Randy Sprecher Plays Not My Job

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We interview the brewer behind Sprecher Brewery in Milwaukee, and beg him for free samples. (This segment originally broadcast on Nov. 17, 2012.)


Thank you, guys. Thanks so much. So we’re talking summer pleasures this week. And there’s nothing better than a cold beer on a hot summer day. Am I right, Bill?

BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: I wouldn’t know. I can’t risk this voice on an inexpensive malt beverage. When it’s cocktail hour at my house, I drink chocotinis with a rum floater, as God intended.

SAGAL: Well, great. Well, Randy Sprecher likes beer, a lot. So when we went to Milwaukee in November of 2012, we decided to talk to him, a real Milwaukee brewer. Turns out, he had been dreaming of making his own beer for decades.

RANDY SPRECHER: I had actually thought about doing the beer thing. Clear back in '74, I wrote the California ABC people about inquiring about having a brewery license. They went, well, where's the railroad and $50 million or whatever to get started, you know. And I said, no, I'd make a little 500-gallon or maybe a thousand-gallon self-made system or something and go from there. And they were going, what the heck is this guy talking about?

SAGAL: Really?

SPRECHER: You know, that stuff sounds a little crazy, at those days. And then, of course, back then I also was starting to dabble with root beer recipes.

SAGAL: Really?


SAGAL: These days, would you say it's true that your company, Sprecher, named for you, is more known for its root beer and sodas than it is for its beer?

SPRECHER: Well, it certainly is across the nation.


SPRECHER: We aren’t known for beer across the nation so much, but we certainly are known for the root beer. And of course, my passion is the beer. I always enjoy a nice root beer as well. A draft root beer sometimes is pretty satisfying.

SAGAL: Under what circumstances would that be satisfying?


SAGAL: You've drunk a lot of beer, I'm guessing, in your life, professionally.

SPRECHER: I guess I've had my share, yes.

SAGAL: What is - I know there's so many different varieties and flavors now. What is the worst beer you've ever had?

SPRECHER: Oh that's a bad thing to say. It’s like, how about - usually you want to know the best. I won't say what's the worst, but there are certainly some beers out there - well, I know there's a brewery that's defunct now, so I can talk about them. The old Schaefer Brewery in - over by Cleveland, I think. And they had some pretty - it was tough to drink that.

MO ROCCA: It all depends. It depends how you drink it though. That tastes really great in a funnel.


ROCCA: Don't use a glass; use a funnel. That's how you do it. Whatever happened to shotgunning, by the way? I know that that's not responsible behavior. But people used to do something called shotgunning. Remember that?

SPRECHER: Well, actually, that was after my time, and in between here, and it's probably gone again. I don't know. Get some college kids here to talk about how they do it. Shotgunning I guess was something where you have two holes - you see how Miller’s trying to punch another hole to go faster, or something.

SAGAL: Yeah.

SPRECHER: You know, pour it in a glass and enjoy it in a glass. But shotgunning, I guess I didn't have the experience. I like my beer in a glass, thank you.


SAGAL: Yeah.


SAGAL: One thing I'm curious about - everybody knows how to talk like a wine snob, even if you're not one. You know how they talk - oh, it has floral notes of raspberry - whatever you say. Teach us how to talk like a beer snob. If you, if I wanted to show off my knowledge of beer and I'd take a sip of beer...

FAITH SALIE: You burp.


SAGAL: It doesn't have to be true, but just tell me what sort of things I should talk about. What should I say?

SPRECHER: Well, the beer snob today I guess would be more of the Belgian or the fine ales, but long-aged and have refined bouquets and a beautiful head on it to seduce you and try to drink some more of it.

SALIE: Why are you so svelte for someone who drinks a lot of beer?

SPRECHER: You know what, I've been working at it and it's hard work, when you get older, you know...

SAGAL: Yeah, how do you do that?

SPRECHER: I drink less and work out a lot, you know. So swimming, I've been doing my share of swimming. I love swimming.

SALIE: In beer?

SPRECHER: In beer.


SPRECHER: Low-carbonated beer, because when it foams up too much then you can't see where you're going.

SAGAL: That's a problem.


SPRECHER: And you know, it gets kind of gassy and you want oxygen, not CO2.

SAGAL: Yeah.


ROCCA: Can I say...

PIERCE: Then everybody else gets out of the pool and it's terrible.

