The ritual of oral storytelling is best practiced over beers. To share pints is to share stories; to soak up the lives of those around us. Pallet magazine is a new quarterly dedicated to this beer-centric storytelling. It’s designed for “those who like to think and drink”. Pallet comes from the minds of Rick Bannister and Nadia Saccardo, two founding editors of Smith Journal.
“We left Smith Journal and were bouncing around ideas of what to do,” says Saccardo. “All these ideas had a beer-y thread to them. Rick has a background in brewing, so this idea for a craft-beer-centric mag came about.” Some years ago, after a stint travelling, Bannister took a break from publishing to enter the Australian brewing industry.
“I ended up working in [brewing] for nearly five years,” he says. “From being out in the brewery, to doing deliveries and logistics. What I found is that people who are into craft beer are intellectually curious people. They’re a little bit left-of-centre, not mainstream thinkers.
“The whole time I was working in the brewing industry, I’d see these mags come to the brewery, and even the brewers weren’t reading them … That’s what led to the idea: what if a beer mag reflected the craft-beer drinker, and not the craft-beer industry?”
The indifference towards existing industry publications always remained with Bannister. Fascinated by the personalities surrounding craft beers, Saccardo and Bannister undertook an international pilgrimage.
“We went to America, the spiritual heartland of craft beer,” Saccardo says. “We went all over the country, meeting with brewers and some of the publishers doing really cool things. We were sussing out if there was a gap for a publication like Pallet. We got a sense that this would be possible, that there was demand for it.”
Issue one of Pallet is already appearing on shelves around the United States. Its pages are artfully, playfully eclectic. There’s an adoring feature about the boisterous Dolly Parton; amazing tales of intersecting celebrity careers; an exposé on the lost art of Zambian rock; and a series of artist-brewer collaborations that pay homage to Breaking Bad. The Pallet layout is fastidiously designed, so the whole experience goes down smooth.
“It’s nice to be the true directors of something,” Bannister says with pride. “There’s a lot of freedom … You get great satisfaction from knowing it’s your own idea, and you get to see it come to life.”
“We share the editorial load together,” Saccardo explains. “There’s the running of the business; the nitty gritty that goes into printing and distributing something like this. I guess you could say we’re founders, publishers and editors.”
As Pallet started taking shape, Saccardo thought up an executive editor role – someone to champion the magazine across the United States. She and Bannister aimed high and secured craft-beer royalty for the job: Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware.
“Sam is the biggest name in craft beer,” Bannister says. “He’s had his own TV series on Discovery [called Brew Masters] and a few books. We just emailed him out of the blue and he was into the concept. He’s really helped the whole thing come together.”
“Sam’s coming to Australia in December for a few launch events,” he says. “No one’s been able to get him out here before, so there’s a lot of excited beer geeks out there.” We count ourselves among those beer geeks, but are even more excited by future issues. Pallet is truly the raucous pub chat, refined and visualised, in stunning print.
Pallet is currently available online, but will appear on Australian shelves from early 2016.