Beer Stories: Craft Beer Industry Insights

BONUS EPISODE: Host of Seven Million Bikes Podcast & Producer of Beer Stories, Niall Mackay

February 27, 2023 Hosts: Mischa Smith & Alex Violette, Guest: Niall Mackay Season 1 Episode 10
Beer Stories: Craft Beer Industry Insights
BONUS EPISODE: Host of Seven Million Bikes Podcast & Producer of Beer Stories, Niall Mackay
Show Notes Transcript

In this Bonus Episode, Alex & Mischa interview Producer Niall about HIS craft beer journey! They discuss Niall's favourite thing about beer, that time he quit drinking for a year and a half, his first memory of discovering craft beers, the Australian craft beer scene (from back in the day), visiting St. James's Gate, the sanctity of the bar area, drinking beer in The UK vs. drinking beer in The USA, big breweries acquiring craft breweries, the 1%, the problem with gendering beer styles, whether or not it's appropriate to try to pick up women at a Taproom, beer snobs, and draft vs. package! They also engage in a pre-Hangover Check Hangover Check segment that was then called "How Hungover Are You" and wrap it up with a lively round of Fact or Fiction! Enjoy. 

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Micha Smith:

Welcome back to Beer Stories uh podcasts set here in Saigon Vietnam hosted by myself Misha Smith and my co-host

Alex Violette:

Alex

Micha Smith:

Our producers Niall Mackay theme music by Louis Wright And our guest today is our producer Niall Say Hello Hey thanks for coming on on short notice

Niall Mackay:

You are welcome This was definitely not an act of desperation at all

Micha Smith:

Niall what's your favorite thing about beer

Niall Mackay:

The social aspect of it Doing it with people Not that I don't do it on my own sometimes we were waiting in lane and U was looking at all the bes she loves like IPAs She loves sellers And then this guy behind on? He is like You should get this one just like the lowest strength weakest beer

Micha Smith:

You wouldn't be like chatting them up trying Hey babe Sorry I can't have a bad flight Hey babe What do you know about hops

Niall Mackay:

I stopped drinking for like about a year and a half 10 years ago

Micha Smith:

Did you have a goal in mind Like were you planning on not drinking

Niall Mackay:

ever again Yeah

Micha Smith:

what was it about your life that you decided you didn't wanna have any drinks anymore for the rest of your life Before we get into it we're gonna do our uh, the hottest new running segment in the podcast business Uh, it's called the Hangover Check so Niall how hungover are you? This.

Niall Mackay:

right now I'm Okay When I woke up I was like

Micha Smith:

Okay Did you Did you have a heavy night last night

Niall Mackay:

Well Yeah I guess so

Micha Smith:

That's the only way you get angle

Niall Mackay:

Yeah pretty much I was like Yeah no I mean it's one of these things I look back and I'm like I didn't feel like you had too many drinks but yeah I had too many

Micha Smith:

thinking about it you're like

Niall Mackay:

Oh well there

Micha Smith:

that and then the next and then

Niall Mackay:

Yeah And you know came home and had sew you before went to sleep which is just not necessary like at all you

Micha Smith:

Soja was never necessary

Niall Mackay:

Exactly Yeah So so yeah was hungover but I recovered pretty quickly

Micha Smith:

Love it Alex how hungover were you this morning

Alex Violette:

4.2

Niall Mackay:

not a rookie school Misha How hungover were you

Micha Smith:

I was not I had a a relatively quiet Friday night Because I knew we were we were recording this morning I wanted to be responsible and professional I'm not saying you you you weren't you weren't meant to on I'm I'm reforming my Yeah

Niall Mackay:

I thought you were gonna say you weren't hungover cuz you got smashed by a bake yesterday That

Micha Smith:

I

Niall Mackay:

two days ago

Micha Smith:

No I'm

Alex Violette:

There's nothing like knowing you're waking up to sit in the hottest room in the earth for two hours to get a good night's sleep and make sure you're not hungover

Niall Mackay:

Let's just we it out It's a sweat box

Micha Smith:

So that's been Our new segment how hungover are you

Niall Mackay:

I like it

Alex Violette:

Great segment Misha

Micha Smith:

So Niall

Niall Mackay:

Misha

Micha Smith:

We're just gonna dive into it Niall what's your favorite thing about beer

Niall Mackay:

The social aspect of it you know like Doing it with people Not that I don't do it on my own sometimes but to It's not very often I actually I don't really think very often I've ever cracked open a beer by myself every now and again But when I think about it if I'm drinking beer it's it's always with someone

Alex Violette:

Does the type of beer matter

Niall Mackay:

Fortunately not No As long as it's beer

Alex Violette:

So it's just the experience The experience of drinking beer is more important than the beer itself

Niall Mackay:

Yeah So I actually I don't know if you guys know this I I stopped drinking for like about a year and a half about 10 years ago maybe a bit more than 10 years ago And the first drink I had when I started to drink again was a couple's green air And I was in the Outback in Western Australia traveling down the west coast about a million degrees So And my friends had to create a beer and I just sat there and I was like I really want a beer with you guys You know

Micha Smith:

You said it was a year and a half

Niall Mackay:

half Year and a half

Micha Smith:

and were Did you have a goal in mind Like were you planning on not drinking

Niall Mackay:

ever again Yeah yeah yeah So it was a big decision to then start drinking again

Micha Smith:

and it was so hot in the outback

Niall Mackay:

Yep That's what drove me to it It was just so ridiculously hot I mean now living inside going you I'm probably acclimatized to the heat but first time and that kinda Didn't matter what you drank water juice anything Like you're just so thirsty all the time And the guys I was with had create a beer and I was like Could really go a beer right now So eventually had one and then that was it

