BierTalk English 17 – Talk with Marty Nachel, Beer Writer, Beer Judge and Beer Educator from Chicago, USA

Marty Nachel is an experienced BeerJudge, writer and brewing consultant. In the early 1980s, he visited Toronto, Canada, with his wife and took the first brewery tour of his life, tasting an unexpectedly aromatic beer. Since then, the barley juice never let him go, he became a home brewer and today beer is his life. In the podcast he tells his exciting story and reveals the stories behind it…

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Markus Raupach: Hello and welcome to another episode of our podcast BierTalk. Together we, again crossed the ocean and we are in North America. We meet a fellow colleague, writer, judge, educator and much more, friend of mine, Marty Nachel. And yes, Marty, hello. We have the afternoon here. Maybe you are more in the morning time, but thanks for having you. And maybe you introduce yourself a little bit to the listeners.

Marty Nachel: Well yes. Thank you for that introduction, Markus. A pleasure meeting you. My name is Marty Nachel. I’ve been in the beer world for at least 35, 37 years now. I first started getting interested in beer in about 1982 or so. I live near Chicago and my wife and I took a quick trip up to Toronto, up in Canada and we really didn’t have plans. So we went and visited the Molson Brewery. That’s the first time I had ever visited a brewery and we took the tour. We were given complimentary tastes of beer at the end and it was the very first time in my life that I had tasted beer not only that fresh, but I had never tasted a porter before. And once I tasted that beer, I said, that’s it. My life is on a different course now.

Markus Raupach: Wow, that sounds great. But did you talk about the big Molson Brewery?

Marty Nachel: Yes. Yes.

Markus Raupach: So at this time, they had several beers in their offerings?

Marty Nachel: They had probably at least close to a dozen, 10 or 12 different beers. Yes.

Markus Raupach: Wow. And how did a tour look like in the 80s? Was it more heavy made beer and now you have a pint? Or how did it work?

Marty Nachel: They actually took us on a tour of the brewery. It wasn’t super extensive because they didn’t want us going into certain areas, of course. Most of it was done from catwalks where we were standing up above and looking down on the different parts of the brewery. It wasn’t that long, maybe 20 minutes, a half hour. But we all ended up in the complimentary bar or tasting room at the end. And that’s where my life changed.

Markus Raupach: Wow. So then you’ve got more or less infected by beer. But what did you do before? What did you do before or what beers did you drink before?

Marty Nachel: We have a local beer here in the Chicago area. It’s very popular, at least it was very popular back when I was first starting drinking beer. It was called Old Style. And my father drank it, my brothers drank it, so I drank it. And it’s just a very, very plain boring average pilsner-style beer, but not really a pilsner. But that’s what I was drinking up until that point in time. And then I said, nope, I’m not drinking that anymore. Now I need to learn more about different beer styles from around the world. And that’s when I dove into that pond and I just kept swimming.

Markus Raupach: So and how did the swimming go on? You then visited smaller breweries? Or you started home brewing? Or you met other friends, or how did that work?

Marty Nachel: A couple of things happened kind of all at the same time. First of all, most of the beers available from around the world, the imports, they weren’t in very good condition. They were not in the best of shape when I tasted them. So I was tasting a lot of old and oxidized beers. But at least I was learning a little bit more about the history and the styles. About that same time, some smaller craft breweries were starting to open up in the United States. Like, for instance, Sierra Nevada is very popular here. For the most part, well-known. They opened up in 1980. So just a couple of small breweries had just started opening up at that point in time and I was becoming more and more aware of those small breweries, and I was seeking them out. Likewise, I also became aware of a group here in the Chicago area called the Chicago Beer Society. And they had been around since 1977. They were basically a beer appreciation group. But many of the members were also home brewers. So when I joined the group, I realized that I could brew beer at home. So of course, in 1985, I bought the equipment and I learned about how to brew and that’s when my journey in the home brewing world started.

Markus Raupach: Was it legal at this point?

