Meet the podcast host who covers Central Florida breweries, geek culture

Lauren Freeman, Matt Roth host ‘Hops Geek News’

ORLANDO, Fla. – Lauren Freeman and Matt Roth know the ingredients to the perfect podcast are simple — friendship, beer and geek culture.

That’s what they cooked up during quarantine, when all of us were holed away in our houses, deep in sourdough starter kits and Zoom happy hours.

“Everybody’s stuck in their house. We didn’t know what to do,” said Freeman, who lives in Orlando. “We had been writing beer articles for this website called Hops News and I was writing our article showcasing the local craft beers at Disney World. When we were all stuck in our house, the guy who runs the website was like, ‘Hey, you guys want to do a podcast?’ What else were we gonna do? So yeah, we started interviewing local breweries.”

Freeman and Roth, who is based in Idaho, started to scour their areas for the best breweries — Central 28 Beer Company, Ivanhoe Park Brewing Co., Deadwords Brewing — and featured the local beer makers on their podcast. But the pair often found themselves going off on tangents, talking “Star Wars,” that “Game of Thrones” ending and everything nerd culture.

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Matt Roth and Lauren Freeman, hosts of Hops Geek News, enjoying a beer in Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios. (Hops Geek News)

Thus, “Hops Geek News” was born. A podcast where they could discuss all the latest in the ever-expanding comic and film franchises while supporting local breweries and sipping on any number of their IPAs, stouts, sours and ales.

“Almost three years later, we’re still doing an episode every week, interviewing comic book creators, brewery owners... doing deep dives into different comic book characters before a movie comes out,” she said.

Freeman said they’ve interviewed everyone from Darick Robertson, co-creator of the hit comic and TV series “The Boys,” to Jeff Anderson and Brian O’Halloran, who play Randal Graves and Dante Hicks in Kevin Smith’s iconic “Clerks” movie series. They’ve attended fan conventions near and far — MegaCon in Orlando, FanX in Salt Lake City, Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle. They’ve even dipped their toes in hosting panels, most recently a Disney trivia one at this year’s MegaCon.

“It’s been a lot of fun. And we’ve met people I never would have imagined we’d be sitting down talking with,” said Freeman, who dives deep into a rabbit hole of research before sitting down to chat with these creators. “I actually have some Marvel encyclopedias because when you’re into this stuff, that’s what people tend to get you for Christmas if they don’t know what to get you. So I always start at the index. And then I go to or Wookieepedia is a great resource as well.”

Matt Roth and Lauren Freeman, hosts of Hops Geek News, showing off their passes signed by Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson, of the "Clerks" movies, at Fan X in Salt Lake City. (Hops Geek News)

Freeman added that the podcast is big on the fun facts and backstories, exploring things that people might not already know about their favorite franchises.

“How I fell in love with comic books was as an adult going to see, Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man) and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and being like, ‘I want to know more about these characters and their backstories.’ So that’s essentially what we’re doing,” the host said. “Basically anytime something new comes up we do try to do an episode about it or right before.”

That’s exactly what they did in one of their latest episodes, when discussing Adam Warlock, a character appearing in the newly released “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”

And Freeman teased even more on the horizon, including an interview with Vanessa Marshall, the voice of Hera Syndulla in “Star Wars Rebels” out next week.

You can listen to “Hops Geek News” wherever you get your podcasts. To find out more, click here.

And for a full list of Freeman’s Disney and Central Florida beer recommendations, listen to the full interview in the video player above.

Lauren Freeman, one half of Hops Geek News, posing in Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios. (Hops Geek News)

Check out the Florida Foodie podcast. You can find every episode in the media player below:

About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.