Massive Heavy Hops 2021 Recap – A Year of Creators, Innovators and Insiders!

Innovators, creators and insiders in music and beverage industry are the voices heard weekly on Heavy Hops. Together, they offer a variety of perspectives on anything we love: in this case heavy music and beer. As an end of year recap I’ve woven together a fabric containing all the episodes released in 2021 (if you want to listen to any episode click the name of the guest). Read further to learn more about the team that makes this show happen on a weekly basis. Please consider donating to the show and joining us on our discord community. The map below illustrates the geographic range of guests who have been on the show.

Mikael Stanne of The Halo Effect: Photo By: Therese Rasumusson


With the lack of touring opportunities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic musicians found new sources of inspiration to create material. Normally active touring musicians David Schmidt (Sula Bassana/Electric Moon), Johannes Persson (Cult of Luna), John Alfredsson & Johannes Eckerström (Avatar), Marko Tervonen (The Crown), Mattias Nööjd & Axel Wittbeck (Firebreather) and Grant Netzorg (In The Company of Serpents) prepared new music for release in 2021 and 2022 while Mikael Stanne (The Halo Effect/Dark Tranquillity), Brian Cook (Torment & Glory/Russian Circles/Sumac), Alex Stjernfeldt (Novarupta/Grand Cadaver), Anders “El Guapo” Gustafsson (Zombiekrig) and Sanford Parker (HyperCube/Buried At Sea) found the pandemic allowed them time to say “yes” to new or endeavors previously on hold. Through reflection, introspection and trying new methods of expression Scott Evans (Kowloon Walled City) and Tim Pope (The Amenta) created masterpieces that charted new courses for their respective projects. For Trevor Shelley de Brauw (Pelican/Chord/RLYR) 2021 was an opportunity to revisit his back catalog. The pandemic highlighted social and economic inequalities and human rights issues across our society that activists such as Buick Audra (Friendship Commanders) highlighted in new output.

Photo Provided by: Schlenkerla

Brewers and beer makers showed a great deal of resiliency in 2021, using any extra time to perfect their craft of explore new dimensions of the beverage industry. Jim Cibak & Marty Scott (Revolution Brewing) and Mike Schallau (Is/Was Brewing) shared very different perspectives on barrel aging; Averie Swanson (Keeping Together) spoke extensively about how unique ingredients can evoke, or be used to share, memories; Matt Sampson (Hacienda Beer Co & Door County Brewing) and Coy Eakes (Gamma Brewing) found making beer as a perfect expression of their creative and scientific interests. Laurin Mack (Conrad Seipp Brewing)  great great great granddaughter of Chicago brewing magnet Conrad Seipp – explores family history by making beer while sixth generation brewmaster Mattias Trum (Schlenkerla Brewery) continues to find inspiration by studying brewing history in Bamberg. Amaechi Uzoigwe & Kate Brankin (Run The Jewels) found new partners in multiple beverage segments to help launch collaborative brands, connecting music and beverage interests.

Dr. Garth Cambray’s spontaneously fermented mead aging in wine barrels. Photo Provided By: B-United, Inc.

Creating and sharing a sense of place is a goal or outcome we discovered many musicians and beverage makers shared. Adrian Utzon Dietz & Tobias Hjorth (Solbrud) discussed the choice of venue – in their case a century old water tower in Copenhagen – as a key experiential and acoustic force in their recent live LP recording. For world renown mead makers Dr. Garth Cambray (Makana Meadery) and Ken Schramm (Schramm’s Meadery & Orchard), as well as coffee roaster Noah Hopkins (Dark Matter Coffee), quality of ingredients and connection to local agriculture are crucial in conveying their signature profiles. Dan Kleban and Anne Marisic (Maine Beer Co) center their business model on local environmental work and giving. For visual creators such as Maura Walsh (Black Nail Studio), the pandemic created new, unexpected, markets for her art and new engagement opportunities for people to connect with spaces they miss as a result of pandemic-enforced closures.

From Maura Walsh’s “Tiny Guide…” Collaboration Series


Not all creators are innovators. It is often innovators – a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products – that create spaces or opportunities for artists and musicians to explore. Festival organizers Jeremy Walker & Alex Feher (Fire In The Mountains) share their process of pairing heavy music with the iconic Teton Mountains. Walter Hoeijmakers & Becky Laverty (Roadburn Festival) discuss how curation, commissioned sets, and fan experience are approached, and the festival’s evolving interpretation of what encompasses heavy music. Cathy Pellow’s (Sargent House) passion for cultivating talent and giving non-mainstream artists a platform is evident in the commercial success of her artists and the role they’ve played in redefining heaviness.

