The publishing company behind “Locally Brewed: Portraits of Craft Breweries from America’s Heartland” by Anna Blessing reached out to me and sent me a copy of the book to review. I’m pretty glad they did because this was a fun and enjoyable read. The short description is that the author visited breweries from Ohio to Minnesota, some small ones and some of the most famous in the country, to interview the owners or head brewers for the story about the brewery. Here’s the blurb:
Craft brewing has exploded in popularity over the last two decades as beer
fanatics and average drinkers alike gravitate to unique, flavorful,
independently produced brews. Locally Brewed celebrates this movement,
profiling 20 Midwestern-based breweries through interviews, photos, and
Craft beer drinkers across the US sometimes forget great beer can be made away from the west coast and outside of Vermont. We Cincinnatian’s know better but this book will bring national attention to our “no-coast” area. Here’s the full list of breweries covered:
- August Schell Brewing Company; New Ulm, MN
- Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI
- Lakefront Brewery, Inc.; Milwaukee, WI
- Great Lakes Brewing Company; Cleveland, OH
- New Glarus Brewing Company; New Glarus, WI
- Three Floyds Brewing Company; Munster, IN
- Founders Brewing Company; Grand Rapids, MI
- Central Waters Brewing Company; Amherst, WI
- Dark Horse Brewing Company; Marshall, MI
- Piece Brewing and Pizzeria; Chicago, IL
- Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales; Dexter, MI
- Short’s Brewing Company; Bellaire, MI
- Surly Brewing Company, Brooklyn Center, MN
- Metropolitan Brewing; Chicago, IL
- 5 Rabbit Cerveceria; Bedford Park, Inc., IL
- Greenbush Brewing Company; Sawyer, MI
- Steel Toe Brewing; St. Louis Park, MN
- Virtue Cider; Fennville, MI
- Moody Tongue Brewing Company; Chicago, IL
- Two Brothers Brewing Company; Warrenville, IL
Many books about beer use the first chapter as a short history of beer and introduction on how it’s made. I’m glad she passed over that because I’ve read it enough but some folks may miss out on that. If that’s the case you should get Randy Mosher’s “Tasting Beer” after finishing “Locally Brewed.” Anna digs right into the breweries spending a bit of time with each one. This is definitely a book for craft beer lovers and something nice is that it’s written by somewhat of an outsider. The author is no beer hound hunting Hopslam or trading for Pliny the Elder, she’s a locavore whose previous book was about small artisanal farms in America’s heartland. It allow her to bring a fresher approach to these breweries instead of standard fanboy fawning.
She covers all the basis of how they got started, why, where they’re at now, what the future brings, what problems they’ve run into. One of the interesting bits is the number of them that contract brewed at some point or another including Three Floyds, which was a shock to me. Beyond those basics is an addition to where you can find their beers and something very cool, brewer’s playlist. In my unending quest for new, interesting, and eclectic, music I’ve built a Spotify playlist of all the brewer’s playlist songs that Spotify had.
I enjoyed this book and think you will too but it’s a bit on the light side content wise mostly filled with lots of beautiful pictures. If you’re a big fan of any of these breweries (which you should be), then you’ll dig this. Or if you’re thinking of starting up a brewery this might be on the must read list. It’s the tale of 20 breweries and how they innovated to separate themselves from the rest and grow into some of the bigger and more famous craft breweries in the country. The biggest downside is that you’ll finish this book with a new list of beers you want to try.
My single favorite takeaway is a bit from the introductory “A Word on Craft Brewing” section:
Number of barrels, ingredients, and style guidelines — none of these seems to be important. At the end of the day it’s about good beer.
If you want to check out this book, buy it on Amazon.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I was contacted by the publishing company who was kind enough to hook me up with a free copy. To our readers, and any companies interested in sending me stuff, giving me free stuff impacts the review in only 2 ways. That I WILL review it and that and I WILL write a blog post about it. Giving me free stuff does not guarantee you a favorable review.