Marty Nachel: Yes, it had been legal since 1979. So yes, we were about six years into legality. Yes.

Markus Raupach: Great. And so today, beer is also your job, your life or not, I don’t know. I think.

Marty Nachel: For the most part, for the most part. Going back to your first question a little while ago, my background outside of beer, I was a welder fabricator. I was blue-collar for many, many years. And like most people’s regular jobs, that’s the one that paid for the food. That’s the one that you know, paid for my mortgage. But as I got more and more into beer, when I started writing books, and when I started judging, and when I started teaching, of course, I started gaining some income from these different sources and the less I relied on my welding fabricating background. And of course, I also have to give a lot of credit to my wife. She has been in her field for about 47 years now. So if it wasn’t for her dedication to her job, I would not have been able to do what I’ve been doing all these years.

Markus Raupach: What did she say when all these homebrewing equipment arrived. So ton after ton and things.

Marty Nachel: She was intrigued, she was amused. She never thought that it would become what it did over time. She liked the beer I was brewing, most of it. Not all of it, but most of it. But like I said she was amused by the whole thing. She was glad I had a hobby that kept me in the house. So there’s a lot to say for that.

Markus Raupach: Yes, that’s right. As long as you’re brewing at home, you’re not going out.

Marty Nachel: Getting in trouble, right.

Markus Raupach:  And also, you turned all your first learnings of all your first tours and breweries into a book, where you wrote Beer Across America. Was this your first book?

Marty Nachel: That was my first book. That was in 1995. The way that started, there was a beer of the month club that started back in the early 90s, like 1992. It was the very first one of its kind here in the United States. I don’t know if you have those in Germany, but it was the very first one here. You could buy a subscription to this company and they would send you two six-packs of different beers every month. And along with that box of beer, you also got a newsletter. Well, I joined the club, and I enjoyed the beers but I was reading the newsletter. It was very thin, did not have a lot of good information. So I contacted this company and I said, hey, I think maybe I can help you out here. And so we arranged an agreement where I would start writing their newsletters for them, for pay, of course. And after about three or four years of writing their newsletters, those newsletters made it to the desk of a writing agent or a book agent in New York. He ended up contacting me and said, you know, this has the makings of a good book, we should talk about putting one together. So it ended up being called Beer Across America, which is the name of that original beer of the Month Club. And it was basically a guide to all the breweries and brew pubs that existed in the United States back in 1994, 95. And of course, there were quite a few, there are hundreds but nothing like there are today in the thousands.

Markus Raupach: So it was more or less a collection of the newsletter, or did you have to write everything in new ways.

Marty Nachel: It was kind of, it was an adaptation of the newsletters, because the newsletters contained profiles of different breweries. So those obviously made it into the book. But I also did profiles on brewers, on different people within the industry. I also included beer styles, a chapter just on beer styles. Small parts of the book were dedicated to how to pair beer with food, how to cook with beer and different things like that.

Markus Raupach: And I also noticed that 25 years later, you published another book called Tapped Out, which more or less recalled the old thing. And for me, it was a bit impressive because that means for me, that craft is now a part of history. Was this the intention?

Marty Nachel: It was definitely the intention. And there’s a little bit of a story behind that. There was a series of books being published here in the United States called On Tap. And this person who started the On Tap books, his very first book was the entire country of the United States, of course, from coast to coast. And because the industry was growing so rapidly, he could not keep up. He knew that he had to go into regional books like New England. The Mountain States. Midwest. Southeast states. And he knew that he had to get other beer writers to help him out. So he asked me if I would like to write the book. It was going to be called On Tap Midwest, meaning the eight or so states located in the Midwest part of the United States. So I travelled pretty extensively for about a year. I visited all 52 breweries that existed in those eight states at that time. I composed the manuscript, I wrote the entire thing. But unfortunately, in the interim, his publisher said, this is too big of a project. We can’t keep up, you can’t keep up. We don’t think this is viable anymore. So we’re just shutting everything down. So what would have been my book On Tap Midwest, never got published. Well, I sat on those files for 25 years, that was from 1994-ish to a couple of years ago, during the pandemic, of course. I decided that I wanted those files of those breweries from 25 years, I wanted those to see the light of day. I wanted people to read about what was happening 25 years ago in the industry, at least locally. So I self-published that book. I published it essentially word for word as I wrote it 25 years ago, because that’s what I wanted people to experience. So like you just said a minute ago, I wanted this to be recorded as history. I want it to be more or less a historical writing. So it’s out there. It’s not really about sales. It’s about educating people, or just enlightening them on where we were 25 years ago.

