â€œI did sample the goodsâ€¦â€
-Julie Sabatier, host and producer of KBOOâ€™s â€˜DIY, Portlandâ€™
Thanks for checking out the Station Showcase with PRX. Iâ€™m Aaron Henkin, your host and curator for this weekly podcast that highlights the best and brightest stories from local public radio stations across the country. This week, we tune in to KBOO in Portland, Oregon, where radio-maker Julie Sabatier produces and hosts a monthly program called â€œDIY, Portland.â€ During a recent episode, Julie took on the enviable assignment of learning about amateur beer brewing. With technical assistance from Brian Kramer, Julie put together a profile about some local home brewers. (By the way, you can click here to find an excellent accompanying slide show!) Hereâ€™s a Q & A with Julie about what she learned along the wayâ€¦
Obvious first question for you: Did you sample the goods? How does the home brew measure up to the store-bought?
I did sample the goods, though I didn’t get to taste the wheat beer they were working on since it will still be a few weeks before it’s finished. I tried their amber ale and it was pretty tasty. It was definitely better than the watery beer brewed by big corporations, but it also has some tough competition when it comes to the microbrews in Portland.
Do you know if these guys have crunched the numbers and figured out whether or not there’s any practical economic sense to making one’s own beer?
Nate told me that when he sat down to figure it out, in terms of materials and ingredients, he could beat the price of the store-bought stuff, but if his time is worth anything at all, it fails be an economically viable thing to do.
These guys make beer-brewing sound like a remarkably simple process… did they talk much about what can go wrong along the way?
Nate emphasized the importance of keeping everything as clean as possible and paying close attention to temperatures. He said the one time he made sub-par beer it was because he used some old yeast cultures.
What do you think appeals most to these guys about putting all this time and energy into making something they could just go pick up at the corner store?
I think it’s the same reason people enjoy making elaborate meals in their own kitchen. Nate and the other brewers I spoke to for this show all enjoy cooking and this seems to be just another extension of that.
When you and I corresponded last spring, your KBOO program “DIY, Portland” had been on the air for about a year… how’s the show and your radio career been going since then?
Things are going really well. In July, we’ll celebrate our 30th episode and the show is now broadcast on a few other community radio stations around the country as well as KBOO. I started having monthly listening parties (this time, it was a listening and tasting party) at a local bar/coffee shop called the Waypost and those have been really well-attended. I also got my first grant this year and am about to take on the first “DIY, Portland” intern. In January, I got a fulltime job at our local public radio station, KOPB, producing for their morning talk show. I feel lucky that my biggest problem right now is how to squeeze as much radio work as possible into every day.Â
You can hear more stories from Julie Sabatierâ€™s KBOO program â€œDIY, Portland,â€ online at The Public Radio Exchange. Thatâ€™s where producers from around the world share their work. Log on, write your own reviews, and have a say in what ends up on the radio at: www.prx.org.