Robin Shepard obsessed about beer, then started to write about it.
Chris Drosner kind of fell into it.
The two Madison-based beer columnists described how they started their work at a beer-tasting event sponsored by the Madison pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The beer-tasting took place at the Great Dane restaurant and was led by Great Dane head brewer Eric Brusewitz. It was preceeded by a walking tour of downtown Madison led by Shepard, who shared details of Madison’s brewing history.
Shepard, a UW-Madison Associate Professor of Life Sciences Communication and Cooperative Extension natural resource specialist, is also a contributing beer columnist to the Madison weekly Isthmus. Shepard said beer became his hobby before he ever started writing about it. Enjoying it led to researching how to make it, which led to learning more of the history of it. After years of study, and after listening to friends urge him to write, Shepard began writing about breweries in Wisconsin. One book led to another, as well as freelance writing at Isthmus. He also speaks frequently on beer and the history of beer.
Drosner, an assistant city editor at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison and the paper’s “Beer Baron,” said he was the nightlife reporter at the Green Bay Press-Gazette when that paper’s anonymous beer writer chose to retire. Drosner was chosen as the replacement, but had to write in the anonymous columnist’s voice. He continued the column on a sporadic basis even while working at the State Journal. Then a State Journal editor asked him to write his own, bylined column for the Madison paper, and the Beer Baron was born.