As our listeners will know, our podcast has always been focused on the beer community in Sheffield and has a very large social element to it. Three months ago when lockdown began (we know! Three months!) and pubs were closed, that all pretty much stopped overnight.
Of course, like everyone, we all had hugely important things to deal with as a result and so the podcast briefly took a bit of a back seat. However, it wasn’t long before people in all areas of the industry started adapting or diversifying to make things work… focusing on small pack beers, local and national deliveries, online stores, virtual meet the brewer events, makeshift bottle shops, and takeaway services. And so we thought this was something we could embrace, bring back some social time for us all, and make our Hopcast work in the new environment we’re all living in. So, we utilized what technology and equipment we had, tweaked our usual monthly format, and started putting out weekly episodes using Zoom.
The somewhat overnight sensation that is Zoom has proved really handy for us. Not only does it keep that face-to-face feel we had from the days recording in the pub, which we’ve all found a huge boost to our weeks and something for us to look forward to, but it also gave us the ability to record not only the audio but also video.
Video is something we’d dabbled in a while ago when we recorded a series of our shorter ‘Halfpint’ episodes. Although they never really got much traction, these were still a nice option for those wanting a more visual experience from the podcast. A few months down the line from committing to video more thoroughly, and releasing video versions of our podcasts on YouTube, we do seem to have expanded our audience a little and although not massive, we’ve had nearly 5,000 watch minutes racked in the last month and as I write, just hit 10,000 watched minutes of our lockdown episodes since we started at the end of March… that might not sound huge, but it’s 10,000 more than it was before lockdown, so we are happy with that! And this is in addition to our usual audio-only format, which is still available in all of the usual places.
Next week we try something else new. Something involving our listeners/viewers even more… Sheffield Hopfest! This is our answer to a virtual podcast/mini beer festival where we are inviting people on to 4 sessions over a weekend to drink and chat over 4 different beer themes. Within a couple of days, over 50% of the tickets have already been snapped up. Each of us is hosting a session based around our chosen theme, and we’re all really looking forward to it. If this is something you fancy getting involved in, head to https://www.eventbrite.com/o/sheffield-hopcast-30455146094 for all the details and to reserve your free spot.
So lockdown has not been all bad, it’s actually been quite fun to have the opportunity and time to do something a little different and we are looking forward to seeing how this influences our output when all this is over.
Thanks to all our guests over the weeks and months, to our listeners new and old, we look forward to chatting to some of you at Sheffield Hopfest and the rest of your down the pub when it’s safe to do so.
Adam, James, Laura and Sean x