and Florida for special beer events and can speak knowledgably about beer laws in different states.
More importantly than whether he would run out of material though, is the fact that Steele is now committed to regularly releasing episodes. He’s even cautiously optimistic.
Listen to Billy Steele’s Brewcast podcast at soundcloud.com/beard-brews.