Micha Smith:

I'm really curious about this So so yeah I've I've had some friends who have chosen the path of sobriety for various reasons So what what was it about your life that you decided you didn't wanna have any drinks anymore for the rest of your life

Niall Mackay:

I just I was doing stupid things so I was living in America at the time and I remember the final straw was that I just woke up and I didn't remember what had happened like blackout drunk I still enjoy that feeling of waking up and not remembering like how I got to bed not remembering what I did thinking did I do something stupid So like I wasn't like a good drunk And and then yeah I was like I'm just gonna give this up

Micha Smith:

Yeah I think I mean I remember when I was younger being more of an angry drunk I like to think I'm usually a pretty happy one now although you know there are occasions But I think part of that's just about maturity You know when you're young and you're drinking too much it's you're just not mature enough to to handle it

Niall Mackay:

you know I just I was doing stupid things and didn't want We have that feeling we can up every morning And so I was like Right I'm just gonna give it up And then luckily I mean to be I think it was 15 months I went without a drop But I was living in Rhode Island on a summer camp like at during the year like during the winter So there was like nobody there 64 acres me and one other person I didn't have a lot of temptation There wasn't much like come and have a beer So that helped

Micha Smith:

so the longest I've ever gone without drinking was five months and I broke my fast with a with a bottle of c And I was feeling it after like two sips So that first beer you had after a year and a half where you it get on top of you

Niall Mackay:

I can't specifically remember but yeah I do But like you're talking about the maturity like after that and even now to this day I was just much a more mature drinker Like I to the point where I would measure out my whiskeys and I would you know when I was at home and outta whiskey with friends And then even going out I would just I wouldn't really ever get blackout drunk again I was just that after that I was just I felt like a mature drinker Like I can go out and handle having drinks without having to get belligerently drunk but I still got belligerently drunk sometimes

Alex Violette:

So when when your your drinking shifted from something that that maybe you weren't happy with into a way that you feel like it fits into your wife at that point did your choice in what you wanted to drink change as well

Niall Mackay:

Yeah definitely I think I became a more discerning drinker because Because I'd matured and I was not wanting to drink to get blackout drunk so like Yeah exactly I was thinking about like the whiskey I would drink I started drinking gin and tonics for the first time and and nice beer as well You know that's when I think the craft boom was starting back then so we're talking back like 2007 This was so I definitely became more of a the sounding drink

Micha Smith:

Yeah I mean People drink for different reasons obviously I think enjoying your drinks is is more important to you when you as you get older you know when you're young it's just shot shot shot you're a little bit younger than me

Niall Mackay:

I'll be 40 on Monday

Micha Smith:

Oh yeah So only yeah only one year younger than me So I remember not like the moment but I remember a time in my life when craft beer was not a phrase that I was familiar with was do you remember like learning about craft beer and learning about that beers can be different in artisanal at some point in your life

Niall Mackay:

Yeah I'm I think first I don't know for you first it was Belgian Bees That was the big thing in in Glasgow and then even around the world it was like the Belgian beer Cafe that was like the big place to go to go and get a different type of beer And then I moved to I lived in Rhode Island and there was this amazing local bar in a little town called Wakefield called Theuse Tavern It was like an old horse bar or something that had been converted and they had like a massive range of I don't even know if they were cold craft bees back then but they had a massive range of craft bees So like Blue Moon was the big one we used to love Drinking blooming But I mean you know when we're hanging out we easily get a creative cools light and whatnot Like that's what you're gonna drink when you are Miller Light or whatever light beer it is that you're gonna crush at a house party But when we would go to the Muse Tavern it was always like Sam Adams as well was like pretty new And I mean there's a big debate right Whether Sam Adams is craft beer I think I've read something about that before but Sam Adams was good but I think that was a transition I don't remember the first time of being like craft beer but I remember it was like Belgian beer cafe

Alex Violette:

So when you're talking about the Belgian Beer Cafe it sounds like kind of a different experience like you're thinking about the beer Did that bleed into the conversations that you'd have with your friends when you went there Would you find yourself talking about the beers you were drinking more often than if you were somewhere else with just a Coors Light

Niall Mackay:

I'm feeling like I'm just gonna disappoint you and break your heart In our we super basic we were just enjoying the beer Like we didn't really talk about it I remember I think the only flavor I ever remember discussing was like orange p cuz we'd get like a big whole garden and it had like a coriander in orange flavor but I don't think it ever got any further than that Yeah So for me like and I never say this to Michelle A Long long time ago I'm not what I describe myself a beer enthusiast Not a be a snob or a beer geek or something like that Like I don't know how it's made I don't really understand how to describe the flavors I just really like the flavor

Micha Smith:

Yeah no for sure I mean everybody's Opinion is valid when it comes to beer Everyone has their own taste Whether you're someone who's brewed many beers or someone who's never brewed up a single beer in your life you're always comparing whatever you're drinking to all the beers you've drunk before And yeah I as a as a sales guy and also a beer enthusiast I find the whole like gate keeping snobbery that some people bring to craft beer It's really annoying Just enjoy your beer

Niall Mackay:

I do So I do remember this transition though of going from just lag like so in Scotland right We have tenants LA tenants geez garbage tenants But some people still love it It's one of these bes like anything on draft it's not It's actually quite enjoyable A cool draft tenants is not that bad A can of tenant Is disgusting And I do remember one hot summer day in Scotland which must have been like one of the one days a year we had warm tenants so we thought let's put ice in it And it was just absolutely disgusting Like undrinkable like

Micha Smith:

training for living in Saigon

Niall Mackay:

