The Gnarly Gnome’s Beer Journey

Local podcaster Andrew Desenberg, a.k.a. The Gnarly Gnome, continues to spread the gospel of the Queen City’s craft brewing goodness.
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Andrew Desenberg, a.k.a. The Gnarly Gnome, tells the story of his journey from blogger to podcaster, why it’s hard to choose a favorite beer (and brewery), and how he got that wacky nickname.

ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS DANGER

How did you get into podcasting?

I sort of fell into podcasting. I had been a beer blogger for a little while and ran into a great guy, Mike Cisneros, at a local brewery. After a brief chat, he mentioned that he had been toying with an idea for something and wanted to know if I minded if he shot me an e-mail. That next morning, I had a full breakdown of a show called Cincy Brewcast. He had planned out this incredible show. Formatted like a newscast, it had segments, reporters on location, event coverage…it was incredible. A week later, we were sitting around his kitchen table recording episode one. The format of the show has certainly changed over the years, but that’s how it started. Mike passed away in 2016 but without that chance meeting at a taproom bar, I don’t know if any of this would look like it does today.

Where did the name “the Gnarly Gnome” come from?

It started with one gnome. He was a doorstop in my apartment when I was younger. People started noticing him and then slowly gifting me more gnomes here and there. Once I moved in with my wife, they were banished to the basement of our house. Eventually, I took on the task of building a bar in the basement and upon completion, was trying to name it. The gnomes were all around me, staring at me. Begging. It had to be the Gnarly Gnome Tavern. As I started up my beer blog, I wanted someone to be the face of it. The internet thrives on narcissism, and I wanted a character that could be something else. It couldn’t revolve around me and my opinions. I was sitting at the bar racking my brain. Then those eyes. I knew whose blog it was.

If you had to pick a favorite locally brewed beer, which would you pick and why?

I get asked this a lot and it’s simply probably the one in front of me. Beer is about situations and experiences. I can remember some amazing beers that were amazing because of the folks I had them with. The actual product is important, but far less so than the other stuff that it shares its time with. The same beer can taste very different in three different places with three different drinking companions.

How has the pandemic changed your work?

Things haven’t changed for me too much, other than understanding the value of having a beer with a friend or family member a lot more. The times where we couldn’t see smiles behind masks, where we couldn’t hug our friends, or sit in a dark bar with a cold beer and watch a football game. I’ll never take that for granted again.

What’s your favorite local brewery and why?

I honestly don’t have a “favorite.” I can find something to appreciate about all of them. No matter what mood you’re in, who you’re with, or what you’re looking for, there is a place to satisfy that. We’re really lucky here.

How has the craft beer boom affected changed the industry in recent years?

Beer has become much more understood, more normal.  You can walk into a bowling alley and not just get, but have a choice between several, locally brewed beers. Beer is finding its way back into the fabric of society in a very real and healthy way.

Anything else you want our readers to know?

Be Gnarly. That means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But find what it means to you. Life is short, surround yourself with the folks who are their own kind of Gnarly. Enjoy yourself, preferably with a cold drink in your hand.

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