Sep. 24, 2013 at 9:43 AM ET
There’s a moment in the premiere episode of the beer-centric TV show “Brew Dogs” where it becomes clear that it has the makings of a hit.
James Watt and Martin Dickie, two charming Scottish brewers who have come to America on a mission to turn one million people on to the wonders of craft beer, have accosted a pair of sassy baby boomer women for an impromptu beer tasting on the sidewalk of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.
Things aren’t going smoothly. The women, who may have already sampled a cocktail or two before being approached by the brewers, try to wrest control of the proceedings from Watt, who isn’t having any of it. The exchange is funny, high-spirited, and involves blindfolds, the hand feeding of candies, and the phrase, “That’s the smallest human tongue I’ve ever seen!” delivered in a thick Scottish brogue (“thots tha smaellest uman tong U’ve eva seun!”).
The comic chemistry and punk rock edge provided by Watt and Dickie is intoxicating, making the show, which premieres Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 10 p.m. ET on the Esquire Network (formerly Style Network), well worth watching.
“You'd be hard pressed to find two people more passionately committed to spreading the word of craft beer, but even if you're not a beer geek, the entertainment value that they bring is enough to make you a fan of the show (I hope),” Jared Cotton, an executive producer of “Brew Dogs,” told TODAY.com.
And that’s important, because for a show about craft beer to survive in the United States, it has to appeal to more than just beer geeks.
The first episode establishes the format of the show: Watt and Dickie go to a city with a booming craft beer scene, explore the local culture, and brew a special beer to celebrate what’s unique about that city, usually in the most ridiculous way imaginable. Oh, and whenever possible, they get naked.
“Seriously, those guys are like toddlers,” said Cotton. “You turn around and you're like, ‘Well, they're naked again. I guess we should shoot this’”
While this approach could come off as formulaic and forced, it’s just the opposite – you get so caught up in the show’s humor and how it celebrates the human condition (from strip dominoes at a retirement center, to the boys approaching strangers in a train station to join them for a beer) that you forget about the premise altogether and just go with the flow. The show might be about beer, but it’s driven by spontaneous moments with real people, much like “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain, which is about as good as a travelling food show can get.
That’s not to say beer takes a back seat in “Brew Dogs” – it comes across as a fine food, something to be savored and celebrated by everyone. Beer geeks will be in heaven as they watch this show.
The San Diego episode starts at Stone Brewing’s World Bistro & Gardens (a bucket-list destination for any beer lover), and features beers from Ballast Point, Alpine, Lost Abbey and Alesmith – it’s like seeing your friends on television. There’s a beer and food pairing competition that has a “Chopped” vibe to it, a rundown of San Diego’s top five beer bars, and fun graphical explanations of beer history and chemistry.
By the end of the first episode, I didn’t care if the kelp-chili pepper-rosemary infused IPA the boys brewed on a moving train was going to be well received by the public during its big reveal. I was mostly bummed that the ride was slowing to a halt and that Esquire only provided a single episode for me to watch. Like a good brew, I wanted more.
So set your DVR and grab a sixer of Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (seriously – it’s in the first episode enough times to make you pine for your own glassful) and get ready to enjoy the show.
“Brew Dogs” is appointed viewing for anyone who likes their television as authentic and as full-flavored as the beers being crafted by small independent brewers across America. '