Yeah And now I think ahead where I'm like Yeah please ice can I get Lida Yeah Like now it's like I request ice in my beer at such a change but I remember so I got to Adelaide start to get really into I'd gotten into little creatures in Perth which was just like the best like you guys had little creatures right

Alex Violette:

Yeah

Niall Mackay:

now it's been bought over it by Karin isn't it It's not the same as what it was when I was there 2006 I was unbelievable Like just so good So started to get into little creatures then then moved to Adelaide where they brew Coopers And Coopers was everywhere like every bar you went into And Adelaide had Coopers on draft which wasn't quite wasn't very usual in in Australia having it on draft And I remember having actually actually my bus there I don't know which bus it was It would've been 24 25 26 I think had a house And someone got me a six pack of of beer but but like six different beers So it was like three different Coopers a whole garden a a black a I can't remember Six different ones right And then there was this there was a bunch of girls there And one of these girls she didn't really understand it like why they were all different And I I just always remember this I tried to explain it to her I lined them all up from like light to And I was like just think of it like you know they're all beer Like it's all wine but you have like red wine and you have white wine and Rose like just think of it like that And she looked at me and she went But I don't like wine

Micha Smith:

She missed the point

Niall Mackay:

Yeah

Micha Smith:

that happens

Alex Violette:

I picked up like on twice You mentioned that the beer on draft was better whether it was like the tenants or it was rare to see the Coopers and when you found the draft beer that was that made it special Right have you ever ordered your own draft beer before

Niall Mackay:

I've worked in balls Yeah Yeah I poured beer

Alex Violette:

Do you remember the first time that you poured your own

Niall Mackay:

Oh that's a good Trying to think of the first bar I worked in I can't specifically remember the first time I pulled up I remember pouring a Guinness at the Guinness factory though in in Ireland That was cool Yes In James Gates That was that was a cool experience Got my certificate and everything

Alex Violette:

It was a great experience Uh I I still remember pouring my first beer and being a brewer like that is one of the moments like I remember Oh wow I get To use the tap This is amazing Yeah because I had never been a bartender I'd been you know on the the brewing side and poured a beer out with my ator at home and that's one thing But then like I walked behind the bar at the brew pub to like test the quality and like pull the tap handle and I was like actually never done this before This is

Niall Mackay:

It's a really cool experience It is yeah I mean even so we had the Seven Million Bikes birthday party recently and Provided a keg and then we had the keg set up and then the staff didn't know how to pour a beer They'd never pull the beer So I had to show them and actually got behind the bar and was pouring some bees and it was like yeah it's a really cool thing to pour a beer to show someone else how to do it To drink it for sure

Micha Smith:

Yeah For me definitely Like I my start in f and b was always busboy and then serving So I always really respected the sanctity of like being the bartender being behind the bar Like it was a big difference for me and just like for customers I noticed like they're distrustful of servers cause they're coming over But the bartender they're like they they respect the shit outta the bartender Like that guy he must know what he's talking about He's he's the big man behind the bar or you know big lady so yeah I

Niall Mackay:

especially North America I think

Micha Smith:

Yeah a hundred percent I remember when I was in school and I I'd been working in restaurants for a while university not not high school but no I had some friends who like they were always broke and I always had money I was making good tips working on the weekends They're like Oh you know if I need money I'll just get a bartending job somewhere I'm like They don't just give those out Like you can't just you've never worked in a bar before and you think you're just gonna get a bartending job

Niall Mackay:

It's it's a it's a lot of work It is a lot of work And it's one of these jobs as well like any food and beverage job most of the work is not done when people are in the bar Right It's like the setup getting the bar stop It's the cleanup afterwards Like it looks fun when you like see someone behind the bar pooling pints making drinks chatting with people but like that's only for a few hours The rest of it is busting your

Micha Smith:

right So yeah I remember one time hearing Seon I'm not gonna say who it was but we were at a a bar it was a friend of mine visiting from outta town And the bartender was busy but like he was visibly flustered like just and my friend was like Oh he's he's he's a really good bartender And I'm like No he's a bad bartender Because if I was doing that I'd be doing it faster and I wouldn't be flustered and like he makes it look hard I would be able to make it look easy That was just cuz I have more experience behind the bar But

Alex Violette:

that works though I remember one time At a brew pub back in the United States we had like the kitchen was crashing It was just the food was not coming out They were just way backed up And I remember just talking to the servers and the bartenders I'm like Just look really stressed out And and it works Like all of the customers were like Oh they're working Like they seem really stressed out They're trying their best to get get the food out on time And and it is subtle but but that works

Micha Smith:

It's definitely a tactic I used to use sometimes back in the day Yeah If you just look really annoyed while you're walking through your section they're like Oh I don't wanna bother him He looks like he's got a lot on his mind

Niall Mackay:

one of the things being a bartender in the uk I don't know if there's so much in in America in Scotland especially is you have to make sure that the beer you serve is filled to the top of the If it is not filled to the top they're gonna hand it back and it's almost the same thing every time Ask for a pint please

Micha Smith:

right

Niall Mackay:

And then you make gotta make sure you top it up

Alex Violette:

I would say in the US if you return your pint to the bartender and say it's not full enough you're probably gonna be waiting 20 minutes for your next beer

Niall Mackay:

totally different than Yeah I mean in the UK you're like Oh so I'm so sorry And you immediately top it up

Micha Smith:

Yeah I've had uh Australian customers come up here in Saigon and complain if there's a reasonable amount ahead They want it like like you're saying to the to the tippy top of the

Niall Mackay:

Yeah Yeah

Micha Smith:

All right bud

Niall Mackay:

I think they've they've probably learned it from us

Micha Smith:

I just want to get that on record Niall just said that Australians do things that they've learned from British Okay They don't have a culture of their

Niall Mackay:

No

Micha Smith:

Please send your complaints to Niall at Seven Million Bikes

Niall Mackay:

Dot com Yeah no worries I'll take them no Yeah so craft beer is just once I get exposed to it though um yeah I could say it's been like a love affair When I when I actually think about it like everywhere I go it's literally like where are we gonna get craft beer Like we just went to Thailand for the first time three years we left Vietnam One of the first things we do is like look up the craft beer bars Where are we gonna go and drink Where's a different place that we're gonna drink different beer

Micha Smith:

Yeah I love hearing stories like that Obviously like you know before Covid a lot of tourists came they would search craft beer Vietnam and then they would just find our tap room and come in and and then like obviously it's easier now They're a lot more options But I remember back in the day when we were first starting you know it was only a few other places that we Like recommend to go to after they came to our tap room So it's awesome Now with all the beer crafts all the other breweries that there's so many great options for craft beer in Vietnam

Niall Mackay:

Well that was my story Remember I came to v and m 2015 on a holiday and I went to past street There was only one at time The original tap room Yeah of course The first That's the first thing we did when we got here Well the first thing we did was have a bababa Gotta have a cultural experience but yeah first craft beer and like you said probably the only craft beer at the time

Alex Violette:

Yeah When when I travel I not only enjoy going to craft breweries to try the different beers you know obviously but it it's almost like a 99% success rate that like the people that work there are gonna be cool and give you an introduction to where you are and that the other guests there are gonna be cool and wanna share a story or an experience with you and That's a great way to travel I think it's like a safe bet when you go somewhere find a craft brewery and you know that it will be some level of a positive experience

Niall Mackay:

Mm That is true Yeah No it's definitely like craft beer bar like I mentioned little creatures And we've kinda talked about this before drinking craft beer or even what I'm seeing about a social event It's like an experience So like I would love to go back to Pearl and anytime I went back to Pearls it was just all that was like in my head Like we're going to little creatures we're gonna get the spicy muscles we're gonna set out the back at Sunset we're gonna drink Little Creatures ipa Oh they've got a new ipa Like you know and and just it's an experience

Micha Smith:

Sure So I did

Niall Mackay:

did

Micha Smith:

ask about that You said they they got acquired and then the beer wasn't as good anymore

Niall Mackay:

good at all It's

Micha Smith:

are you sure

Niall Mackay:

I'm sure I'm a hundred percent sure Are you sure It's just No no

Micha Smith:

the beer didn't live up to your nostalgia

Niall Mackay:

No I'm a hundred percent sure It it got like it got bigger and I remember we were in Sydney and we got a bottle of little creatures I was so excited I was like little creatures in a bottle Now again bottle was different to tap Maybe but no But then we went back to the brewery like a little while after and had a beer and it was just yeah it just it wasn't and I do remember the flavors It just wasn't as floral It wasn't as punt like it was it was specifically I was like This does not taste as good as it used to taste And I was like I mean that's what happens when it went from like a small independent one of brewery to a mass produced owned by a massive corporation

Micha Smith:

it's really funny I I have the totally opposite experience It's very specific but the brew pub I worked at in Toronto was Mill Street Brewery I was there the first summer that they were open as a pub and then after I moved to Vietnam I was sitting at Art Taper one day and I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw that Mill Street announced that they'd been acquired by Labat which is the massive Canadian and it was just a thousand comments So fuck you guys You sold that I'm never drinking your beer again Blah blah blah And about a year later I was back in Toronto for the first time I had a layover at the airport and I found a Mill Street brewery pub in the airport Like from where it started I was like This is amazing And I tried some of the beers that I had remembered some of my old favorites And when I worked there like there were 13 beers and like four of them were really good and then the rest were kind of okay so I tried some of the old beers I had and they tasted just as good and I tried some of the new beers And they were awesome as well So it was like you know they did it the right way They they got an investment and they put it back into the company and worked on developing new beers new recipes new labels all that And that's the The beers got better

Niall Mackay:

Well that's good Yeah I mean it can happen Obviously My experience with this one I was very disappointing Fair

Micha Smith:

Life's all about

Niall Mackay:

tainted the brand for me But before that yeah it was just that it was like had such a special place in my Like you know and then so just and then you've made me really think about how much craft beer has at a big place in my life Cuz everywhere it goes the craft beer bar get friendly with the brewers or the people that make it And when we were in New Zealand massive kinda part of the beer community they've just had another beer van there So there and we used to go there every year They have it in the stadium so they've got a massive it's called the Cake Tin is a nickname cuz it literally is just a big circular cake Kicked in and

Alex Violette:

funny in New Zealand

Niall Mackay:

maybe And uh yeah it kicked in if you wanna anyway Yeah so it's all the craft breweries go there We even volunteered one year working at Car Brewing which had an amazing coconut porter and it's just thousands of people over three days just getting absolutely smashed on craft beer

Alex Violette:

No No it's amazing Like you go anywhere in the world and you can walk into a craft brewery and you know that it's gonna be accepting on some level and you're gonna have a a good time while you're there Like you can share a story they'll they'll be open they'll be a friend Like it is really I think great for for building a community It's like the the community pub you know where you go in and you're all there to talk about beer and be friendly and it's a great way to like travel or visit or just get engaged with your community

Niall Mackay:

the name of the podcast right is Beer Stories And now as we are talking I'm just one after the other In my head I'm just remembering like I have so many pure stories like is that good or bad That's such a big part of my life But I'm thinking like even in New Zealand I played with a a football team just and it was a pub team sponsored by Craft Brewery called Sprigg and Film and they had one in Nelson We were in Wellington so cross taman and we'd go over cross go over once a year and play a friendly against the other pub team go to the brewery or the tap room You know share bes and just such a great experience

