John Ronayne owns Brewgrass Homebrew Supply — that’s his business. His hobby is “Boy Meets Wort,” a video series he launched with his friend Ricky Burdette to highlight local beer. Sometimes things get goofy.
OK, most of the time, things get goofy. For instance, a couple of weeks back, he convinced Rick Stidham, co-owner and founder of Akasha Brewing Company, to run a keg of gose through a randall — a sort of filtering mechanism — filled with Warheads candy, a kind of sour or tart candy. Normally, fruit would be an ingredient in a randall, but Ronayne wanted to go a step further.
“The idea was born out of about 45 beers,” Ronayne said with a chuckle. “We were talking about how crazy sour beer is getting these days, that it’s almost literally like sucking a Warhead.”
“I found we could buy six pounds of Warheads on Amazon for next to nothing,” added Burdette.
And, so, the limited-release Warhead gose was born, along with a video.
But for the last few weeks, Ronayne and Burdette have done several videos under the “Boy Meets Wort” moniker, and they don’t plan to stop anytime soon. They’ve launched a Facebook page (facebook.com/boymeetswort) and a YouTube channel. Essentially, they just turn on the camera and talk about beer-related topics. Sometimes they do tastings; other times it’s interviews. But fun is what the duo, who’ve been friends and homebrew buddies for nearly a decade, is always after.
“We wanted to do something in beer that was less serious and more fun,” Burdette said. “I think beer has gotten pretty serious lately, and we kind of wanted to take a different angle on that and show that beer should be something you enjoy.”
It’s an offshoot of Brewgrass Homebrew Supply, in a way — an extension of the business focus on beer, but without actually talking about the business itself.
“The idea was to make it be its own thing, to focus on a different approach to tasting craft beer and have a little fun with it,” Ronayne said. “We’re trying to make it accessible to people who aren’t necessarily into craft beer and don’t understand tasting notes and things like that.”
One recent installment was a live check-in from the Germantown Schnitzelburg Business Association launch party. Another was a six-second clip of Burdette holding up a can of Stiegl Radler Zitrus and saying only these words: “Have you had this? If not, change that!”
In a live check-in from the recent Highlands Beer Festival, the duo opens the video with a live shot from inside the tent where they describe the heat as being “like human soup.” John King — a “Louisville beer celebrity,” as Ronayne announces it on camera — makes an appearance, plus there’s a loosely-conducted interview with a rep from Sun King Brewing of Indianapolis. Mostly, they just talk about the beers they are tasting and chatting occasionally with other attendees as the focus on the camera’s lens comes and goes. It’s almost as if the camera was drinking beer right along with them.
And while at times it comes off as a college prank, Ronayne and Burdette stay true to their focus, which is to focus on the local beer scene, whether it’s a brewery, a new beer release, an event or just a random idea.
“We get a little funny bone loop going on with a beer or two,” Burdette explained. “We don’t have a big plan. We just have a rough idea of what we want to talk about.”
Then they hit the “record” button, and whatever comes out, comes out.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Ronayne said. “I love the social media aspect of it.”
So do the organizers of the Highlands Beer Fest, who contacted the “Boy Meets Wort” guys and asked them to put together a one-minute video of the festival’s highlights. That video should be posted soon on ValuMarket’s social media channels.
And while beer reviews will remain the focus for now, Ronayne also hopes to tackle longer form videos going forward, specifically a few that look at Louisville’s brewing heritage.
“I am super-pumped to look at the history of Fehr’s, Falls City, and just look at the city’s beer history in general,” he said. “It’s such a fascinating story, and easy to tell.”
The next video in the series will feature the guys talking about their favorite summer beer cocktails around town. That video should be posted by this Friday. But don’t expect tasting notes or wrinkled noses, because it’s not that kind of project.
“I hope we can include some outtakes,” Burdette said. And that’s the point — beer is meant for enjoyment.
“After you’ve had enough beers, if you can’t laugh at yourself, I mean, come on,” Ronayne said.