Markus Raupach: That sounds very interesting. So I really have to get. You didn’t add anything. So even another chapter, like an update or a view from the modern times. Or is just really one-to-one, the old idea?

Marty Nachel: I did a preview, a prologue, in the beginning of the book, just explaining what the book was all about. And kind of briefly where we are now and where we were comparing the two. And then I wrote a prologue, or I’m sorry, an epilogue, where I just at the end, I said, okay, now most of these breweries are now gone. Actually, out of the 52 breweries that were profiled, I think about exactly half of them didn’t make it these 25 years. So I made a point of pointing, making clear that a lot of these breweries no longer exist. And even within the individual brewery profiles, I did add editor’s notes. If let’s say a new brewer joined the brewery or if this brewery was bought out by such and such a brewery, I would just add editorial notes within the profiles.

Markus Raupach: Wow, that’s still a lot of work and a lot of continues work. And if you look back on these 26 closed breweries, what is the reason why they closed? Was it normally the economical things? Or was it just, they were too old? It’s 25 years.

Marty Nachel: There were a number of reasons. Some of them were very small and undercapitalized. So yes, it was a financial issue. Some of them were just not making good beer. It’s as simple as that. Newer, better breweries, took their space. They outsold them in the market. So these other breweries just closed their doors and faded away. Some did actually get bought up by other breweries. There were various reasons why they didn’t make it.

Markus Raupach: And if you think of the same area today, how many breweries are there in the moment?

Marty Nachel: Again, there were about, I covered eight states, and there were 52 breweries, initially profiled. I can say in my state alone, I’m in Illinois, we have over 200 breweries just in our state alone. So if I were to extrapolate that over the other seven states, I would say that each of those probably have at least 100 breweries. So, we’re looking at well over 1000 now in that same regional area.

Markus Raupach: So 25 more years to write the next book. Very interesting. Very interesting. I really have to get that. So my next book is already said, perfect. So you also say you were there even before it was called craft. So if you look on this time in the evolution of the whole craft beer thing, is there something like a red line you can follow and say, okay, it started like this and now it’s like this and that was the thing in between? Or is it just too much different stories?

Marty Nachel: I would say there are probably too many different stories. I mean, if you want me to just make it as brief as possible. Obviously, craft brewing in the United States started in 1986, I’m sorry, 1976. It really started catching on in the mid-80s. And then it really, really took off in the early 1990s. But here’s the difference. This is what happened. Because craft brewing was becoming so popular in the United States, what happened was, first of all, I should go backwards just a little bit and say most of the craft breweries that were opening, were being opened by home brewers. People who had already gained some knowledge of what it means to brew beer, okay? So they were the ones opening up these early breweries. Well, when we got into the 90s, a lot of people who did not brew beer, they knew nothing about the brewing industry, they simply had money. They were investors. They saw that this segment of the market was growing rapidly. They said we want to be a part of it. So they dumped a lot of money into the industry. So they opened up what’s called contract breweries. In other words, okay, I’m Joe so and so, I have a million dollars. I go to Markus and I say, okay, Markus, you own a brewery? You brew this beer for me, and you call it Marty’s Beer, okay? So you get paid from me for making my beer, I take my beer out to the market. And people look at and say, oh, Marty’s Beer. That’s a new brewery, I have to buy this and drink it. Well they find out that it’s not so good. So what happened was a lot of people with money got into the industry on contract and it gave the illusion that there were all these many more breweries than there really were. And a lot of those beers that were being produced on contract were not very good. So what happened was, the consumer caught on to this and they said, well, then the entire industry must be pretty terrible. So a lot of these businesses went bankrupt, they went belly up, they didn’t last. So there was a crash within this industry. If you take a look at a timeline, you’ll see that it’s going up and up and up to about the 19, mid-90s. And then there’s a crash, it goes back down, and it kind of levels off going into the millennium. And then going from, say, 2001 to 2010, again, there’s a huge precipitous rise in the interest. And because now people are again, educated. These are people who know about brewing beer. They’re not just investors, they’re not just pretenders or wannabes. These are people who actually know about making beer, and they’re making better and better beer. So you see this huge, huge rise in the brewery openings, from say, 2010 to 2020, up into COVID. There was just a precipitous rise from about 1500 breweries to we are now at over 10,000 breweries.

