beer in fiction / tv opinion

One to Watch: Sarah Warman, Influencer

A while ago, we thought aloud about whether there was anyone talking or writing about beer with anything like the ability of Jamie Oliver or Delia Smith to mention a product and immediately cause it to sell out across the country.

Though she’s not quite there, we reckon Sarah Warman (@sarahfwarman) might be the one to watch. (Literally.)

Back in 2011, we joined Twitter because we were frustrated by the BBC’s blank refusal to mention beer in any substantial way on its flagship weekend cookery show Saturday Kitchen and wanted to join in a campaign to encourage them to reconsider. It didn’t really work.

In recent months, however, without much fanfare, Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch (another show following much the same template of light chat around a cooker) has done what we all wanted and made beer a semi-regular feature, with Ms. Warman as their in-house expert.

Having paid her dues ‘vlogging’ on YouTube, she looks comfortable on screen; she also conveys genuine enthusiasm for beer and knows her stuff, without being a know-all or a nerd, which is presumably why they keep asking her back.

Last weekend (registration required, un-skippable ads) she surveyed some ‘craft cans’, recommending beers from Beavertown and Rooster’s. For our part, we noticed an immediate bump in traffic to our own review of the latter, and one beer retailer has confirmed a rise in sales following the show. (Albeit not as big as when Beavertown Neck Oil featured on the prime-time Food & Drink.) Tom Fozard from Rooster’s was also very happy with the outcome:

We’ve had a few enquiries via email, Twitter and the phone from people asking where they can buy our cans from, which is good, but the amount of favourites and mentions on Twitter on the day was great. Definitely a nice buzz surrounding the whole thing.

So, not quite a Delia/Jamie run on pickled walnuts or whatever, but certainly a step up from wine experts half-heartedly discussing a bottled bitter from Tesco for 30 seconds before getting back to the stuff they’re really interested in.

Cards on the table: in practice, we find Sunday Brunch near unwatchable, beer or no beer; and, though we think they’re a good thing in the abstract, don’t particularly enjoy watching video blogs either. We’re also slightly uneasy about the fact that Ms. Warman works primarily for BrewDog.

Those concerns aside, if/when she gets her own show, we will definitely be there with a big bowl of popcorn. (We know from several conversations we’ve had that TV companies are itching to do something about beer — they just haven’t found an angle that works yet, or the right people to front it.)

In the meantime, if you’re a brewery with samples to send out, you should probably make sure she is at the top of your list.

13 replies on “One to Watch: Sarah Warman, Influencer”

Some bright spark at Channel 4 should just repeat The Beer Hunter at a sensible time slot.
Bet you a lot of today’s drinkers haven’t had a chance to see it, I reckon it would get quite respectable viewing figures

Thought Sarah did a great job. However…
rerun the Beer Hunter – seconded

So far, nothing *we’ve* seen (we haven’t caught ever appearance) has come off as BrewDog propaganda (well, maybe the mention of the United Craft Brewers…) but of course it’s not ideal to have commentators and critics in the employ of the industry. Until it’s possible for people to pay their rent solely by writing independently about beer, though, the brewery-employed-blogger and corporate consultancy/copy jobs for beer writers are facts of life.

Agreed on the unwatchable-ness of the show in general. It was accidentally on our TV this Sunday while we were brewing and a frantic search for the remote ensued.

I don’t watch TV really, aside from the occasional iPlayer for something like Gardener’s World. But was interested in watching this*… and it was a real utter pain the the bollocks. First because my expectations, set by iPlayer perhaps, were wrong the the thing wasn’t online until a day later (I wasted my time looking for it in the wrong episode like some kinda total moron) – and second because I had to endure about 10 minutes worth of advertising whilst trying to seek to the correct part once the right video was online. (Thankfully a bit speedy due to folk telling me roughly where to locate it.)

Anywaaayyy… it was good. Though what value the tall chap adds I don’t know. And poor Let There Be Tim had to pick a favourite beer that wasn’t from a mahoosive multinational … that seemed to cause him some slight pain. Probably zapped by the electrodes the LTTB folks implanted in his skull.

Great to see craft beer on normal TV for normal folk, and Sarah Warman’s enthusiasm comes across fantastically. Can be nothing but a huge bonus for great beer.

FYI Sarah’s bit is at 02:00:30 in the show.

* Vested interest, innit… Worth me catching up to it as I sell both Rooster’s and Beavertown in my patch of England… hoping this is in turn good for my customers who stock these beers. Beavertown flies out… Rooster’s sells well, but deserves to sell just as well as the B’town! I’d insert a little ad or something here but that’s just not on 😉

I accidentally watched a festive episode and they were discussing stouts and such like from brewers such as Wild Beer Company. The show’s hosts and guests faces when tasting told quite the story, one of hating every drop. I thought at the time, now there is the true representation of attitudes to big beer flavours.

As an aside, Kitchen Cabinet series 10 episode 2 had Tim Anderson defining Craft Ale.

Something like the hairy bikers touring the country, visiting regional or local craft breweries, learning about the history and the local “style” and then doing some kind of taste off in the local pub would work brilliantly.

I think Sarah does great work with the Sunday Brunch slot – overcoming the hurdles of presenter inanity and repeated beer cliches (6% beer? Lout juice!) etc through sheer force of personality. With a few TV production companies looking at how to capitalise on the beer market uptick, I’m sure Sarah will be in demand in the future. That said…

“We’re also slightly uneasy about the fact that Ms. Warman works primarily for BrewDog.”

Me too. Although she presents the slot in a personal capacity, her employment with Brewdog should be made clearer, and their beers shouldn’t be on the show. The slot on 4th January this year, when Nanny State was included in a low-ABV tasting, was in breach of the Ofcom broadcasting code as a result (and would have led to censure if anyone had complained).

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