One day I ran across a southern gal reviewing craft beers on Instagram. Her reviews were charming, filled with colloquialisms that I’d never heard applied to craft beers AND she knew her stuff. I dug a little further and found out the reviewer, Krystal, is a creation of a craft beer-loving actress named Meredith Riley Stewart. Stewart was using the character to show her love for craft beer and at the same time spread awareness of her upcoming web series, Southern Dish.
Today, the first episode of the Southern Dish pilot season will be released. The series follows Krystal, a good southern gal from Catchatubbee that moved to New York for a more exciting life. During these early episodes we get a GLIMPSE into Krystal’s life, her friends and the patrons at her new bar named Southern Dish. But after watching some early footage and Krystal’s beer reviews, I wanted to learn more about her move to New York, her southern take on the North and what she thought of craft beer. So I interviewed Krystal….
How did you first get into craft beer?
Well honey let me tell you what. In the South, where they call 4% abv high gravity, anything higgher is Satan spawn. But when I moved up north I went to beer week in Philadelphia and New York and fell in love. There’s lots of breweries doing crazy stuff like Rogue’s Sriracha or Dogfish brewing some recipe from Tutankhamun’s tomb or some shit like that. But Unibrou opened my eyes because they’re French. I met the brewer at The Philadelphia Beer Week. Funny man in a tiny little bowler hat. We hit it off and were thick as thieves. Their La Fin Du Monde is the best in the world. That’s the one that made me think, “Maybe it ain’t all Bud Light and Miller Lite bullshit. Maybe I aught to try some of this high gravity beer that would send me straight to hell.”
Why did you start reviewing craft beer?
If there’s one thing I got, it’s opinions. I built a soap box on which to preach. So I got a camera, I have a face for TV and this beautiful hair. I’m not one of these high highfalutin reviewers, with all their smellin’ and swirlin’ and swishin’. I just wanna enjoy a good beer.
You’re a good southern lady, but it’s most common to see a mustached man fussing over his beer. Has the fact that you’re not that fussy, facial-hair covered gent helped or hurt your viewers’ perception of your reviews?
I don’t much worry with what other folks is sayin’. My favorite quote is from Loretta Lynn “If you’re lookin’ at me you’re lookin’ at country.” I just do my thang and hope I can turn some more ladies onto craft beer.
What’s in your fridge back in New York?
Southern Tier, which sounded appropriate for my southern leanings, but it has nothing to do with the South. My favorite Halloween tradition is to buy a fresh Pumking and compare it to last year’s. Then there’s some of Stone’s new stuff from their Enjoy After Series. I’m gonna get at that when I get back home. And finally some cans of Porkslap Pale Ale. The can is hilarious because I like those little fat pigs stickin’ their bellies out. That’s how I always get lured into a BBQ restaurant. Those happy pigs with a fork and knife that look so happy that you’re about to eat their momma. Course, I always got some menner cheese (short for paminto cheese) in there too. I’ve had to teach many a Yankee about menner cheese.
I’m trying to bridge that gap from the war of the ‘60s. You know 1860s. That’s my goal in life to bridge that gap between northerners and southerners. I invite my neighbors in to cuss and discuss this predicament. I’m gonna do my best to educate these Yankees. Especially teach them about menner cheese and how to make grits. I wouldn’t recommend buying grits north of The Mason Dixon. It’s a travesty. It’s embarrassing.
What is your hometown of Catchatubbee like?
Catchatubbee is like Mayberry, if they were all damn Gomer Pyles, with a heavy sprinklin’ of redneck. We have the same road kill and fireworks stands as every other city in the South. My mommy and daddy couldn’t send me to beauty school, even though I was a 4H champion hair braider. Of course it was horse hair. I was modelin’ and photographin’ and braidin’, but it was for horses. No matter, once I was in, I was in.
Why did you decide to leave Catchatubbee?
Honey when you live in a town like Catchatubbee, the interest of locals is pretty limited. Hell, a little town near Catchatubbee called Opportunity had to change its name to Opp because no one could spell it. I realized there wasn’t any opportunity down south for me. I decided there was more to life than dancing on a pole at Petticoat Junction.
Why did you move to New York?
Well, I knew I had to get the hell outta that town and I saw an ad for a mail order bride. It was a real estate magnate who wanted to piss off his children and wanted a savvy southerner. And that was me. So that was my real reason for going up to New York City.
Who is your husband? Have I heard of him?
He is such a well-known magnate that I don’t wanna throw his name around or else it’ll end up in The New York Post next to a picture of Kim Kardashian’s butt. He’s 86 and I just dote on him. I make sure he takes his pills and fix him dinner. And I have my place on the side where I bar and get to be queen.
Ok, I’ll take the hint. You’d rather talk about the bar than your husband. Tell me about your employees. Who are some of your regulars?
I brought my best friend Darlene up. She had a sorry ass husband that wun’t never gonna take her anywhere but the package store. I’m trying to get her into craft beer, but she’s into pie. Then, there’s my bartender, Mike, who takes care of business and my cute little bar back, we call him “Cute But Stupid”. I call him “Cutie Pie” to his face… Maybe that’s why Darlene says she likes pie.
I have a favorite regular, but I don’t know her real name. We call her “Whatawino” because she comes in, buys a bottle of wine and pretends she has a date that never shows up. She’s a sad story. I put her on my prayer list. There are other beer chugging regulars, but that’s about everyone whose names are worth mentionin’.
What is the most outrageous thing that’s happened at your bar?
I think the surprise is worth waiting for. Good times are had by all who enter Southern Dish.
We’ll all have to subscribe to The Southern Dish’s Youtube channel for more craft beer reviews and interviews with celebrities like Leslie Jordan and visit SouthernDish.tv to see what messes Krystal and her friends get into. New episodes will air every Thursday and as Krystal told me “If you laughed then share it.”
Enjoy Your Craft,
Ben Esely is a co-founder and the Brewer Interviewer for Beer Drinkers Society.