“Beer writing, well crafted” goes the tagline for Hop Culture, an online daily lifestyle magazine for the newest generation of craft beer drinkers. The magazine’s founder and editor-in-chief is Chatham MFA in Creative Writing student Kenny Gould, ’17.
Hop Culture—which boasts a masthead that includes several Chatham Masters of Arts in Food Studies graduates as well as current Chatham graduate and undergraduate students—features new content daily. Beer-focused travel guides outline realistic itineraries (see Pittsburgh, Denver, and Boston). In addition to travel, sections dedicated to people, gear, beer, and culture feature interviews, definitions (what is a gueuze?), book reviews, and a “Cheers to Science” series, in which the magazine recognizes an extraordinary scientist by pairing him or her with an extraordinary beer—a refreshing diversity of content for what might seem like a narrow focus.
“A professor once told me that when you’re writing about food or drink, you’re never writing only about food or drink,” says Gould. “You’re writing about history, culture, traditions, people. There’s only so much you can say about a beverage with only four ingredients.”
After graduating from Duke University with a degree in English, Gould moved to New York City, where he wrote for a men’s lifestyle website called Gear Patrol. Then he moved out west for a fellowship with an urban farm in Berkeley, CA. Soon he found himself ready for a new chapter, and began looking into graduate programs.
“I found Chatham’s program, and I really think it’s the foremost program for writing about the environment and place, which was something that really interested me,” he says. “It was the only school I applied to.”
Gould says that the idea for Hop Culture began on a class trip to Peru with MFA Program Director and Professor Sheryl St. Germain, PhD. “I was reading a guidebook Sheryl lent me, and wondered why there wasn’t such a thing for beer,” says Gould, who had been interested in craft beers for years, even developing a beer-of-the-week program as an undergraduate. “I thought I could do a big road trip and write about the best breweries in the US. Then I realized that there are 5000 breweries in the US, and I couldn’t possibly pick and choose. Then I thought I’d write nine books, one for each of the districts the census bureau splits the US into, but then I thought that no one reads books anymore. This current project has really brought together everything I’m interested in—writing, beer, sense of place, and the online component.”
Chatham University’s groundbreaking MFA focusing on nature, travel writing, and social outreach is the premier graduate program for nurturing students interested in place-based writing and innovative community programs.