Em Sauter might be a superhero. Her superpowers involve getting crafty with craft beer. In case you didn’t know, she’s the human counterpart of Pints and Panels, which began as an experiment combining her love of fun, playful and whimsical art within the craft-beer scene. She realized that combining her first love of drawing from an early age, along with an early Archie comics influence, and a side of beer knowledge could wind up really helping craft beer aficionados and industry veterans, alike.
This week, she’ll be appearing at America’s largest craft brewing industry gathering, the Craft Brewers Conference, which will be held in Nashville, TN. There, she will be signing her latest book release, Hooray for Craft Beer! An Illustrated Guide to Beer, as well as selling enamel pins, books and other merchandise from her online store (where most of her online posts are currently available for sale). Additionally, she’ll be appearing at Barrique Brewing and Blending for a book signing, and any time you may see her walking around the Music City Center or along the nearby streets, make sure to introduce yourself, since she will be handing out free stickers, as well.
Before heading out to CBC, Ms. Sauter agreed to a quick email interview to discuss her background within the industry, her very first visit to Nashville and to make a few new Simpsons-beer pairings!
When asked which came first, the art or the love for craft beer, it was definitely her artistic side. She began drawing at age 4, attempting to mimic the style of Archie comics. It wasn’t until 2007, during her early 20s that she discovered good beer (especially Witbiers). While attending art school in Vermont, where the beer scene is incredibly strong, Pints and Panels was born in 2012 as a drawing exercise for reviewing beers, which also gave her an excuse to try a variety of styles.
Fast forward several years, and Em has received her Advanced Cicerone Certification, as well as International Beer Judge certification. While she isn’t a brewer, you might not be totally surprised by the original source of her beer knowledge.
“How to Brew, by John Palmer, was instrumental in helping me learn about brewing. I must have read that book about 10 times. The Advanced Cicerone is a really hard test. I didn’t think I passed, at first, as you have to know a lot about beer.”
She began judging local homebrew competitions and eventually applied to judge at the Great American Beer Festival. After judging there, her resume expanded greatly. Currently, she’s judged on five different continents.
Her first experience within the industry was working at a couple of beer stores before returning to her home state of Connecticut, where she was the social media coordinator for a new brewery. She worked there for five-and-a-half years before fully focusing on Pints and Panels. And now, beer students, aficionados and industry warriors can study her art while preparing to take those same tests. And what does that mean to her?
“It means a lot, because you are helping people. All P&P art is free to use, so it makes studying really accessible, since beer classes can be pricey. I also make sure that everything is accurate, because studying for tests like this is wading through a lot of murky stuff online that can be false, so I’m happy to give people a reliable source to learn about beer.”
When she isn’t involved with Pints and Panels, she appears in the All About Beer podcast, which is self-described as “your one stop for all things beer.” She and cohost Don Tse keep things really nerdy/technical, so you can learn about beer while having a lot of fun. Be on the lookout, since the podcast will be recording an episode at CBC during Camp Rauchbier, on May 9.
While Em isn’t speaking at any panels this year — she’s planning to submit a proposal for next year’s show — she’s also a contributor for the Baseball Beer Project, which is a crowdsourced website that gives you the best places to buy good beer in and around each stadium.
“I hate going to a ballpark and wandering around, wasting time looking for good beer. This website will help you. Anyone can contact me with tips.”
During her very first visit to Nashville, along with visiting The Bluebird Cafe and Ryman Auditorium, she plans on going to a Nashville Sounds minor league game on Wednesday night, since she’s a huge baseball fan.
When asked if she has a favorite beer style, Em refuses to choose only one, claiming to love all beer equally, but her Top 3 includes Czech Pilsners, Witbiers and Marzens. And for those people struggling with beer and food pairings, she has some recommendations to make.
“Buy beer and foods and experiment. If it works, great, examine why that is. If it doesn’t, do the same thing. I love chocolate chip cookies and NEIPA — it’s like a chocolate-orange (combination). I also love NEIPA and tacos, because it adds a sweet fruitiness to the saltiness of the meal. Lastly, if you haven’t tried double IPA and carrot cake, you are missing out.”
When asked what CBC means to her, Em describes the event as a fun time where you can see lots of beer people, who you don’t normally see.
“It’s those beer friendships that make it a great time. I always look forward to it. It’s also a great place to learn as many of the seminars are about super-important beer topics.”
Lastly, if you haven’t seen Em’s “Beer and Simpsons Characters” pairings, you’re truly missing out. Definitely scroll through Pints and Panels to find it. While I found it humorous, this superfan of The Simpsons requested a few of his favorite characters to be paired, and Ms. Sauter took it in stride.
“Duffman, obviously, has to be American Light Lager, Hans Moleman is a really old bottle of imperial stout that you left in the basement for 10 years, Disco Stu would be some kind of a sparkling, fruited sour, and Ned Flanders is obvious — a Flanders Red!”
Please visit the official webpage for full CBC information.