Dining

Get “Crafty” with your beer: San Diego’s best craft breweries featured in new web series

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There are few places in the U.S. better than San Diego for a craft beer enthusiast. For San Diego natives Grant Paulis, Aaron Mayer and Tom “T.K.” Keliinoi, however, simply drinking the beer isn’t enough. We recently sat down with the guys from the new web series to get their take on craft beer and the series they hope will enlighten the public about the great brews we have in this wonderful city.

“Craft beer is something that we’ve all loved from day one, and we’re lucky enough to come from a city where there’s no shortage of it,” claims Grant, who co-hosts and co-executive produces the show with Aaron. “But a lot of people don’t know anything about craft beer, and they’re wasting their lives drinking awful macrobrewed light beer simply because they don’t know any better. Our goal is both to raise awareness about quality beer to people who don’t know about it, as well as give experienced beer geeks a show they can love.”

So called “beer geeks” are self-proclaimed enthusiasts of craft beer with a broad base of knowledge about the brewing process, and strong opinions on what constitutes a good beer. Sit down in any tasting room or brewpub, and you’ll inevitably rub elbows with someone matching this description.

As the craft beer industry has continued to boom and expand, so has the subculture of fans, enthusiasts, and experts. In the late 1970s, there were only 44 brewing companies in the United States, and it was around this time that we began to see microbreweries start to pop up. By 1994, there were over 500 craft breweries in the U.S., and now there are over 1600. The popularity of the industry has been on a steady increase since its inception, and has retained momentum even through the recent recession.

It’s as simple as “supply and demand”. More craft breweries are a clear sign that there are more consumers out there demanding the product; and more specifically, discerning consumers.

Aaron believes that one of the biggest challenges of the series is creating something that experts won’t scoff at, without losing the interest of novice drinkers. “We’re hoping to make something that will appeal to everyone, not just expert craft beer enthusiasts. The biggest challenge is towing that line between the hardcore beer drinkers and the average Joes, but it’s not an impossible task. We just have to be interesting without dumbing it down.”

Achieving this balance is no small task, and director Tom Keliinoi does not take it lightly. T.K. believes that his experience in both sketch comedy and the television industry will help balance the show. “We don’t just want to do a straight docu-reality infomercial for a brewery every episode. No one wants to watch us just talk about yeast strains and malt for 20 minutes; it has to be entertaining too.”

For a taste of what the series is all about, check out their recent PSA on the topic:

T.K. started HotDamnTV as a sketch comedy group in 2007 and has since created over 70 sketches weighing in at an impressive 4,000,000 views online. Some noteworthy comedy names who have made humorous (albiet very brief) cameos in HotDamnTV sketches include Mega64, derrickcomedy, and even John Landis. HotDamnTV has also been featured on ABC Nightline, 105.3’s Mikey Morning Show, and numerous blogs and websites. Despite all these accolades however, T.K. almost seems to want to downplay the comedy aspect of the beer series, saying humor plays a role but never wants it to take away focus from the beer.

“Our background is reality TV and comedy, so that’s what we bring to the table. But Crafty is different from HotDamnTV’s other productions in that there’s something to it beyond just making you laugh.”

T.K. currently works freelance with Grant in Los Angeles as a camera operator for different reality TV shows. But Grant takes credit for introducing him to beer in the first place. “I introduced T.K. to craft beer right after we graduated college. He had no idea that drinkable, quality beer even existed before that,” mentions Grant. “Actually, Stone was the first place I took him, which is cool because we also went to Stone for our first episode.”

These three guys truly feel as though they have come full circle, but do not always see eye to eye on every issue. Grant and Aaron (who are also Executive Producers on the show) have very different tastes in beer which causes them to argue nearly every episode, both on camera and off.

During our interview, Grant jokingly proclaimed, “Aaron is dumb and his face is dumb. He doesn’t even like anything with an IBU over 70, which makes him a lady.” Aaron countered by exclaiming that Grant is a “little girl, and doesn’t have a sophisticated enough palate to enjoy porters or barley wines.” The boys continued to argue over who has better taste, until finally finding one point to agree upon: their guest host, Babe.

“Babe is a guest host we brought on once we realized that there were no pretty girls on our show, and no one wants to look at our ugly faces,” said Grant. “But obviously that’s not the only reason we brought her on. She has a huge base of knowledge when it comes to beer, even more than Aaron or I do. She really knows what she’s talking about.”

Babe works as a bartender in a quiet mountain town near Big Bear, and definitely seems somewhat uncomfortable with all the attention. She told us that she doesn’t have Facebook or internet, or even a cell phone. “I’m not a television person at all. But I mean, whenever I host an episode with these guys I get to drink all this great beer and they pay for it all, so that’s fine with me.”

Joking aside, it seems clear the group has been friends since long before the series began. As Grant points out, “I’ve known all these fools since college, but if we can survive a first season, we can survive anything.”

T.K. seems well aware of the reality of the open ended nature of the first season of any series. “Season 1 of any show is always a little chaotic, and for us there’s a lot of questions floating around, like how many seasons will we make? Will we make the transition from webseries to television? Is the entire series just an elaborate ruse for me to ask Carissa from Ballast Point out on a date? The answer to all of these questions is: ‘I don’t know.’ The series will continue to evolve and define itself as we shoot more episodes, and we’re confident that people will dig what we’re doing.”

One certainty for the cast and crew of Crafty is this: in a city like San Diego, they won’t soon run out of breweries to visit. But T.K. is quick to point out that the series is not limited to San Diego breweries. “Admittedly, we could do 5 seasons of this web series without leaving San Diego and never drink the same beer twice. But there’s too much beer in the world for that.”

Crafty will return to HotDamnTV on June 11th with new episodes, and previous episodes can also be viewed at HotDamnTV.com

San Diego resident for over 10 years, I now call this beautiful city home. Originally from the Bay Area, I'm a California girl at heart. I love the outdoors, fitness, food, and a good craft beer (from San Diego of course).

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