Profs & Pints in Annapolis stimulates inquiring minds with suds, grub and a lecture

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Timothy Koeth, an assistant professor at University of Maryland College Park gives lecture for installment of Profs and Pints at the Graduate Hotel near downtown Annapolis.

Tuesdays are usually slow nights for the restaurant inside the Graduate Hotel in Annapolis, but this week it was packed with a crowd of of more than 30 people ordering beer and dinner as they listened to a lecture about a piece of uranium that may have been part of a Nazi nuclear reactor from World War II.

Leading the scholarly talk at the Trophy Room earlier this month was Timothy Koeth, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland and Miriam Hiebert, a contract researcher at the Smithsonian Institution. The event was offered by Profs and Pints, a company started by Peter Schmidt five years ago as a way to offer a unique education to the public by hosting college professors who discuss topics such as astronomy, history, folklore and philosophy.


Schmidt reached out to Koeth after a few scientific publications wrote about his work. The opportunity to give a lecture to a group outside his typical academic circles excited him.

“This format is unlike anything else I’ve done teaching-wise,” Koeth said. “It’s so much fun. It’s been my life’s work to talk about nuclear science so this is a great opportunity to share my knowledge.”


In one of the booths soaking in the knowledge and beer during Koeth’s lecture were friends and Annapolis residents Katie Zeglis and Mark Boaz. This was their second Profs and Pints event; last month’s was on Viking culture.

“We have been at home watching a documentary on Chernobyl,” said Zeglis, referencing the Ukrainian nuclear reactor meltdown in 1986. ‘So, when we saw that the focus of this discussion was about nuclear energy during war, this was right down our alley.”

Profs and Pints is a great way to spend an evening because guests get to learn from a subject matter expert, Boaz said.

“A nice inquisitive crowd, a professor with tons of information and great food and drinks – I think it’s a great date,” he said.

Schmidt started Profs and Pints in the summer of 2017 after getting laid off following a 20-year career in journalism. He worked for the Detroit Free Press i before moving to Washington, where he began to report on education. He would go on to write for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

He debated going back to school or teaching, but he couldn’t help but notice how expensive tuition had become. Schmidt was left wondering what he could do that would be as interesting and rewarding to him as journalism.

Schmidt got the idea of resurrecting the ancient Greek model of higher learning, in which people gathered around scholars and paid on the spot to hear what they have to say?

He took the idea to a local comedy club in Washington in October 2017, offering to bolster the venue’s food and drink sales for a night in exchange to rent out the space. The owner obliged, and Profs and Pints was born.


Now the company has hosted over 500 scholarly talks and sold over 41,000 total tickets, filling comedy clubs, hotels and brewpubs across the country, including in Annapolis, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Nashville, Philadelphia and Richmond.

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Schmidt’s goal is to continue to expand the brand by spreading to new cities. That plan was jeopardized when the COVID-19 pandemic struck nearly three years ago. For two years, Schmidt wasn’t able to fill venues. He tried to move it to virtual lectures, which worked for a while and allowed for national and even international lecturers, but eventually online fatigue set in, and he struggled to keep up participation.

He had a choice, to either let the business go and pivot careers once again or to go all in. Schmidt chose the latter.

Schmidt said it’s been tough to navigate such a trying time especially as he continues to fund the company himself with his savings but his faith in the business model and the success he’s had when the world is back to normal keeps him pushing forward.

Profs and Pints isn’t just a for-profit, but a for-profit social enterprise, since it yields both financial and social returns. Schmidt says it has operated much like a nonprofit and will continue to do so.

“My dream to get stuck in an elevator with a rich benefactor has not come to fruition yet, but I’m keeping hope alive,” he said.


Profs and Pints has upcoming events in Washington covering Polynesian culture, dopamine, food fights and Kanye West.

To learn more about Profs and Pints and find out about upcoming events, visit Tickets cost $12 in advanced $15 at the door and $13 with student ID.