Editor’s note: This is Fingers’ last newsletter of the year. Have a wonderful, safe holiday. I’ll see you on the other side!—Dave.
For 2021 and much of 2022, I cohosted a biweekly-ish Twitter Spaces session called Beer Byliners with Kate Bernot (Good Beer Hunting, Craft Beer & Brewing) and Jessica Infante (Brewbound) about the latest headlines and happenings in the American beer industry. It was an opportunity for us to decompress as reporters and shoot the shit as friends in a pretty low-stakes format with a few dozen familiar faces from across the beverage-alcohol landscape—sources, analysts, fellow journalists, et cetera. Byliners was lots of fun, but we all got busy, and eventually it felt like it’d run its course, plus our audience seemed to be less interested in listening to Twitter Spaces than they had been earlier in the pandemic. (Judging by Clubhouse’s nosedive, and Spaces’ own struggles, the feeling was pretty widespread regarding “social audio” generally!) So we let it sorta peter out at the end of the summer. No big deal.
But! For The Fingers Podcast’s last episode of 2022 (and maybe ever; see below), I rounded up my fellow Beer Byliners for one last job/recording, exclusively for paying Friends of Fingers. The result, recorded in mid-December, is something of a speedrun through the past year in beer, covering such tectonic shifts, high-dollar lawsuits, and run-of-the-mill shitshows as:
The social-media crucifixion of Beer Jesus!
Thank U, Bud Light Next / Hard Mtn.
Dew, Look at Those Sales Figures!
Blue Cloud, human-trafficking, Reyes Rules Everything Around Me, and other middle-tier beer fears!
Stone vs. Keystone, the trade-dress trial of the 21st century (so far)!
The “broke Southwest Airlines customer” approach to entering new markets!
Jordan Peterson, beverage-alcohol litigant?!
And so much more!
As an added bonus, I also challenged my fellow Beer Byliners to name a now-defunct beverage-alcohol brand that they believe would sell well if it was reintroduced to the American drinking public in 2023. Their answers may surprise you; mine, probably not so much. I had a blast talking to two of the sharpest minds covering the beverage-alcohol business, and feel lucky to call Kate and Jess colleagues and friends. Hope you enjoy our conversation! (NB: if my Jordan Peterson impression knots your stomach with unspeakable dread, good, that means it’s working.)
The Fingers Podcast is a paid-subscriber bonus. Please consider buying a subscription to access the entire episode archive, and to support independent journalism about drinking in America!
As for the future of The Fingers Podcast: it’s up in the air! Frankly, I’m not sure what to do with it. I love the opportunity to get deep and nerdy across disciplines with fascinating people from the booze world and beyond, but based on the pod’s modest downloads, I get the sense that the Fingers Fam just isn’t sure what to make of it, either. From an operational standpoint, publishing long-form interviews every month or so isn’t converting free readers to paid the way I hypothesized it might. As it stands, the work that goes into booking, prepping, and conducting the interviews, then editing the episodes, just costs too much time and effort for the payoff. I also don’t have the bandwidth to increase episode frequency to try to might improve performance and conversions, so it’s sorta stuck in purgatory. I’ve learned that independent media is all about tradeoffs, and my calculus has shifted a lot on The Fingers Podcast since I started publishing it. Hmm.
For the immediate future, I’m going to take a break from recording any new episodes for a couple months and brainstorm some new approaches to audio. I’ve got an idea that I’ve been chewing on for the past few months that I’m excited about, and will hopefully have a pilot episode or two to share with you in Spring 2023. In the meantime, paying Friends of Fingers can continue to access every episode via their private feed or the web archive. I love the medium, and I think a Fingers audio component could be really compelling to current and prospective Friends of Fingers alike… but in its current form, it’s just too much of a lift for your fearless Fingers editor to produce with the consistency and quality you deserve. So back to the drawing board we go.