Bringing Hop Culture home


Photo credit: Hop Culture

Maura Linehan

An entrepreneur’s greatest challenge is seeing a business opportunity and seizing that moment to act. Kenny Gould, a native of Pittsburgh, used this insight while leaning on his publishing experience and writing skills to launch a new business this year—right here in his hometown.

Gould is now editor-in-chief of the daily, online magazine, “Hop Culture,” which is an innovative way of artistically showcasing both craft beer and culture. It sprung from the experience that he and his co-founder, Travis Smith, had as full-time staffers for “Gear Patrol,” an online, Manhattan-based men’s lifestyle site. At “Gear Patrol,” Gould and Smith were responsible for the magazine’s coverage of alcohol-related subjects. At the time, they realized that despite the growing interest in craft beer, the generally low quality of the writing about that subject left room for them to step in and create their own business.

“We started at a time when not a lot of other people were writing about beer in a dynamic way, and those who were tended to appeal to a narrow demographic,” Gould said. “I’d say that we definitely felt frustrated by the state of beer writing—we saw the need for more exciting, more inclusive content, so we started ‘Hop Culture.’”

Hop Culture 1
Photo credit: Hop Culture

While it might seem that writing about beer would not require much training, in fact, the opposite is true. Gould has both an undergraduate degree from Duke University and a MFA from Chatham University. His approach to the writing process began in school where he learned the skills that he uses to produce a quality product even today.

“Kelly Alexander, [a Duke Professor], taught me how to write about food and drink in a compelling way,” Gould said. “While pursuing my MFA at Chatham, I had the privilege of studying under local writers Marc Nieson, Sherrie Flick, Paul Bilger and Sarah Shotland; all of whom helped me grow as a writer and literary citizen.”

Drawing on this writing background, the founding of “Hop Culture” came from a combination of the desire to draw an audience through the quality of its content and the founders’ desire to be true to themselves. According to Gould, anyone who wants to run a company of their own should make sure they can answer some fundamental questions about what they are attempting to start up.

“We needed to answer two questions,” Gould said. “Who are we? And who do we want to be? Once we got those answers, everything else fell into place.”

“Hop Culture” now has offices in Boston and New York in addition to its headquarters here. Among the staff, are a number of college interns from local universities who are getting to learn about what it takes to run an on-line business.

The magazine publishes new content every weekday–focusing on the products, news and people of interest to their readers. Their commitment to the product they produce reflects their focus on products that are made the same way, which appears to be setting up this startup to drive toward some big goals.

“Over the course of the next few years, we want to establish ourselves as the preeminent lifestyle publication for lovers of craft beer,” Gould said. “We have an incredible, passionate team and a lot of support from our community as well as the national industry. I’ve been extremely proud of our team and the content that we’ve been able to produce from day one.”

Hop Culture 2
Photo credit: Hop Culture

Gould recognizes the humorous side of being referred to as a “beer writer,” and he often finds people taking pause when they consider the idea of getting paid to try the product he primarily writes about. While he acknowledges their positive view of his career choice, he is more focused on the hard work that it takes to write something every day that his audience will find interesting, which will in turn make their day better because they read it. Wanting to achieve that was a big part of why “Hop Culture” exists today.



“Hop Culture” is independently published, and it is available free at

They can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @hopculturemag.