Solbrud Live at Brønshøj Vandtrårn, November 2019. Photo By: Adriana Zak


In agronomy, innovators also create. Gert van Der Waal – also a distiller, brewery and distributor – and James Altweis (Hopnology/Siebel Institute) view non-traditional agriculture as means of economic empowerment and exceeding market expectations. By developing a deep understanding of his suppliers, promoting curiosity and looking to other industries for inspiration Matthias Neidhart & David Frost (B-United) was able to not only create a first in class tank container program to ship beers fresh from Europe and Asia to North America, but also effectively set a new standard for what it means to be an importer.

Gert Van Der Waal Picking Hops on his Farm. Photo By: Lucy Corne

Using the film Sound of Metal as our starting point we discuss how hearing injury and loss can occur, the role stigmatization plays in exacerbating hearing damage and what constitutes effective hearing conservation with Drs. Michael Santucci (Sensaphonics) & Howard Kotler. Innovations in the field of hearing are an important, if sometimes overlooked, component to artists ability to create, and ours to enjoy.


Perspectives offered by insiders and leaders lend context for the voices of creators and innovators. Award-winning reporters, writers and podcasters Breandán Kearney (Belgian Smaak), Matthew Curtis (Pellicle Magazine), Lucy Corne (On Tap Magazine/ offer crucial insight into the global nature of beer. Samu Rahn (Louis Glunz Beer)  shares a wholesalers perspective rarely heard on podcasts, while Chris Quinn (The Beer Temple) discusses a range of topics with us from his view as a world renown beer retailer. Danielle D’Alessandro (formerly of Illinois Craft Brewers Guild) shares the challenges of navigating the complicated legal framework of state alcohol laws during the pandemic. Spirits expert Eric Rosentreter joins us for a special spirits industry insiders episode to discuss consolidation among whiskey/bourbon suppliers.

We dive deep into the supply chain issues facing the vinyl record production industry with manufacturer Michael Greig Thomas (Kindercore Records) and what is involved in running a record store with Grant McKee (Bucket O’ Blood Records)

In what is certainly a favorite episode of the year: we enjoy a robust, sociologically focused, discussion with renown thought leader Dr. Deena Weinstein (DePaul University) about the origins and evolution of paganism in metal music.

Recaps & Highlights

In the middle of the year we were joined by Nick Dellacroce (Bongripper) to take a look back at the year so far in terms of music releases. Heavy Hops also surpassed 50 episodes this year, and we took an episode to reflect on that landmark. At the beginning of the year we did a three part exploration of the highly influential hardcore scene in Umeå, Sweden in the 90s and 2000s: Part I: Birch & Ashes, Part II: Keep it Real, Part III: Documenting a Movement .

Photo By: Therese Rasmusson

Alexi was interviewed about his background in music and podcasting on Rock In Chicago Podcast and did a two part segment on the Beer Temple Podcast about the history of and impact imported European beers had in the American craft beer movement (Part I, Part II).

It takes a team to create and publish a weekly podcast. Without the weekly contribution of these collaborators this show wouldn’t be possible, or where it is today.


Photo By: Therese Rasmusson

From Studio Berserk in Gothenburg, Sweden, Esben Willems edits, mixes and masters each episode of Heavy Hops. His attention to detail and quest for the best possible audio quality makes him a perfect team member. Recording two episodes in Gothenburg with him this past summer was a real treat and hopefully it happens again in the future! His main band Monolord released its fourth album Your Time To Shine this year – which he produced, edited, mixed and mastered.

Chicago-based artist and printmaker Bryn R. Gleason has been a close and constant collaborator with Scorched Tundra and Heavy Hops since 2019 (she was interviewed for episode, 22 give it a listen). Her visual interpretations of the conversations accompany each episode. Her digital work also appears regularly on beer labels for Pipeworks Brewing Company.

Bryn’s use of both photographic and hand manipulated imagery, crafted on copper plates for intaglio printing, is uniquely experimental and skillfully executed. She often incorporates delicate and detailed images with aggressive and sporadic line work, resulting in an overall aesthetic that is dark, moody, and eerily captivating. Her work was shown at seven exhibitions in 2021.

Sam Cangelosi was the co-host of Heavy Hops from its inception until July 2021. His encouragement and support both as a friend and audio editor were crucial in getting this show off the ground. If you’re interested in donating to his GoFundMe, which supports his efforts to stay cancer-free, please visit this link.