Interview: Pallet Magazine

Co-founded by two Australians, the new quarterly isn't just about beer

A high-quality quarterly for “people who like to think and drink,” the recently launched print publication Pallet is decidedly not a craft beer journal. Instead, Australian co-founders Nadia Saccardo and Rick Bannister use the subject as a jumping off point for larger curiosities, but ones that would speak spiritually to those who tend to enjoy a pint of small-batch brew. The first issue (complete with a cover by artist Keith Shore, resident label maker for Mikkeller beers), for example, takes a look at America’s truck drivers through an intriguing photo essay, unfolds a literary think piece on Dolly Parton’s enduring career and offers insights from funny man Eric Wareheim of famed comic duo, Tim and Eric. Pallet’s unique take even caught the interest of everyone’s favorite experimental brewmaster, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, who signed on early as Executive Editor.

Saccardo and Bannister have just dropped Issue Two, which drills deeper into their ethos that they’re “only interested in everything.” You’ll find an a guide to plants that can be turned into booze by The Drunken Botanist author Amy Stewart (set to illustrations by We Buy Your Kids), an in-depth look at the Yakuza, label artwork inspired by Bruce Willis films, as well as a cover created by feature subject Dave Eggers. We checked in with the hardworking Aussies to find out more about how they came to create such an editorial stunner.

What motivated you to start Pallet?

Rick Bannister: I’d spent my whole career in indie publishing, but took a detour to study brewing and ended up working in the craft beer industry for almost five years. During that time, I met so many passionate and interesting people, and I always thought it was a shame there wasn’t a great magazine for them. Or more specifically, a mag that reflected them and their wide range of interests, beyond just beer.

How do you guys know each other?

RB: Nadia and I started working together on a magazine called Smith Journal. Previous to that, I’d edited a lot of different magazines, from surf to travel to optometry, and Nadia wrote for a lot of different mags too. She was also the publisher at The Thousands, a successful website. Basically, she’s the one with the books smarts, who can spell and knows punctuation, and I’m the one who comes up with the dumb ideas.

How long was the idea for Pallet swimming around in your mind before you decided to go for it?

Nadia Saccardo: In mid-2014 we were both at a bit of a loose end, and Rick floated the idea of a beer-ish mag. I loved the concept, so we started to work it up. Toward the end of that year, we took a road trip round the States—the spiritual heartland of craft beer—to visit breweries and publishers to see if the mag could potentially work. The response was solid, so we set to work raising the money to make it happen. Suddenly we were a start-up, asking people to invest in a print mag… It was an interesting sell.

Why did you decide to bring Sam on board, and how is he involved today?

NS: Sam is a great collaborator in craft beer land and across the board: He’s an English major, he’s written books, launched TV shows, and his creative side projects extend to music and hotels. We thought he might be interested in the mag so we contacted him through a friend and pitched the idea. He was into it, invited us to Delaware, and after a few beers he was in. At that point the idea was still fledgling, but Sam threw his weight behind us straight away. He’s also the kind of person we created the mag for—curious minded and interested in everything. As Executive Editor he contributes the odd offbeat idea, and helps us connect the mag with likeminded people.

What’s been the most creatively rewarding part of creating a magazine?

NS: There are so many parts to this, but working with heaps of crazy-talented people to bring stories to life is a high point.

What’s your favorite craft beer?

RB: I have a soft spot for Pliny from Russian River Brewing. Beers are a great way of reinforcing memories and that one is like a liquid postcard for me, from a road trip through Northern California a few years back.

NS: I reckon Other Half Brewing’s single-hop IPAs are really, really good.

What do you hope people will take away from reading Pallet?

RB: Reading Pallet should be like meeting someone new at the pub. Someone who’s a bit nerdy, but friendly and also funny. Someone who knows a lot about a broad range of subjects, and who loves turning you onto new ideas and different ways of thinking, all by telling great stories.

Who would you love to share a beer with?

RB: Elvis. What could be better than kicking back inside Graceland, sitting around the piano as The King played a few tunes and eating Memphis BBQ.

NS: Amy Poehler. She’s so damn smart, hard-working, funny, uncompromising, human… Amy if you ever read this I would like to buy you a beer and say nice things about you and it could get awkward.

Pallet Issue Two hits newsstands today, or buy it online for $15.

Images courtesy of Pallet