Report: Brew Masters not renewed, Bourdain says “Big beer threatened to pull ads”

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Courtesy of sifu_renka on Flickr (creative commons)

The host of one of Travel Channel’s most successful shows accused “big beer” of threatening the Discovery Channel if it kept Brew Masters on air.

Update 1: Missed a key fact in the original version of this story that Brew Masters’ sixth episode is expected to air when La Birreria (a rooftop beer garden in which Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione is involved) opens (probably in June according to the Beer and Whiskey Brothers blog). No announcements have been made about a possible second season.

Update 2: When the Beer and Whiskey Brothers pointed out its story to Dogfish Head on Twitter, “@dogfishbeer Interesting stuff on @NoReservations about what might have happened to #brewmasters: http://wp.me/pBL4g-1i0,” the brewery simply replied, “Yes.” Well, they had an opportunity to deny it. Interesting stuff indeed.]

Update 3: Sidebar link…La Birreria sneak peek on Eater NY. The online mag says that the beer garden is on track for a mid-May opening.

Update 4: Statement from Sam Calagione on Bourdain’s comments…

“A number of folks have been reaching out to me today about this twitter stuff. I’d rather focus on positive stuff than negative at this point. So this is what I will say:
No comment. Other than I’m a big “No Reservations” fan.
And now more than ever – support your small, truly-indie breweries! Last night I had Two Prima Pils, and an Aprihop. Today I had cask-conditioned Thyme Pale Ale, Baladin Nora, Birra Del Borgo ReAle, and am enjoying an Indian Brown Ale as I type this.
Focused on the goodness inside the bottle instead of the weirdness outside the bottle.
Cheers.”

Update 5: Beer book author, Andy Crouch, reports on Twitter: “Discovery confirms to me cancellation of @dogfishbeer Brew Masters. Blames poor audience reception. Crazy #beer week”

Update 6: More from Crouch via Twitter: “BrewMasters was launched with a lot of marketing support and garnered widespread media coverage…but unfortunately the series did not find a large enough audience so it was not renewed.” Let the recriminations begin. #beer”

Update 7: Crouch has clarified that the show has not been cancelled but rather “not renewed” meaning that the sixth and final episode of the first season will still air.


Original Post:

Word is spreading quickly today, about a couple of controversial tweets from Anthony Bourdain, star of No Reservations, on Tuesday:

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What sparked Bourdain’s ire? A report in The Atlantic about the proposed CARE Act bill, one that the Brewers Association and other groups argue “would make it much harder for brewers, vintners, distillers and importers to get their products to market.”

Oddly enough, MillerCoors supported the program with advertisements of Blue Moon.

No Reservations shares the same production team as Brewmasters, Zero Point Zero Productions, according to a press release sent out last year.

Bourdain made his statement one day after Anheuser-Busch and Goose Island put on a full court press in the media protecting their reputation after news broke here that AB was purchasing the small brewery. Though Bourdain did not specifically name Anheuser-Busch as being involved, he implicated the country’s largest beer seller and other brewing conglomerates. This will not help the image of AB with fans of small breweries across the country.

Incidentally, the loose-lipped Bourdain also found himself in hot water earlier this week over comments he made pissing on the James Beard awards despite being a past winner himself. Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione is among the finalists for an award this year.

Dogfish Head, Zero Zero Point Productions and Discovery Channel were all contacted but unavailable for comment.

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Photo credit: sifu_renka on Flickr

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38 thoughts on “Report: Brew Masters not renewed, Bourdain says “Big beer threatened to pull ads”

  1. Pingback: Was Brewmasters Killed by “Big Beer”? « Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog

  2. Ooh, good point about Zero Point Zero – that puts Bourdain right in the middle of things. Wish I would’ve put those two nuggets together!!

  3. Nice work in breaking the story!

    The Beard awards is also an interesting angle. Are he and Sam friends? I called Dogfish Head to find out but I got the answering machine. His comments weren’t specifically directed at Sam but he derided the awards for which Sam is a nominee. And he’s a past recipient. Go figure.

  4. Thanks, Adam. I have no idea if they are friends, I just think it’s a shame to see a big corporate bully messing with craft beer.

    Seems like a theme lately…

  5. Miller/Coors quietly wants people to think Blue Moon is craft beer. Many people already think it is. That’s why they were pushing ads for it during Brewmasters. Blue Moon is no more a craft beer than Miller Genuine Draft beer is a genuine draft beer.

  6. “Oddly enough, MillerCoors supported the program with advertisements of Blue Moon.”

    yeah…because Blue Moon *is* Coors.

  7. The reason people like Bourdain is because he is an outspoken d*** who happens to be right most of the time. It’s a refreshing combo.

  8. Pingback: Bourdain says Big Beer Battles Brew Masters | Hoptions

  9. From Sam:
    “A number of folks have been reaching out to me today about this twitter stuff. I’d rather focus on positive stuff than negative at this point. So this is what I will say:
    No comment. Other than I’m a big “No Reservations” fan.
    And now more than ever – support your small, truly-indie breweries! Last night I had Two Prima Pils, and an Aprihop. Today I had cask-conditioned Thyme Pale Ale, Baladin Nora, Birra Del Borgo ReAle, and am enjoying an Indian Brown Ale as I type this.
    Focused on the goodness inside the bottle instead of the weirdness outside the bottle.
    Cheers.”

