Of all the places online to receive an education, I would not have chosen Instagram.
The Facebook-owned social media platform emphasizes the visual over the written word. Unlike Facebook, it’s more celebrity-driven and there’s an air of self-promotion with most posts.
As on Twitter and Facebook, there’s a beer community. Beer Instagram ranges from monotonous, poorly lit shots of half-filled pints of what might as well be orange juice to gorgeous photographs and informative videos.
One of the unexpected benefits to adding Instagram to my media diet is that it’s a source for quick, entertaining information about beer.
One discovery is actually quite local. Artist and author Em Sauter (@pintsandpanels) treats her followers to brewing information by way of cartoons. Want to know what pairs best with a Doppelbock? Interested in the specs on the Brewers Gold hop? Looking for a breakdown of what constitutes a Rye India Pale Ale? She’s got you covered with illustrations with just enough labeling to inform, but not put you to sleep.
After all, it’s Instagram, where the next picture is a flick of the thumb away.
“The reason I love Instagram is that it works so well for artists and people who work in a visual medium like myself,” Sauter, who lives in New Britain, wrote to me.
Sauter’s 7,000-plus followers are worldwide; in fact, the city where she has the most followers in Santiago, Chile.
“People from all over the world … can learn about beer in an easy to digest way that’s free and accessible,” she writes. “Art is universal and so is beer so the two working together is why I think Pints and Panels is successful.”
Sauter is an Advanced Cicerone, which means she passed a rigorous certification test, and is also the author of “Beer Is for Everyone (If Drinking Age)” (One Peace Books, 2017), where she instructs with a minimalist and colorful cartoon style.
In San Diego, Proper Josh (@proper_josh) likes to keep his Instagram persona and his professional life separate (so I don’t know his real name). A former wine enthusiast who emits a skater vibe with his shaggy blonde hair peeking out of his baseball cap, Proper Josh followed his obsession with beer from the hit-all-the-breweries phase to homebrewing.
Now he posts videos of breezy, informative tastings oftentimes in his garage.
He has “quickies,” which focus on a single beer, blind-tasting sections where he guesses the style based solely on smell and taste, and a series where he goes through a specific style and teaches his more than 4,300 followers all about it while demonstrating with a beer.
“I’ve spent years studying beer, studying style, studying…