Micha Smith:

for our North American listeners Friendly is a soccer match

Niall Mackay:

exhibition match you guys would call it in North America A friendly a meaningless game Exhibition match and semifinals

Micha Smith:

So Alex you said something interesting before and I wanna just get back to it You said When you go into a craft brewery or brew pub in a new country 99% of the time you're gonna have this awesome welcoming friendly experience I wanna talk about the 1%

Alex Violette:

The 1% the 1% that that we should not name names but we can talk about And that 1% is when you walk in And there's a lot of um there's definitions on what is craft beer and there's like metrics for different things how big you are or what ingredients you use But that 1% is when you walk in and you just know it You know that this isn't here because somebody's happy about making the beer and trying to build an experience You see this is somebody's paycheck This was just like the either a laundry mat or a brew pub to put in the corner of this building and they chose brew pub And you can just see it on people's faces and and it's unfortunate you know you hate seeing that sort of thing but but it is is 1% It's very rare that you have an experience

Micha Smith:

Absolutely For me I mentioned it before like the the gate keeping and the snobbery that some people in the industry have is a real turn off And if you're at a place in the just when people are arrogant instead like there's a difference between being proud of what you're doing which I think we all are and being really arrogant about it I'm like Hey man I love your beers Like Yeah of course Like why would you instead of Thank you Just yeah come on now

Niall Mackay:

this also what do you guys think There's a there's a little bit of sexism as well I In craft beer and I'll give an example and then you can agree or disagree Well do I'm just thinking again back to New Zealand We were at this beer festival in a big field so like literally I'm not even kidding It was our favorite day of the year Like we couldn't wait You'd go up over the room tuck as a big mountain just beer in a field for a day Right And we were waiting in lane and U was looking at all the bes on the menu And she loves like IPAs She loves sellers And then this guy behind what was the beer he suggesting I can't even remember it He is like Can I tapped on He is like You should get this one And it was just like the lowest strength weakest beer And she was like You not No I think I'll get the double i p Thank you very much

Micha Smith:

Yeah no a hundred percent I mean I'm drinking a our passion fruit wheat right now and I still hear it around the country and around Saigon It's like Oh that'll be good for the ladies Right I'm like it's just a light refreshing awesome tasting beer We don't make beers for women or men We just make awesome beers Anyone can enjoy time

Niall Mackay:

She she even got it recently We were somewhere I can't remember the guy was at the menu He was like Oh this one's for I've seen it on the menu here as well They actually have a Section four ladies But yeah I've absolutely seen that like says Four Lady and Enlists a bunch of like

Micha Smith:

So the only time we've ever done something like that is just to have fun with it For like Valentine's Day will like Every lady gets a free lady's beer It's the 13% chocolate stout cuz ladies love chocolate Just kind of turn Turn Yeah Turn it on its head a little bit Um but for sure I mean obviously there's sexism in the craft beer industry There's sexism in life Like it's it's not particular to the industry and I think a lot of people are doing a lot of work to make it better just on a on a note The head brewer at Turtle Lake up in Hanoi She's a Vietnamese lady Thomas's head brewer at Fer Brew She's a Vietnamese lady our head brewer under Alex she's a Vietnamese lady Like there are a lot of Vietnamese ladies getting into craft beer and making really good beers Obviously we're very proud of ours Turtle Lake right now I think is making the most interesting beers up in Hanoi They're doing a great job You know like anything else it's just giving people opportunities and then having talented people take those opportunities And right now a lot of young Vietnamese brewers are are women which is great

Niall Mackay:

awesome

Micha Smith:

Yeah

Niall Mackay:

And I've heard about things like this as well I know even in previous breweries I've mentioned lots of females involved but I'm also meaning more like the customers are kind of like you're talking about That snobbish

Alex Violette:

Yeah Yeah I I think I I see a connection for for me at least with what you guys are talking about and if you get too many guys in the same place it's gonna turn into a sn You know sort of beer bar like there's not conversations going on about like life and dynamics and I I like this beer and this is how it relates to me It's like you don't smell that hop Wait you can't smell that I can smell that I can tell exactly what variety that is I can't believe you don't know this I I can't I can't believe they didn't even know that the style guidelines dictate that it should be at least 8% for this style Like you know like I think that happens when you get like you're you're you're nerdy about it but then you get nerdy and there's just a whole bunch of guys and like you have nothing else to do And they're just like Well let's just pick this beer apart for no other reason And and yeah in Vietnam like You know like any other place there's like a mix of like guys and girls drinking and I think it's really cool to see like at our tap rooms I'm sure a lot of other places like we have more female guests than male And and you'll see a lot of tables of just like eight eight girls going out and you're just thinking like why why is that happening And it's like well it's kind of a safe place If you go to a crap brewery you're you're not signing yourself up to be hit on 15 times per hour and then have your you know like you can you can have your space you can sit there and enjoy an experience And it's the the culture of the atmosphere I guess like the the whole vibe is that is this not appropriate to go up and just like interject you know but if you sit at a taller table or you sit at the bar then you're kind of like signaling Hey come talk to me but if you're at a you can sit at a table enjoy the experience and then have your space and that's probably a cool experience If other places to drink beer like you don't get to have space

Niall Mackay:

That's I've never really thought about that And now I'm thinking in my head like it would be so weird to see a guy go up and talk to a random female in a craft beer bottle Like it would just be so out of place You'd be like What are you doing now Go sit With your group and but like another bar that would be totally normal to like commingle and talk to other people And it's