Markus Raupach: That’s a very impressive number. And so if I think of your words, one could say it all started with a homebrewer driven craft idea, then the money poured in. And then in the next wave the real brewers took over. So the quality was an important thing. And also, if you have the actual number, which is huge, that also means that the originality is important also for the customers that they support local breweries. And so it’s quality and originality. Is this maybe a key at the moment?

Marty Nachel: Absolutely. You summarized that very well. Yes, you are absolutely correct.

Markus Raupach: And so, craft, because in Germany, we always have the problem people say craft beer, but nobody knows what they mean. And even what you said is now also some different ideas of craft. So maybe I always say the original idea was to do something different from those, let’s say near water beers to make more interesting, more intense beers. But then quality came also into the aspect and also internationality. So other beer styles. So when I went to the States, I think now 10, 12 years ago, I had Kölsch and Alt beer and the lager beers were just starting and today as far as I know, lagers are big in America, also in the craft breweries. So it’s always a moving term or is there some heart of craft which you can always say this is craft?

Marty Nachel: Yes, it is. That word craft is pretty hard to pin down. Some people make it very simplistic. They just say well, okay, Anheuser Busch, Budweiser and Miller, they are not craft. They’re the industrial breweries, and anybody who’s small and local is craft. Well, that definition kind of works. It’s a beginner’s, it’s a kindergarten definition of craft. But craft was also measured. We have a group here in the United States, I believe you’re familiar with the Brewers Association.

Markus Raupach: Yes.

Marty Nachel: It’s the trade group that represents most of the smaller breweries here in the United States. They tried to define it based on barrelage. At one point in time, they said, okay, anybody who brews less than 15,000 barrels, that’s craft. Well, obviously, the small craft brewers kept on growing, making more and more beer. So the Brewers Association had to keep on moving that limit up. Okay, if you make under 50,000 barrels, okay, if you make under a million barrels. And then with Sam Adams, they said, okay, if you make under 6 million barrels, you can still be craft. Well, then it got ludicrous. That number didn’t work anymore. So nobody really pays attention to numbers. It’s all about the ethos of the industry, it’s the people behind it. It’s the quality of the ingredients, it’s the passion of the brewers. There are many different smaller things that come into play.

Markus Raupach: Yes, and you’re totally right. That’s also something when I explained in my courses that the actual rule is this six million microlitres, or barrels. It’s eight million hectoliters in the German idea. So that means that no German brewery would be bigger than craft. So all would be craft, whatever you take. So that’s, if you transfer it one to one. So it’s, as you say, it’s not about the size, maybe size matters a bit. But it’s also about the idea. But on the other hand, I also say it’s not every smallest possible and maybe least professional possible brewery is automatically a good craft brewery. The quality is then normally a problem. So yes, but as you say, the enthusiasm and what the people drives, this is also something I recognize in the North American Guild of Beer Writers where we also both are members. So and you already won prizes there. So maybe you let us know a little bit about that. So what is that a virtual peer writers guild? And did it help you through your process? Or what is your opinion about that?