SAGAL: Yeah, I like that. It's like, turn head to breathe, put head down to drink. Turn head to breathe.


SAGAL: That's pretty much how half our audience spends their evenings anyway. So why not just swim in it.

ROCCA: When you're invited to a party and it's BYOB, is that a lot of pressure?


SPRECHER: The biggest pressure is what to bring and how much, you know. But you always can bring - we make quite a range of things, so I normally got something for most palates. And, depends what kind of party you're going to, I guess, which with you're going to come up with.

SALIE: What if you're going to the Republican Party, what kind of beer do you bring?


SAGAL: At this point, they just need a lot of it.

SPRECHER: Yeah, they need a lot of it.

SAGAL: Well, Randy Sprecher, we are delighted to talk to you about beer, but in fact, we have invited here to play a game we're calling…

CARL KASELL, BYLINE: Prepare, you sinners, to receive the sharp edge of God's judgment.



SAGAL: You brew beer and make wine and brandy, which means that Carrie A. Nation, the famous and famously violent prohibitionist of the 19th century, would have loathed you. We're going to ask you three questions about the life and career of Carrie Nation. Get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - Carl's voice on their home answering machine.

SPRECHER: Well, I'm glad you picked a favorite person of mine. I've known him for years.

SAGAL: Oh, sure.


SAGAL: Carl, who is Randy Sprecher playing for?

KASELL: Randy is playing for Dan Sidner from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

SAGAL: All right.


SAGAL: Now - now, you know that Carrie Nation was the famous, most famous of the temperance activists or the prohibitionists. Her habit was to go into bars and smash bottles with hatchets, right, famously.

SPRECHER: Well I'm finding out.

SAGAL: Yeah, you are, OK.


SAGAL: Now...

SPRECHER: Where were the police?

SAGAL: She referred to herself as what? A - a hatchet-wielding, bustle-wearing scourge of drinkers, tipplers, and sippers? B - a hellish vision, drawn from the sickest nightmares of the drinking man? Or, C - a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what he doesn't like?


SPRECHER: Now, that's quite a list of choices.

SAGAL: It is.

SPRECHER: I'll tell you. I guess since she did use the hatchet, let's go with number one.

SAGAL: You're going to go with the hatchet-wielding bustle-wearing...

SPRECHER: Well, you said that she whacked those bottles.

SAGAL: …she did.


SAGAL: Actually, no, she said C - a bulldog running along the feet of Jesus. She was propelled by her religious faith, Ms. Nation was.

ROCCA: Oh, my gosh.

SAGAL: Next question. Once she got involved in the temperance cause, Ms. Nation liked to walk into bars and address the bartenders how? Was it A - Good morning, destroyer of men's souls?


SAGAL: B - Man, I would kill for a drink?


SAGAL: Or, C - Duck?


SPRECHER: Well, I don't know. Can we go with A or C, but duck, she's got the ax, right, the hatchet?

SAGAL: Yeah.

SPRECHER: I don't know, maybe - OK, all right, the audience is generally right, right?

SAGAL: Always.

SPRECHER: We'll go with the majority. We'll go with A.

SAGAL: You're going to go with A, and they are right and you were right. It was - good morning, destroyer of men's souls.




SAGAL: It was only later that she started going in and smashing the bottles with a hatchet. Later in life, Ms. Nation needed money to support her activities. How did she raise the money? A - she auctioned off the chance to watch her take a drink?


SAGAL: B - she sold souvenir hatchets? Or, C - she sold photos of herself in a swimsuit?


SPRECHER: I'm going to go with B, I think, on that one.

SAGAL: Yeah.

SPRECHER: The swimsuit, who knows what you're going to get there, holy cow.

SAGAL: Oh yeah.


SAGAL: It was 1910, it really wouldn't have done much.

SPRECHER: It could drive you to drinking, you know.

SAGAL: The answer, you're choosing B, selling souvenir hatchets.

SPRECHER: Let's try that one.

SAGAL: She - that's right, that's what she did.






SAGAL: She was famous for her hatchet, souvenir hatchets.

ROCCA: That's amazing.

SAGAL: Yeah. Carl, how did Randy Sprecher do on our quiz?

KASELL: Randy had two correct answers, so he wins for Dan Sidner.


SAGAL: Well done. Randy Sprecher is the award-winning beer Meister at the Sprecher Brewery here in Milwaukee. Randy Sprecher, thank you so much for joining us.

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