Alex Violette:

but if they're at the bar it's okay There's like there's like this code like if you're sitting at the bar you want a conversation If you're at a table with a group like you're having an experience with your table and like and that's generally respected with the guests that come in for the most part

Micha Smith:

I feel like I agree with you a hundred percent but I I feel like there's also just a different quality to the kind of conversation you would have if you were like leaning over and talking to the girls at the next set Because you would talk about the beer You wouldn't be like chatting them up trying Hey babe Sorry I can't have a bad flight Hey babe What do you know about hops But no definitely like you would just have a conversation about the beers that I'm drinking or you're drinking or whatever It would be a more natural conversation and not like this kind of forced like come here often

Niall Mackay:

I don't have pickup lanes but I still think that would probably be the only one I would have I wouldn't know what else to see Do you come here often I'd be That's all I got well it is both

Micha Smith:

so you haven't had to try any chat up

Niall Mackay:

even before then I don't think I ever used outline And if I did I was probably like Hey come here often I don't know why

Micha Smith:

Well that's why I like hanging out at our tap rooms cuz I've got a built in Do you know who I am

Niall Mackay:

Do you not just, do you not just sit with like a picture of you behind you I think

Micha Smith:

Hey see my picture on the wall

Niall Mackay:

They just wait until they say Is that is that you That's you Yeah Oh yeah That's

Alex Violette:

It just pulls out a printed sheet of paper Have you read my expose Kind of a big deal

Micha Smith:

It was funny actually just last night I was out to the place and this couple foreign guy in a Vietnamese girl And he's like Yeah my girlfriend said that you're the founder of Pastor Street And she was too nervous to come say hi So I'm just showing her how easy to say hi I was like Yeah hey I'm not the founder You know I started whatever And he is like Oh that's cool Yeah I don't really like craft beers Right

Alex Violette:

Great talk

Niall Mackay:

Where do you

Micha Smith:

So she was

Niall Mackay:

drinking with

Micha Smith:

It was a double IPA from our friends at Brewing Company

Niall Mackay:

That's a good one The rhino

Micha Smith:

Yeah The yeah the Alb Rhino And I'm like Oh this Because he he was saying something about the selection and I was like Oh we're drinking the same me and your lady Like it's a good one He takes one sip He's like Yeah it's not good Yeah no he is like Well but I'm bel so

Niall Mackay:

So that's like gatekeeper right Like

Micha Smith:

Hundred percent Yeah

Niall Mackay:

I'm Belgium so I'm a gatekeeper of Of good

Micha Smith:

yeah yeah yeah No just saying where you're from and assuming that gives you credentials is is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard

Alex Violette:

So there's a uh tattoo festival later today Need to like select the the tattoos that we're gonna get If you're getting a beer tattoo you have to get a tattoo and it has to be beer themed What is it

Niall Mackay:

See I'm really unimaginative The first thing that comes to mind is just a frothy paint of beer Is that is that unimaginative enough I mean that's pretty boring. Yeah

Alex Violette:

not here to judge your imagination.

Niall Mackay:

I'm not good I'm not Yeah you go I'm not good with things like

Micha Smith:

I think that's a pretty standard like and there's nothing wrong with it that kid Hugh that used to work for us he had he had that but he also had like a tap handle I thought was pretty cool yeah I don't have a beer tattoo yet

Alex Violette:

So it's not There's not a can or a bottle It's solidly draft It's a it's a pint or a tap Um

Micha Smith:

Alex is always thinking on a different level than the rest Yes No a hundred percent Yeah It would be a a draft glass mug of beer Yeah

Niall Mackay:

I mean there is nothing better than a draft beer I bought was in Kansas don't don't do it It's not It's a totally different experience I

Micha Smith:

Well so that's Sorry You're right The experience is different but obviously every brewer in the world is trying to make the can in the bottle taste as similar to the draft as possible And for some beers it's actually quite easy For some others it's it doesn't translate as well but I think what you're describing is definitely the experience of drink the occasion of drinking not necessarily the taste cuz I think this beer tastes the same in a can or a bottle or on tap But also I would enjoy it more fresh from the tap cuz of the experience of like sitting up at the bar elbows on the bar good music in the background everybody around talking enjoying themselves

Niall Mackay:

So referencing the taste I had you know one of probably one of my favorite bees of Pastel Street is the PME ipa and I had that recently in a bottle and I couldn't even drink it It was so sweet It it was like a different beer I was like Oh this is not the PO IPA that I love So that, that shocked me Like that was one of the most stark differences I've ever had between a draft and a a bottle

Micha Smith:

I That's interesting Cause I I think that's incredibly

Niall Mackay:

consistent Really It might have been a bad different I think because it

Micha Smith:

you leave it out in the sun for too long

Niall Mackay:

No I've just got a fresh from Pastel Street Outcast I think it makes a difference cuz you know it's got the neck is like narrow Really changes the flavor best is like a big pin No you're

Alex Violette:

No I I love this like you you have all of these reasons You're like it must be because of the neck That's why it tastes different And as a brewer like I got you know like almost like exhausted at one point Doing like Hey I'm gonna give you a blind taste test and here's the bottle here's the can here's the draft And yeah nobody can tell the difference And but they're like No but they are different And I just got like kind of exhausted at one point like going through this exercise over and over and just said Why am I pushing against this They are different The experience is part of drinking the beer When you see it being poured when you see it coming to the table that sets your expectation for how it's going to taste and why discount that from the experience of drinking a beer It's it's it is as much there as like the type of hop that you use So after you know like talking about like no they actually taste the same or we use the same process or if I give you a blind taste test you couldn't tell the difference Nobody does a blind drinking at their I'm gonna go to the store and close my eyes and just pick up a random beer and then take it home and not look at it and then just enjoy No like the seeing it and setting your expectation is as much a part of it And I think that a lot of times that goes back to draft beer and there's this the sense of fresh and the sense of It made in front of you almost like when a mixologist you know whips up this cocktail and you're like This is made just for me It's like they pull the tap and pour the beer and it's just for you they're for me that that's as much as part of the beer flavor as the actual ingredients

