Beer Hear!

The "Should I Drink That?" podcast brings the joy of craft beers to listeners' ears.

For St. Patrick’s Day and every day throughout the year, a puzzle perplexes the palates of beer-loving Pittsburghers: “Should I drink that?” Fortunately, two brew-wise guys provide the answer with an entertaining, educational podcast.

Douglas Derda (a.k.a. Father Spoon) and Brad Brown (a.k.a. sickpuppy) met in 1998 while working at FORE Systems. They discovered a mutual love of “craft beers,” which are lesser-known beers from microbreweries.

In March 2006 they decided to start sharing their knowledge and vast, expansive, selfless beer-drinking experience with anyone who would listen. More than 600,000 downloads later, “Should I Drink That?” (or, as it is known, SIDT) has garnered what Derda calls “a passionate, unique group of rabid fans, from beginners to hard-core aficionados, who cheer us when we’re right and let us have it when we’re wrong.”

Fans aren’t the only ones who recognize SIDT’s quality. The show was a finalist for two national podcast awards and was featured in DRAFT Magazine, a leading consumer beer journal.

It’s fun listening to SIDT and illuminating to hear about the array of craft-beer varieties and flavors on the market. In each episode the guys talk about several beers, comparing the characteristics of each and giving their (sometimes conflicting) opinions. Some of their most popular episodes are live events taped at beer festivals (where they interview brewery representatives) or at beer samplings at local watering holes where they can interact with their lively fans.

Like all podcasters, Derda and Brown labor for love—they’re true craft-beer evangelists. “We want people to know there are great tastes out there, beyond the typical Bud, Coors and Miller they associate with beer.” Many of the best craft beers are from western Pennsylvania, which, says Derda, “is a craft-beer destination.”

Not a day goes by, Derda reports, that he and Brown don’t get asked for a beer recommendation. “I’ll ask what they drink now, what flavors they typically like—sweet, bitter, tart? I’ll find out if they want something with high alcohol content or a ‘session beer,’ something with low alcohol. We can always find something for them to enjoy.”

A big hit on the show is the SIDT “Drunk Dial Hotline.” Knowing that some people tend to make regrettable phone calls to girlfriends, bosses and others while under the influence, Derda and Brown set up a hotline and invited listeners to drunk dial them instead. The results, Derda says, can be hilarious. Other highlights are their “chug challenge” videos and reactions to less-than-stellar brews. (Their motto, in fact, is, “Even if it’s crap, we drink it so you don’t have to.”)

But for all the fun, Derda and Brown take their beers and their relationship with their fans seriously. One of the best reactions was from a soldier from Pittsburgh stationed in Iraq. “He said listening to us, even just hearing our accent, reminded him of home and helped get him through. We were really touched by that,” Derda says.

To learn more, listen to episodes and watch videos, visit shouldidrinkthat.com.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment Features, Scoop