Em Sauter is the creator of Pints and Panels, a fun cartoon detailing all the beers she enjoys. Em was kind enough to answer DC Beer’s questions. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
DCB: Tell us about yourself and your work. How long have you been drawing beers?
ES: I started Pints and Panels in 2010 during my summer break at the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. That’s a real place – I have my MFA in cartooning. I created it to give me an excuse to try as many beers as I could while starting a new drawing project. Given that Vermont is known for its beer, it seemed like a natural fit.
I update the website twice a week and also help out on weekends at Fox Farm Brewery in Salem, Connecticut, pouring their stellar range of New England IPAs, mixed culture sours, and traditional lagers. By the way, our Franconian-style Kellerbier is out of this world.
DCB: What separates you from other artists who draw beer-related comics?
ES: There’s not a lot that separates us because there aren’t that many of us (laugh). Art and beer is a natural fit but, people who are doing comics specifically about beer? There are only a few of us. Shoutout to my buddy Ken Weaver and his off-the-wall webcomic Massive Potions.
DCB: Beer lovers have strong feelings. Has there ever been a negative reaction to something you’ve drawn?
ES: I used to rate a beer by giving it between zero and four stars. Sometimes I wasn’t so pleased with what I drank. I once gave a brewery’s brown ale a low rating because I thought it was boring. The owner marched up to me and gave me an earful. I stood my ground because I didn’t think it was very good, but I also realized that trashing brands is kind of lame. There’s so much good beer to celebrate and I’d rather spend my drawing time focusing on the good ones. There’s so much good beer out there!
DCB: I’ve noticed you sometimes include beers from AB InBev and other “macro” brands. Do you ever get any blowback for drawing those brands?
ES: I haven’t. There’s a beer for every time and place, and macro beers can fit into the same space as the hyped beers. It’s all just a fermented malt beverage at the end of the day. Sometimes I just want a “Naturdays” (Natural Light). Seriously, that stuff is great.
DCB: Does your experience with Cicerone studying and training influence your art?
ES: I find with studying that every day I learn something new and if there’s something I taste or smell when I’m taking notes to one day use it in a comic – I’ve done the “so THAT’s why it would be this way.”
DCB: You are an active beer judge. Does your beer judging influence your art?
ES: There are times when I am judging beer and I’m just blown away by what I’m having, I can’t wait for it to win a medal so I can find out what it is and draw a comic about it.
DCB: Sam Calagione (founder of Dogfish Head Brewing Company) once said, and I’m paraphrasing, “The beer industry is 99% asshole free.” Has this been your experience?
There are a lot more people in the industry now so maybe it’s 80% asshole free (laughs) but it’s still widely a very inclusive and good place. Most people I meet in the industry are , passionate people. If this were any other business, the level of cutthroat competition would be insane. But breweries exist next door to each other and look for ways to help each other out. Good beer is a common goal.
DCB: What beers have you had from DC or the Mid-Atlantic and what have your experiences been?
ES: The DC beer scene is so good from 3 Stars to Right Proper. I really love Union from Baltimore. Their Duckpin Pale and Old Pro Gose are stellar. I have relatives in DC and going to visit them has been a treat to get to try everything I can get my hands on. It’s a great scene.
. I really love Union from Baltimore. Their Duckpin Pale and Old Pro Gose are stellar. I have relatives in DC and going to visit them has been a treat to get to try everything I can get my hands on. It’s a great scene.
DCB: You’ve experienced American beer culture on both east coast and west coasts, what do you feel are the major differences?
ES: I used to think Oregon and California were the trendsetters back in the day. When I lived out there in 2011 they definitely were. Big West Coast “pine bombs” were what the kids were after and Oregon had them in spades. Many of the American beer styles we know and love were invented in California—pumpkin ale, amber ale, California common, for example. Now, it’s odd to think New England, which I always thought was a little behind the times, is setting the trends. I’m a huge fan of New England IPAs and here in Connecticut, we’re obsessed with them.
DCB: What are some of your favorite trends in craft beer right now and what would you like to see more of?
ES: I love that craft brewers are embracing Czech traditions from the side pull towers to Czech Darks. it’s making me endlessly happy.
We’d like to thank Em for speaking with us. You can find her work at https://www.pintsandpanels.com