Why Sven Almenning launched a podcast for the bar business

Sven Almenning’s podcast, Ananas, is now eight episodes into conversations with the industry’s best. Photo: Supplied

If you pay attention to the media world at all, you’ll note that one of the Big Things of the last few years is the return of the podcast.

For a technology that got going (the first time) when iPods were still a thing (in a before-iPhone world), podcasts returned to the popular imagine with the release of the immensely popular Serial in 2014.

Since then, it seems like having a podcast is as essential to life in 2019 as it is to have a side hustle.

And the bar world is beginning to be well-served with podcasts. In the US, Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards recognised this trend with the addition of a new award for podcasts (and broadcasts and video) last year, with pods such as Erick Castro’s Bartender At Large, and the Life Behind Bars shows from The Daily Beast’s David Wondrich and Noah Rothbaum being two podcasts of note among the finalists (Life Behind Bars ended up winning).

And here in Australia, Sven Almenning has one too. You may know him as the guy who, with business partner Greg Sanderson, has built the Speakeasy Group (Eau de Vie Melbourne and Sydney, Mjolner Melbourne and Sydney, Nick & Nora’s, Boilermaker House) into the formidable hospitality group it is today. Almenning’s podcast, Ananas, is now eight episodes into conversations with the industry’s best.


It’s named for Almenning’s online hospitality training and management platform, Ananas, and this week’s episode features Almenning speaking to our very own David Spanton, publisher and founder of Australian Bartender magazine.

Almenning has also spoken to international luminaries like Jacob Briars and Simon Ford, as well as Australian captains of industry, like Anton Forte and Paige Aubort.

Below, we asked Almenning why he’s doing the podcast, and what are some of his favourite pods to listen to.

Take a look at our chat to Almenning below, and check out Almenning’s wherever you get yours (you can find them on Apple Podcasts here and in Spotify, here).

What’s the idea behind the podcast — why are you doing it? Who is it for?
The whole idea behind the Ananas Podcast is to show people where are a career in hospitality can take you. I think a lot of people have this idea that being a bartender, a waiter or a barista etc is a dead-end job with no ‘real’ career prospects. Obviously this is both misguided and incorrect, and part of what we are hoping to do with the Ananas podcast is to set this straight. By interviewing amazingly successful and ambitious people we can show people how far this industry can take you, as well as share some of the tools, tricks and tips on how these people got to where they are today.

I suppose we want to inspire people to succeed in what I believe is an amazing industry.

With regards to who it’s for, I think it’s aimed at anyone who wants to be the best they can be. Obviously we’re specifically talking to hospitality people. I hope there is something there for everyone, from the beginner who’s just started out all the way up to us older folk who think we have seen and heard it all. That said, I know a fair few non-industry people who listen to it as well.

What is it about the podcast format that you enjoy?
I think a podcast allows us to really dig deep into the detail. We’re not constrained by a word count, by column space or printing costs. Our podcasts are long format podcasts that last from an hour to an hour and a half depending on the person we are talking with, and with so much freedom I find we are able to really cover a lot of ground. Sometimes the real gems are where you least expect them. I also find that people really open up on a podcast and just like a normal conversation we often end up taking a whole bunch of detours.

How has the response been so far?
We’ve only done eight episodes so far, but the response has been great! So far 55% of our listeners are in Australia, 31% are based in the U.S and the rest are spread across Europe and Asia. Most of the people reaching out to me directly seem to be owner/operators so it seems the business angle that we have taken in a few of our podcasts are proving popular with them.

What are some of your favourite podcasts to listen to?
I love podcasts and listen to quite a few regularly. Mine are mostly focused on entrepreneurship, or tech and science. Some of my favourites include: The Tim Ferris Show, How I Built This with Guy Raz, Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman, Business Wars, Should this Exist & The School of Greatness. I am also a big fan of Marcus Motteram’s Podcast, Living Proof.