Marty Nachel: Well, the North American Guild of Beer Writers was established back in the early 90s. I don’t know exactly when they came to be. I joined in about 1994. And it was a loose affiliation of what we very easily called beer writers today. Back then, the term beer writer was kind of nebulous. It’s like, mostly, when we talk about newspapers, big newspapers, most of the people who did the beer writing were actually wine writers or spirits writers. They weren’t dedicated. There wasn’t such a thing as dedicated beer writers. That term didn’t really mean anything. But over time, and with the growth of the craft brewing industry, there were people who did specialize in writing specifically about beer and about breweries. So the Guild of Beer Writers came about at the perfect time, about the early-mid-90s. And I joined and I did, I think what I gained from it mostly was being associated with other beer writers. We kind of talked amongst ourselves, we commiserated a little bit. Of course, we also awarded ourselves with trophies or medals, or whatever you want to call them by having competitions every year, and the competition was very friendly, but it was also a way to learn what we were all covering and what was working and what wasn’t working. And eventually we did establish a voice within the larger mediums like larger media, I should say, like newspapers and whatnot.

Markus Raupach: Yes, that’s very important, I think. And also, in the British Guild of Beer Writers, there’s a lot of also education so that a lot of knowledge transfer. Maybe someone knows how to publish a book or how to make a podcast or and there’s the other. So there’s a lot of working together and bring the common idea further.

Marty Nachel: Absolutely.

Markus Raupach: And as we are talking about beer writing, we of course have to talk about your next book, and this is your actual book, Homebrewing For Dummies. But you also wrote Beer For Dummies. So maybe my first question is, what is the dummy in terms of beer?

Marty Nachel: Okay, I have to tread very carefully here. At least I can speak for Americans, I think a lot of Americans are a little bit maybe lightly insulted by the term dummy. It implies that you don’t know anything. So when the very first dummies book was printed, it was actually DOS For Dummies, D-O-S For Dummies. It was for people who were into computers and had to learn about DOS. But of course, that brand grew considerably and they went on to include many different topics, hundreds of different topics. Well, eventually, I was contacted to write Beer For Dummies and there was a compendium of a lot of different information. I not only talked about the history of beer, about beer styles, again, about beer and food pairing and how to cook with beer, and how to travel in search of good beer, not just in the United States, but around the world. So yeah, it was a compendium of different things. I tried to include as much as possible to attract different people from different walks of life, not just those who were brewing beer, but those who enjoy drinking beer, those who travelled, those who collected brewery antiques, those sorts of things. And that book is now going to be in its third edition next January.

Markus Raupach: Wow. Great story. And we also have these dummies books about almost everything, even Women For Dummies. But let’s not talk about that. Okay, and let’s go back to your homebrewing book. Maybe basically, what do I learn in that book? Is it possible that if I don’t know anything, I have the book and afterwards I can maybe start being a brewer or homebrewer? Or do I need other things? Or what is the key thing?

Marty Nachel: Well, I can say very confidently, that this book was written for the person who has never brewed before. So if you’re coming to the hobby with absolutely zero knowledge, this book is a good starting point, because I talk about the history of how brewing came to be. I talk about the different ingredients both at the commercial level and at the homebrewing level. And I compare and contrast how they’re the same and how they’re different, how they’re used. I also talk about the necessary equipment that’s needed to brew at home, and how you can … you need x equipment at the beginning level, and then you need to graduate up to an advanced level. And then you need to graduate a little bit more up to an expert level. So even if you start with nothing, you can actually work yourself up through the different levels until you would be considered an expert at brewing. I include many different recipes and they’re not all my recipes. A lot of them are award winning recipes borrowed from fellow homebrewers, other people I’ve met through the internet, through other books that were published previously through the Brewers Association. So there’s all different kinds of good information here.

Markus Raupach: So the book can really be my companion into my personal homebrewing history,

Marty Nachel: I would certainly expect that it would be yes.