Niall Mackay:

So if you have a can or a bottle of be and then you pour it into a glass drinking it direct from the can tastes different to to drinking it from the glass Surely the vessel it comes in affects the

Alex Violette:

Yeah I mean like it that It has to intuitively make sense at some point that if you drink something where you put your whole like mouth and nose into a cup smelling the beverage and then the other one you put your nose against like a piece of aluminum and smell that while you're drinking something out of a can Like there's a different experience It's probably the same for Coca-Cola or the you know the same for for anything that you would drink out of a can versus getting you know out of a fountain But it's not that the beer tastes different the experience or the vessel is different I I think so I don't think there's a need to agree or

Niall Mackay:

does

Alex Violette:

I was just kind of

Niall Mackay:

what I'm just I'm just thinking so the the physical beer is the same so I'm not saying that the beer is different I guess so I'm agreeing with you yet but the experience is different Like the flavor is different from drinking out a bottle to drinking out of

Alex Violette:

Yeah I think maybe.

Niall Mackay:

into glass or drinking it in a

Alex Violette:

What I'm saying is that the the experience is a much as much a part of the flavor as the hops or the barley that you put into the

Micha Smith:

No I mean for sure like if you're drinking a beer straight from a bottle you're gonna be able to have that sensation of of a glass bottle And if you're drinking a beer straight from a can like said you know your nose is right up against the aluminum like same like food drinks everything like you you smell It's also uh, we used to talk about like tasting with your You know like when you s when you see it come out like it it changes it every all of our senses are

Niall Mackay:

No the the things the studies I've read with like the coffee tastes different depending on the color of the cup that it's served in And I dunno if you've seen things like if you eat seafood and you have headphones on I've seen it There's there's an experiment on that and they play like the sound of waves in your eels The food tastes so tail so

Micha Smith:

it's here Okay

Niall Mackay:

Yeah So like this sensory experie Completely changes what you

Alex Violette:

And I think with food like you generally accept that you know the coffee doesn't actually taste different You know it's your perception of the cup You're not thinking that the bean was different in this one but with beer you're like the beer is different

Niall Mackay:

That's good point

Micha Smith:

Those are the only kinds he makes

Alex Violette:

for for me that's very interesting to to think about is that would like something that's more common Like you have coffee every day it's mass consumption It's all of the different levels of quality are clearly defined The different types of service styles are clearly defined The price point is very um competitive in a lot of ways and You you value the experience a lot of times but then with, with beers you're like No it must be just the beer quality The experience doesn't you know like it is almost easier to discount it in some way I can't put my finger on exactly what that is but it seems like it's there at some level There's always a lot of conversations that this beer tastes different than the last batch Or the bottle is better than the can or the can is better than the bottle or draft beer The only way

Niall Mackay:

The only time that applies is if you've previously brewed Doreen Beer in the keg

Alex Violette:

Yeah Not a not a great experience.

Micha Smith:

Are we gonna talk about the beer on every on every episode

Niall Mackay:

that needs to be a reoccurring theme Makes me laugh so much.

Micha Smith:

We usually do factor fiction at the end so factor fiction Niall Mackay You once were part owner of a brewery

Niall Mackay:

Fact

Micha Smith:

You wanna talk about that just a little

Niall Mackay:

just a little bit Yep Crowd funding had just started in New Zealand and the first ever crowd funding offer was for a craft brewery called Renaissance Renaissance Depends how you pronounce it

Micha Smith:

Renaissance

Niall Mackay:

And

Micha Smith:

motherfucker think

Niall Mackay:

Renaissance Well cuz you're from North America we say Renaissance and my wife's not American and we disagree on that Said But anyway regardless of how you say it we lost our money We went to the investor meeting they were like Oh you know Kickstarter crowd funding And the Kickstarter for us was if you don't if not donated if you invested over$2,000 you got a free creative beer every year for life So we were like Yeah let's do it So we did 2000 New Zealand dollars and about 18 18 months later it wound up and we lost our investment and we actually left after New Zealand after the first year of getting a free crate So every there was two more years I think after We just had to give that away So we invested$2,000 for one Creative B basically

Micha Smith:

Not your best

Niall Mackay:

Never again Oh those been worse but we'll talk about that

Alex Violette:

Was it

Micha Smith:

the

Alex Violette:

Again

Niall Mackay:

They were really good Yeah it was really good well the kicker was that they sold all the IP and then just reopened again under the same name making the same deals with the same staff All the investors lost out

Alex Violette:

sounds like the 1%

Micha Smith:

Yes

Niall Mackay:

Yeah it's good

Alex Violette:

Sorry about that okay It was factor fiction let's see craft beer has different ingredients than mainstream beer and that's what makes them different

Niall Mackay:

Fiction It's the same pieces right

Micha Smith:

speak confidently

Niall Mackay:

Yeah. Yeah. No I'm thinking of as it gets all water or hot smoke And Bali right Is German purity laws We're gonna go down that route

Micha Smith:

Rhine. Hein Sheba The Rhine Hein

Niall Mackay:

and then craft beer adds more stuff to Right Yeah but more Some more sometimes Yeah

Micha Smith:

Those are called adjuncts

Niall Mackay:

Every day is a learning day

Alex Violette:

