By Jon Graef (MA '12)
When television major Brad Chmielewski (BA '05) and audio arts & acoustics major Ken Hunnemeder (BA '05) met through a mutual friend at Columbia, it was more than the start to a beautiful friendship. It was the beginning of a fruitful joint venture celebrating their shared obsession of craft beer.
In August 2008, the friends launched video podcast Hop Cast, in which they sample and review craft beer. Since then, the pair has completed more than 180 Hop Cast episodes and garned more than 100,000 combined views through YouTube and Vimeo.
Produced by and starring Hunnemeder and Chmielewski and edited by Maeve Price (BA '02)--the mutual friend who introduced them and now Chmielewski's fiancee--Hop Cast showcases beers from different states and breweries, and shares tidbits about the brewing process, ingredients, and packaging. The hosts have also broadcast on-location interviews with high-profile guests including celebrity chef Rick Bayless, Publican executive chef Paul Kahan, and Josh Deth, owner of Revolution Brewing. In addition, podcasts have covered gatherings including Beer Hoptacular and the festival of Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beers.
"People started seeing us, and we started solidifying our presence in the Chicago beer scene," Hunnemeder said.
The skills sharpened while pursuing their hobby have helped Hunnemeder and Chmielewski to tackle more professional creative endeavors. Hunnemeder works as communications coordinator for Goose Island Brewing Company's marketing department. Chmielewski started the company LooseKeys, which makes explainer videos promoting companies to potential investors. He said his Hop Cast video skills have come in handy: "Podcasting seemed like an interesting thing to do as a side project, knowing that brands and businesses are going to want to put out that content as well," Chmielewski said. "It's nice to know what you're talking about if you're trying to get work from them."
"[Columbia] opened my eyes to different forms of media," Hunnemeder said. "The video format was something that was completely new to me. Even though I didn't study it, it's what I picked up from hanging with friends that went to Columbia, especially Brad."