Markus Raupach: Okay. Very good. So I’m very looking forward to read more in it, because I’m a very bad homebrewer, and my personal problem is I’m not good in controlling. So like controlling hygiene, controlling temperatures, and all these things. And if you’re not good at that, beers get spoiled or whatever, fermentation doesn’t really work or whatever. And also, I think my problem was I started judging before I started brewing, and then the level you have internally for your beers is way too high, so you will never reach it. So as stopped it again, but that’s a hard thing.

Marty Nachel: I can appreciate exactly what you said, because I don’t always like admitting this, but I no longer brew either. I did brew for about 35 years. But because of the proliferation of good quality beer, not just across the United States, but even right here in my neighbourhood, I don’t feel the need to make my own beer anymore. I would rather invest that money in my local breweries and support them and just simply drink their beer rather than drink my own. And as you said, as a beer judge, I have very high standards of quality. My own home brewery was not meeting those standards.

Markus Raupach: So we really have another thing in common. But I saw also you write about other drinks like cider, mead and hard seltzer. And what was the idea behind that?

Marty Nachel: Well, a couple of different things. Mainly, that when somebody buys the equipment with the intention of making beer at home, I just wanted to make it very clear that with that same equipment, you can also brew other alcoholic drinks such as hard cider, such as mead, and now with the interest in hard sodas or hard seltzers, that you can also make those at home. So I think it made perfectly good sense to include information on how to make those products with the same equipment.

Markus Raupach: Do you already have feedback from the first readers to the book?

Marty Nachel: The feedback so far has been kind of lacking. I would actually appreciate more feedback. But for the most part, when there’s a feedback, most of that goes directly to my publisher, rather than to me. I usually get the feedback through my publisher. So unless it’s somebody I know on a personal level, I don’t typically get that feedback.

Markus Raupach: Okay, but I think it will come through the publisher in the next month or so.

Marty Nachel: Yes, in due time. Yes, I will get that.

Markus Raupach: Yeah, you also write about gluten-free beers and also about the idea of eco-friendly or green brewing. So that’s very modern topics. I didn’t think that that is quite a big thing in the States already. But apparently it is.

Marty Nachel: It is and it has been. I try to keep as current as possible. Not only does my publisher expect that of me, but I expect that of myself. If I’m going to be publishing a second edition and a third edition and perhaps eventually a fourth edition, it’s imperative that I keep up with what’s going on in the industry. And I want to be as inclusive as possible to all potential readers and to all potential homebrewers. If people have gluten-restricted diets, then it’s important that I address that issue that I also tell them how they can make gluten-free beers at home, and so on.

Markus Raupach: And the eco-friendliness? What can a homebrewer do to be more eco-friendly? Maybe you have some examples.

Marty Nachel: I’ll use an example that’s actually brand new to this third edition. As I was growing up within the homebrewing community, I had always heard how important it was, once your beer is done brewing, meaning after you turn off the heat and it’s still very hot, that you want to cool that down as quickly as possible. And the methods available to homebrewers were typically immersion chillers. And those immersion chillers used a lot of water. In other words, you would turn on this cold water that would run through a coil, it would be a copper coil or a stainless steel coil, and then that water would then just be run down the drain. And you’d be wasting a lot of good, clean usable water. Well in Australia, where they have issues throughout most of the country with lacking access to good clean water and dealing with droughts and things like that, local home brewers realized that you could still make good clean quality beer without undergoing or without making your beer undergo that quick chill method at the end. So what they did is through experimentation, they realized that you could still put that hot beer into a specific vessel and just allow it to cool slowly overnight on its own without wasting any water whatsoever. And I thought that was phenomenal. That was to me, that was earth-shaking information. Because I had always been told, contrary that you needed to cool the beer down as quickly as possible. Otherwise your beer could go bad quickly. And now we know that’s simply not the truth as long as you do it the right way.

Markus Raupach: So the right way means you have a closed vessel where the hot water is in?

Marty Nachel: Absolutely yes.

