By Jennifer Kotila
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Greg Johnson and Rich Schumann, also known as the Beer Slob and the Beer Snob in their new show, are just a couple of local guys who like to enjoy a variety of beers, and have a little fun in the process.
Johnson, originally from Grove City, lives on Lake Washington. Schumann lives in Hutchinson, although he graduated from Dassel-Cokato High School in 1976.
The two first met each other when they were bartending at Lake Marion Supper Club in 1978, and have been friends ever since.
About a year-and-a-half-ago, Johnson was at Schumann’s house visiting in the kitchen, when Schumann’s wife suggested they “move” out to the “man-cave,” also known as Schumann’s garage, Johnson said.
Schumann didn’t think that was such a bad idea, because he had a new beer for Johnson to try.
“Blech, that’s disgusting,” was Johnson’s response to that initial taste test.
Schumann responded to that by calling Johnson a “beer slob,” and Johnson came back saying, “Well, you’re a beer snob,” to Schumann.
The two men suddenly had an idea, got out the video camera, and proceeded to film themselves goofing around and talking about beer.
When they were finished, they posted the video on Youtube.
Soon after that, Shane Zeppelin from Litchfield was told about the Youtube piece and decided to check it out.
He then approached his friend, Jerry Cook from Hutchinson, who offered to help the Beer Slob and the Beer Snob produce a show.
Johnson and Schumann explained they had just done the bit for fun, and did not have money to pay Zeppelin or Cook, but everyone agreed to work with what they had.
And thus, “Beer Guys TV” was born, and the show has become quite a sensation. Folks in Dassel and Cokato can see the show online, just search for Beer Guys TV on Youtube.
Admittedly, the Beer Slob, played by Johnson, likes mainstream beer brands and traditional, American, lighter brews, while the Beer Snob, played by Schumann, enjoys micro brews and darker, full-flavored beers.
Zeppelin and Cook, who have become known as the Beer Crew, just enjoy the free beer, and it doesn’t matter what kind it is (well, mostly anyway), according to the Beer Guys.
“The whole idea of the show is to get people to try craft beers, and try to learn more about what craft beer products are,” Schumann said.
“But we also promote responsibility, and promote the use of designated drivers in our show,” Johnson said. “And we like to have fun, sometimes we’re even a bit corny.”
Sometimes the show is kind of like a travel log, telling fans about the breweries the Beer Guys have visited, Schumann said. Other times, they invite a brewer to join them in the new studio they built last fall in Glencoe.
“Craft beer is really in kind of a wave right now, even outselling regular beers,” Johnson said.
“The US has a lot of different breweries, with a lot of very unique products,” added Schumann. “It’s a lot more fun sampling the new beers than it used to be.”
“We’ll never run out of beer to talk about,” Johnson said.
So many people will say that the only thing they like is Coors Light, or one of the other big beer brands, but when they participate in a blind taste test, they rarely pick that beer, Johnson said.
“A lot of bigger breweries put more money into their marketing than into the product itself,” said Schumann.
Over the course of doing the show, the two men said they have found that there is a lot they do not know about brewing beer, or even beer itself.
They will often get questions from fans that they do not know the answer to.
“Brewing beer is definitely an art,” Schumann said.
Many craft breweries are small, family-owned operations, making visiting them especially interesting and fun, Schumann said.
Craft beer often comes with a variety of unique names as well, added Johnson.
Some craft beer breweries use the beer to promote issues that are meaningful to them, such as Beer for Wildlife, which gives portions of its proceeds to protecting wildlife and the environment.
“I hate to say we are educational, as a show,” Schumann said. “But we are educational as a show.”
“The shows are very informative, but sometimes we like to have fun, too,” Johnson said. “We have a good time with it.”
Every time the Beer Guys meet with a new brewer, they said, they find interesting background stories.
“There are a lot of eccentric brewers out there,” admits Schumann. “And I’ve tried a lot of beers with more interesting names than the beer itself.”
“We learned early on it’s good not to be so mamby-pamby about whether or not we like a beer,” Johnson said.
When they first started the show, they would say a beer was alright, even if they didn’t particularly like it, which they soon realized fans did not appreciate, Johnson said.
The Beer Guys said it is always interesting going to a large beer show, where numerous brewers get together to promote their products.
“It’s fun talking to guys coming from five to six states away, who come in with their big booths with lighted signs.Then, you walk up to a small table, try their beer, and think, ‘Wow! This is good!’” Schumann said.
Although the Beer Guys have no vested interest in doing so, they like to promote small brewers and help people get to know the product, Schumann said.
“This is all about trying something different, having fun, and growing,” Johnson said.