True or False?
- Before writing a history of a San Diego area brewery, you need to do some research.
- Before sitting down with a brewer or brewery owner, you need to do some research.
- Doing a search on the internet is the best place to do your research.
- The brewery tasting room is the best place for an interview.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING:
Oral History Best Practices (Oral History Association)
Is Your Oral History Ethical and Legal? (Oral History Society)
Before meeting with the narrators
Have any permission forms for recording or sharing information ready.
Create a list of potential questions but be open to wherever the interview takes you.
Have your recording device fully charged!
You should have certain facts established and can develop questions from missing or conflicting information.
- When was the business founded.
- who are the owners (are they the brewers as well?)
- If the owners are not the brewers, who are the 'boots on the ground'?
- If a corporation, who are the members?
- Did they start up the brewery or buy an existing operation?
- Locations, both past and present.
- Some sense of the focus or theme of the brewery.
- Review any events calendar on their website.
- Do they have an "About" or "History" page?
Sit in as quiet an area as possible.
Review the permission form and make any changes needed or clarify questions.
Turn on the equipment and identify yourself and the date of the recording.
Have the narrator identify themselves and where they are being interviewed. (This provides a baseline for any transcription.)
Sample questions to include in your prompt
Keep in mind each narrator's experience is different and they will tell you what they find important (or can remember.) You can ask for clarification on statements, but do not plan on 'leading the witness'. If they decline to answer a question, let it go as there may be something sensitive they do not wish to record.
Start with verifying the facts you have discovered in your research (when the business started, etc.) as this will help ease the narrator into the process.
- What path did they follow to this business?
- What is the educational and practical background of the founders/owners/brewers?
- Do they have anyone they consider a mentor?
- Have they mentored anyone or had an employee start another brewery?
- Are all owners active in the operation or are some silent partners?
- How did they come up with the name of their business?
- What is their philosophy (for both their beers and their environment?)
- Do they sponsor any charities or causes?
- What styles of beers did they start with?
- Do they have a favorite beer style?
- is there any style of beer they haven't tried brewing that they are considering?
- Do they belong to any brewing organizations/merchant associations?
- How do they view the San Diego brewing community?
- What are future plans? Physical expansion, product expansion, or ???
- Where do they see the current brewery scene looking like in 5, 10 or 20 years? (Both San Diego and broader view)
These can range from "What do you do with your spent grain?" to "if you hadn't opened a brewery, what would you be doing instead?"
Closing the interview
Thank the narrator for their time and turn off the recorder.
If this is for the Brewchivetm records, I explain the transcription will be provided to them for review (there may be something they wish to edit).