Third

Micha Smith:

Uh, okay The factor fiction beer tastes better depending on who you're drinking it with

Niall Mackay:

Fiction

Micha Smith:

You think

Alex Violette:

Well this question just obviously doesn't have an objectively true or false answers

Niall Mackay:

It's not really a fact of fiction If I get questioned on my answer

Micha Smith:

I find that my beer tastes better if I'm sitting next to a beautiful woman

Niall Mackay:

yes

Micha Smith:

I'm joking

Niall Mackay:

The B tastes better when I'm with you

Micha Smith:

Shout it to your wife

Alex Violette:

fact or fiction Paleo is Miesha's favorite style of beer

Niall Mackay:

Fiction

Micha Smith:

That's correct

Niall Mackay:

What is it though Double ipu

Micha Smith:

IPAs Yeah

Niall Mackay:

Yeah

Micha Smith:

IPAs encompass double IPAs and session IPAs and Yeah yeah I mean I'm I'm a big Sour beer fan Guinness is probably my all time favorite beer so you know Irish stouts but yeah Oh that leads me to another good one You've been to Ireland

Niall Mackay:

Yes

Micha Smith:

Factor fiction Guinness tastes better in Ireland than anywhere else in the world

Niall Mackay:

Fact only cuz I don't really think of drunk much Guinness outside of Ireland to be honest But I do remember when I was there

Micha Smith:

Yeah

Niall Mackay:

drank a lot of Guinness

Micha Smith:

yeah No I agree So I used to drink a lot of Guinness when I was living in Toronto And there was this one little Irish pub where it was just old Irish guys sitting in the bar drinking Guinness all day every day And that was the best Guinness I ever had in Toronto cuz just the lines were so fresh the the beers were turning over so quickly And then when I went to Ireland everyone was like Oh the best Guinness And of course it was it was better there in Ireland cuz literally everyone's drinking Guinness everywhere But the fiction for me was that it tastes better at certain pubs in Ireland It tasted the exact same everywhere and it tasted great everywhere but it We were in Belfast and someone was like Oh you gotta go to Whites Tavern It's the best pin of Guinness you'll ever have in your life I was like Yeah go to Whites Tavern oldest pub in Belfast and Guinness tasted great but it tasted exactly the same as every other pub in Ireland that I went to

Niall Mackay:

I do remember the Guinness World now You've mentioned that the Guinness was amazing That's all we drank the whole time we

Micha Smith:

hundred percent Yeah Yeah No time for gin tos

Niall Mackay:

No no that's all Don't waste your time with that

Alex Violette:

I love Guinness

Micha Smith:

Yes

Alex Violette:

No that's great like I'm I'm a math guy right And and I love that that like there are contributions like to math like via trying to refine the brewing process and and inventing some very like key formulas that you use in statistics out of like their research into brewing beer And like the same at you know Carlsberg with like identifying these different types of yeast strains and like being the first to like run a PCR assay and like separate out like the different genomes and say there's differences between these logger strains And both both Guinness and like Carlsberg had made these like really cool contributions to just general science out of researching how to make beer And for me like that's a really cool aspect of Guinness Every time I think about Guinness I think of the student's tea tester you know But it is great Like that's that's a cool culture and spirit you know like that We are gonna literally invent math to make our beer better Well invent a type of a type of doing math like for the purpose of making better beer That's pretty cool

Niall Mackay:

you when I did show that Irish Sports Bar Rabbit Hole Irish Sports Bar and they had you know young Nitro Irish And I was like Ah they don't even have Guinness here but don't worry they got the Nitro Irish out It's it's better than Guinness Anyway

Micha Smith:

thinks bold

Niall Mackay:

I think it just kinda came out my well kinda just like came out my mouth you know I'm on stage I think I said it's nearly as good as Guinness if not better Something like that And then there's a group of Irish guys right in the front row They're like Oh oh well yeah I was like right Okay Okay Okay Sorry I to like backtrack my my statement

Micha Smith:

as as a massive Guinness fan I would never say that any Irish do that we make would be better than Guinness Okay It's it's a it's a really

Niall Mackay:

Yeah. Yeah.

Micha Smith:

Niall factor fiction Alex loves Guinness

Niall Mackay:

fact

Micha Smith:

Good work Just seeing if he was listening

Alex Violette:

that's true

Niall Mackay:

But not for the taste for the maths

Micha Smith:

And for the taste

Niall Mackay:

for the tastes He tastes the maths as he's

Micha Smith:

the experience Let's go out on that For the experience for the craft

Niall Mackay:

crafting

Micha Smith:

Niall thanks for stepping outside your comfort zone and being the interviewee

Niall Mackay:

Thank you for having me I love talking about beer I know Normally I could just keep talking about beer all days

Micha Smith:

obviously you've edited a lot of podcasts where you were the host Is it like really normal to hear your own voice now or does it still get inside your head when you're doing the

Niall Mackay:

I'm really I'm such a strange person Like I don't mind the sound of my own voice at all Click

Micha Smith:

Arrogant

Niall Mackay:

I don't I don't like seeing it It sounds like you're really arrogant because it's one of these things people like I don't like to sound in my own voice and I'm like It's just so normal to me to

Micha Smith:

Yeah I I've I've done enough podcasts now recently that I'm I'm used I'm used to hearing my voice

Alex Violette:

Thanks for being so awesome.

Niall Mackay:

Thank you I know No thank you for having me I love talking about beer and I'm excited that we're making this podcast.

Micha Smith:

All right So this has been beer stories Thank you to our guest Niall Mackay check out his podcast as well Thanks to Lewis Wright for uh, our theme music Thanks as always to my Alex Violet and thank you for listening