  10. I for one am not going to blast Discovery for the cancellation of “Brew Masters”. While I loved the show I understand in TV its about viewership to demand ad money. Discover made a bold move and took a chance with a show like Brew Masters. Hopefully, its something they will revisit again in a few years and maybe throw us fans a bone with a special once or twice a year.

  11. From Sam: “support your small, truly-indie breweries.”

    Sounds like Noble Rot isn’t the only thing with sour grapes brewing in Rehoboth.

  12. @seth. i agree, this isnt NBC, you cant put stuff on that nobody will watch and let it stay…HOWEVER, this series had what? 5 shows? and they changed airing day what? 3 times? i didnt even see the third or fifth show till a week after because i didnt know they had switched (twice) the days.

    ill be honest, i dont think discover DID any marketing for this show because the first i had heard of it was on a beer website then poof a year later it was in the tv guide…THEN once the show started, i saw ads for it.

    i think that if sam traveled to other breweries and did stuff with them or if each episode or two focused on a new brewery that wouls also be cool

    BUT

    dont say that it couldnt find an audience because 5 show and three schedule changes probably contributed to its poor following…not to mention putting a new underdog show on a night with huge network competition…

  13. Not like Discovery really helped matters with programming and time shifting. What was it, 4 episodes, then change the time slot, then put something else on? Come on. Not everyone has a tivo or dvr and when you look forward to something in your routine, then its gone, how do you build your audience. I know a lot of people who were eagerly anticipating an episode, but then something else was on. WTF? I’m glad I’m in-state, and can get a sample at the brewery or a one-off at the brewpub without much hassle.

  14. Pingback: No Reservations for Brew Masters’ next season | Wet Behind the Beers

  15. This show got the “Three Sheets” treatment, maybe Sam and Zane could team-up for a new show?

  16. Lets face it – Brewmasters was doomed to fail. See above posts from Nick and CBfromDE.

    Dogfish Head scares the heck out of the huge conglomerates. Their influence on craft brewing nationwide in unprecedented.

    I felt the show was too much of a showcase (blow) on DFH. They milked it and it backfired. i.e. Sam the ham.

    Discovery did a lousy job – they went out on a limb – then chewed on it and ate it for dinner.

  17. I would like to see the numbers from the show. It was my understanding that it was doing very well. That may have been before they started mucking with the time slots.

  18. It seemed the Brewmasters series had two target audiences, first the “craft beer knowledgeable” that would be immediately drawn in because there is little else on the subject out there, and second, a smaller group of the craft beer curious. Unfortunately all of the episodes featured Dogfish and while the show was called “Brewmasters” everyone in the first group were quickly disenfranchised by the overt Dogfish focus. Dogfish has great stories and Sam is a made for TV personality, but the country has a lot of great breweries and Brewmasters he could have visited. When it became clear Brewmasters was essentially a beefed up Dogfish informercial I think many in his core audience simply tuned out or even sent in negative feedback. I can see big breweries and distributors also pushing the network to cancel it, because they are so incredibly powerful, but maybe the former was also part of the decision to cancel.

  19. Pingback: Poll: What Do You Think About Discovery Channel’s Brew Masters Being Cancelled?

  20. I think the Discovery Channel killed Brew Masters. They moved it to I think 3 different time slots, settling on Thursday nights. That put Brew Masters up against some of the most popular TV shows before anyone got a chance to even find it.
    Then they buried it in Blue Moon ads and tried to market Blue Moon as “craft beer” to a crowd that clearly knows better.
    Brew Masters didn’t have a chance and the Discovery Channel clearly has no idea what craft beer is.

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  22. Pingback: AB Forcing Discovery to Cancel Brewmasters? - Page 5 - Home Brew Forums

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  26. Well let’s try to connect the dots here-maybe one of the reasons big beer pulled their ads was because the show had declining viewership due to the Discovery Channel moving it around too much?

  27. Pingback: Brewmasters Cancelled | Brewmiscuous

  28. Pingback: FuzzyBrew | Discovery cans Brew Masters; is ‘Big Beer’ to blame?

  29. I am glad to see Anthony Bourdain stick up for craft beer and oppose any legislation like the CARE act, it’s too bad Bourdain didnt say anything when the Travel Channel who gainfully employs him chose not to renew the World Poker Tour which was the Travel Channels top rated show but was not renewed after congress passed the UIEGA(Unlawful Internet Gaming Act) in an attempt to halt the growth of both online poker and live poker itself.
    The show attracted many younger people to the game of poker which not only fuel the poker boom but the craft beer boom as well. This incident does however does give us insight into any future legislation regarding both issues and the question remains whether American consumers be able to make there own choices or will big government and big business will the the choices for them.

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