Markus Raupach: Very interesting and I think generally, sustainability becomes a more and more important topic, especially also if people who are generally interested in being sustainable have the hobby of brewing, they try to adapt as much as possible also there. So maybe also regional suppliers like moulds and hops and all these things. And of course, energy as you say, as low energy consumption as possible. So I think also brewing is something that it was a long humanity for more than 10,000 years and so it also changed and the priorities also change where you set your focus on. And maybe this is a new focus which is now coming into beer.

Marty Nachel: Absolutely, yes. And I’m very happy, I’m proud to address the issues of being a green brewer.

Markus Raupach: I think also that happens in the big industry. So of course, you have some who are more or less greenwashing. But you have more and more breweries who really try to get CO2 neutral or negative, which is a very interesting thing. And also in Germany now with the energy crisis, there’s a lot of things going on to bring breweries more and more into reduced consumption or even produce things like CO2, not don’t waste the fermentation CO2 and all these things. So, but I think also the energy prices are rising in the States also.

Marty Nachel: Absolutely, yes. Well, everything is.

Markus Raupach: Everything is. Okay. Maybe another book of yours. Maybe the smallest you made is the book How To Judge Beer Like A Pro which I have quite a long time now and it’s a very nice little book where you really can go into judging. What does judging mean for you? And what was your focus writing that little book?

Marty Nachel: First of all, thank you for buying that book. You’re one of three people. Just kidding.

Markus Raupach: That’s always interesting to find there’s one reader of yours I know from the books.

Marty Nachel: Yes, it’s a self-published pamphlet. It’s not really a book. It’s a pamphlet. It’s, I don’t know, 30 pages or so. But anyway, my purpose behind that, first of all, it was another Covid project, I had time on my hands and these are files that I had kept for myself for a long period of time. So I decided to just put it together to help other people who wanted to get into judging. But to answer your question, what does judging mean to me? Well, first of all, speaking for myself as a consumer, judging other people’s beer is an education. When I get to taste all these different styles of beer made by different producers, it’s an education and I can’t get that education anywhere else. So from a selfish point of view, judging is educating myself. Looking at it from a little bit more of an objective standpoint, I want to help others learn how to become proper judges. When I first got into judging, back in the mid-80s, obviously, I was not a good judge, not when I first started out and nor were many of the people I judged with. It was a learning process. It’s something you have to work on. It’s like anything else, you have to practice, practice, practice. So if this pamphlet, this booklet, helps other people to get a leg up to get kind of a head start on their judging career, if you want to call it that, well so much the better. That’s the idea behind it.

Markus Raupach: I think that’s also something that evolved or changed, or there was an evolution or however you call it. Because of your thing, maybe you see until ten years ago, it was like you said. So people started judging in minor competitions and then they learned from each other. And when they were better, they got to the bigger ones. And at the end, they ended up at the World Beer Cup and so. And there is now a group of judges, maybe ages 50 plus or 55 plus whatever, which is the group of the old guys, let’s say like this. And there is the big question how to get new ones. And also, of course, the old system kind of works, but it’s different. It’s already different. And also younger people are looking for like education in judging, like BJCP does, or others do. And I think it’s an important thing, and it has so many different aspects. Because one is the knowledge about the style ideas of a beer, let’s say the colour, the bitterness and all this. But then there’s also the history of a beer style to understand what is the idea behind that and did they match this. And it’s also of course, about the failures which can be done, but also about the behaving on a judging table. You have a table captain, you have other judges, so you cannot be just like a solo player. It’s always a teamwork and so many things you have to understand. Of course, it’s alcohol. So I was at competitions where you have 120 beers a day. And at the end, you have the finals. So you have to be in a good shape with beer 100 to 120. And so this is also a professional thing that you have that in mind that you behave. So I think judging is really, it’s a world of its own.

Marty Nachel: Absolutely. And it does, like I said earlier, it does take practice and you have to follow rules. You have to cooperate, participate. Not just anybody can jump into this. It takes time.

Markus Raupach: And I also read that you have been to the Chile competition, where I think I was there one year after you.

