For a lot of people, living out their dreams isn’t always realistic. The monotony of day-to-day existence and the ever-present need to pay bills can wear people down; many find comfort instead in the pursuit of stability and security.
But for some, like Benedict Kennedy-Cox, pushing the boundaries and exploring new territory is too tempting to resist. These days, the spirit of adventure has taken him from his days in advertising and marketing into the world of comedy writing (including a year or so as a standup comic) to the point where he's now forging his own path through the local beer world and taking an online audience with him.
His first forays into craft beer involved hosting shows on social media under the moniker of Benny’s Beer Reviews, but more recently he's launched a series – Benny Sent Ya – that combines a travel element with the breweries, bars and beers.
For Benny, the love of beer predates his discovery of craft beer: it started to blossom after he turned 18 and was gifted a book by his grandparents at Christmas called Beer: A Gauge for Enthusiasts, by Greg Duncan-Powell.
“It just ran through all the different types of beers that were out there and the differences between them," Benny says. "That really introduced me to so many different beers and different styles, so that’s what really started my interest.”
Then there was the Old Bar bottleshop on the NSW coast...
"It was so amazing walking in there and seeing all the different beers," he recalls, "and I'm talking Toohey's and Carlton here – that was exciting to me back then. I've still got the stubby holder."
Interest piqued, he started exploring new and different beers, aided by gifts such as one from an aunt.
"She bought be a mixed crate of beers with Polish lagers and this one beer called Old Engine Oil. I remember being like, 'Wow! This is amazing!'. It was my first real experience [of those sort of beers]."
However, once his love for beer started to develop, so too did his desire to share his thoughts on what he was drinking. As a comedy writer by trade – one who was part of a team nominated for an award for their work on the Generation Beetoota podcast series* – he was able to bring a different perspective to beer too; where else have you heard someone describe drinking a rye IPA as like sucking on your favourite marble as a child?
"I want to talk about beer in a way that even people who aren't into beer can understand," he says.
That said, he admits there was never a grand plan to shoot videos about beer, let alone develop an ongoing series. Instead, it was a spur of the moment decision that has ended up guiding much of the last four years.
“I was at the bottleshop around four years ago and I saw Coopers had just released Coopers Clear, and it just looked so cool,” he says.
“When I got home, for whatever reason, I decided I would film a quick video of me drinking it and reviewing it and posting it on Facebook. A lot of people responded to it, so I just kept posting videos like it and haven’t stopped since.”
Given he lives in Dulwich Hill, next to the craft brewery hotspot that is Marrickville, he's been well placed to develop the project into something increasingly substantial. After testing the water with some filming on his phone at breweries in the Hunter Valley, it was at Small Batch he started to step things up, both in terms of the quality of the footage and the decision to include more gags.
All of which led to Benny embarking on his biggest video project to date: the web series Benny Sent Ya. To date, it consists of videos shot on trips along the South Coast of New South Wales, visiting places like Cupitt's Estate, Jervis Bay Brewing Co, Resin, Five Barrel and Flamin Galah with his girlfriend as sidekick.
There's plenty of non-beer action and laughs – at kebab shops, big things and beaches – to appeal to people who've never picked up a craft beer in their lives. And throughout the shows he's hoping to channel one of his heroes.
“I loved Anthony Bourdain, I’ve watched his show ever since I was a kid so that provided a lot of inspiration for me,” he says.
“Benny Sent Ya is me trying to do my best impression of him.”
Picking the location of the videos was also key, as he aimed to showcase regions within his home state that have been hit hardest over the past 18 months.
“I wanted to go to the South Coast of New South Wales to showcase all the amazing businesses down there, so many of which have been hit so hard by fires and COVID.”
At time of writing, he's posted two episodes to his pages.
“The early response has been amazing," Benny says. "I’ve had a lot of people telling me they want to recreate the trip.
“It’s also been amazing to hear the positive feedback from businesses and how much it means to them that I’m giving them a platform to be seen on.”
* The article originally stated they won an awarded and has since been amended.