Yeah, you read rightBEERCASTING with a "b". It seems like the idea was to take traditional podcasts and make them, you know, more fun.
Beercasting originated about a year ago in November 2004. The concept was to record social conversations in bars which revolve around one particular topic. Of course, it's not exactly spontaneously planned when the host brings a suitcase stuffed with, say, eight mikes, four mixers, 120 feet of microphone cable, 25 feet of extension cords and 4 iRiver mp3 recorders. Greg Narain, considered to be the father of beercasting, explains that podcasting is like talk radio, but beercasting is more like a live talk show. I guess what's distinctive is that participants can chime in whenever they want to, making the whole experience somewhat natural.
There have been "squads" in Vancouver, New York, California, DC, Oregon, Texas and elsewhere. A lot of the archived beercasts I found seem to have been recorded in early 2005. There is a company that grew out of the craze, sparkcasting.com. Newsday and CBS have covered the issue, but unfortunately I couldn't find live links to the full articles. There's part of the Newsday article here. Here's vlogger and art teacher Bre Pettis of imakethings.com's interview with Greg Narain.
I was excited to listen to the archives from the Goose Hollow in Portland and to hear drunk Bostonians singing old Tom Lehrer songs (a propos of no particular topic I could discern). I have to admit that in comparing beercasts in Portland, DC and Vancouver all basically about the topic of hooking up (an experimental constant), the Canadians were funniest and the group I'd probably most like hanging out with.
There isn't a lot of recent news about the phenomenon or many beercasts recorded in the past six months. I'm wondering if the fad has died down to a significant extent. Podcasting Hacks, a book published in August '05 by Jack Herrington, has a chapter by Greg Narain about how to start your own beercast.