Marty Nachel: I was there in 2017, yes.

Markus Raupach: I think it was 19, but I’m not sure, but I think. So it was fantastic. A great experience for me to be at the other end of the world and have all these beers and their mood is very different and fascinating. So what is for you the international aspect of judging, coming together with other people?

Marty Nachel: Well, there’s a couple of different things. Again, from a personal more or less selfish aspect, I really, really enjoy and appreciate getting to meet other judges from other countries. Just the association with people that I respect, and that I want to learn more from. That’s number one. Number two, I think it is really important for the various competitions when you have an international panel of judges. I think that gives that particular competition a great deal of respectability. And so I think a lot of the international competitions are doing a great job of bringing judges in from around the world. And I think that’s great for the industry. I think it’s great for the brewers, it’s great for the judges. And I think the more that we as judges interact, the better it is for everyone.

Markus Raupach: Yes, and also, I’d say it’s a little bit better for the world. Because you understand that no matter where a judge comes from, we have something in common. And when we are talking about the beer, it’s a nice time, and it’s a good time. And there is no reason for fighting, for aggression, for whatever. And to learn, you can get along and have a beer and it’s a nice time anyway. So I think that’s a very important. And also if you visit other countries as a judge, you’re always welcomed like a friend. So you’re never a tourist, you’re always a friend. So you see other things, you eat and drink other things. So that’s always fascinating. So maybe we meet next year in Nashville, hope so.

Marty Nachel: If not in Nashville, maybe somewhere else.

Markus Raupach: Yes, maybe somewhere else. Maybe your last question. You said you are also beer-educating, and you talk a lot about food pairing. So maybe first question is, is there a possibility maybe for our listeners to take part in courses you do? So maybe there’s some online program or also books or whatever. And the other question may be food pairing, Christmastime. So how does your Christmas meal look like also in terms of beer, of course?

Marty Nachel: Of course. I’ll answer your first question. I teach locally at a community college. We have a program there called Business of Craft Beer. It was started back in 2015. I was brought on as an advisor to the program. And I ended up teaching the two prerequisite courses that lead into the program. So everybody who graduates from the program comes through my two prerequisite courses. We cover a lot of ground before it gets more specific about different things having to do with running a business within the industry. So I’m still doing that. This is now, we’re seven years in, I’m still doing that. And with regards to beer and food pairing that is part of the one course that I teach. We spend an evening talking about that and we actually do the hands-on beer and food pairing. But what my Christmas dinner might look like. Depending on what was being served, a very standard Christmas meal might include either turkey or ham or something like that. And depending on which one it is, we would have several different beers throughout the various courses. Always starting with lighter, paler, lower alcoholic beers, just to whet the palate. And then as we work our way through the various courses of the meal, we would probably get into slightly darker, slightly richer, slightly more alcoholic beers. And finishing up with dessert of course we would ultimately reach what would probably be very dark beers, richer beers and probably the most alcoholic beers of the night. So yes, we would probably have four to five beers throughout the course of the evening and it would be a lot of fun, that’s for sure.

Markus Raupach: Yes, sounds great. And did you ever have a German Bamberg-style smoked beer like a double bock or something like that?

Marty Nachel: It is absolutely one of my all-time favourite beers and I know you live there in Franconia. I’m very jealous of that. I’m very envious. I love bock beer and I try to introduce as many of my students to it as I possibly can.

Markus Raupach: Fantastic. So you are our ambassador. And of course, when I come next year, I will try to bring some along, so fresh ones and great.

Marty Nachel: That would be awesome.

Markus Raupach: So thanks a lot for your time, for the information and also for your work on the books. And have a nice time and I’m really looking forward to seeing you next year.

Marty Nachel: Well thank you very much, Markus. I enjoyed this. This was good time and thank you very much for having me on. And yes, I do hope that we meet soon.

Announcer: Bier Talk. Der Podcast rund ums Bier. Alle Folgen unter www.tiertalk.de

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