Jennifer Talley’s Session Beers: Brewing for Flavor and Balance (buy it up on Amazon) is a new book from Brewers Publications. Jennifer Talley has been perfecting session beers by brewing beers in Utah for years. She’s also been preaching the gospel of sessions beers to others, even inspiring a local homebrewer who eventually went pro.
I’ve read many brewing books, I’ve eclipsed two full shelves of them, and few excite me anymore. But Brewing Local: American-Grown Beer by Stan Hieronymus stands out as one of the more interesting ones. Most books about brewing are either introductory, very advanced, highly specific, or vague and generic.
Brewing Local stands out from all those by being specific in one unique area and covering a wide variety in that area. Instead of telling you how to make a Saison or just rattling off a list of recipes Hieronymus presents a great deal of flexibility and unique ingredients.
Today is World Book Day. Usually, I loathe these types of events like National Sibling Day, Record Store Day, or [Insert beer style here] day. Books hold a special place in my heart, and I fear too many people lack reverence for the written word. I decided long ago to make talking about books a part of this blog, so I’m pulling eight great alcohol books for you to pick up and start reading on World Book Day!
American Sour Beers is a new book coming out next week from the premier sour homebrew blogger, Michael Tonsmeire. Michael began the road to this book with his blog The Mad Fermentationist. I was constantly referred to his blog when I began looking into brewing my first sour. He’s had one of the best blogs about all things sour for years, so I’m very excited for this book.
Here’s the publisher’s blurb with my thoughts after the jump:
One of the most exciting and dynamic segments of today’s craft brewing scene , American-brewed sour beers are designed intentionally to be tart and may be inoculated with souring bacteria, fermented with wild yeast or fruit, aged in barrels or blended with younger beer. Craft brewers and homebrewers have adapted traditional European techniques to create some of the world’s most distinctive and experimental styles. This book details the wide array of processes and ingredients in American sour beer production, with actionable advice for each stage of the process. Inspiration, education and practical applications for brewers of all levels are provided by some of the country’s best known sour beer brewers.
Canned: Artwork of the Modern American Beer Can is a new craft beer book on the shelves showing off the gorgeous cans of the craft beer industry.
I got into this blogging thing because I enjoy talking about beer. At the time I didn’t expect much to come out of it except maybe a free beer or two. Luckily I have gotten a lot more out of blogging then that. Best of all has been great friends but the number of free books is close to the top.
Beer: What to Drink Next continues the trend of enjoyable review copies of books. As you may have guessed from the title the premise of the book is that it will guide you in what beer to try next, let’s see if it lives up to that claim.
I received a review copy of “The Pocket Beer Guide: The Essential Handbook to the Very Best Beers in the World” which claims to be “An on-the-go, definitive guide to more than 3,000 beers from around the world.” We’ll see if it lives up to those claims.
Sierra Nevada is now the second biggest craft brewery in America – second to Boston Beer Company – and 7th overall brewery, craft or otherwise. How does one brewery grow to be the second largest in a sea of over 2,500 breweries? Ken Grossman, founder and president of Sierra Nevada tells the breweries story, and in turn his story, in his new book “Beyond the Pale: The story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.” (Amazon Book/eBook). The publishers were kind enough to send me a copy to review and I’m sharing my thoughts with you below.
Before even cracking open The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution, just judging it by the cover, I’m psyched. I dig the play on Obama’s Audacity of Hope book (not trying to get political), turning it into Audacity of Hops. It’s also an applicable title as well because this is the story of the American craft beer movement and how American hops have pushed that movement.
The author starts with a skim through the ancient history of beer, early American beer, and prohibition in a few paragraphs. This is good for two reasons: others have covered this info extensively elsewhere and it allows him to get more in-depth with the people, places, and most importantly stories of the American craft beer movement. The Audacity of Hops goes into significant, but not overwhelming, detail about the various reckless gambles around the founding, or expansions, of many breweries as well as the contexts of the time for people and beer. The author makes this retelling enjoyable and engaging, there are plenty of facts sprinkled throughout but not page after page of yearly quantities and revenues I’ve encountered in other books.
However, the book tends to be heavy with hyperbole, especially with the early home brewers. The author makes it seem that these men, Jack McAuliffe and Fred Eckhardt, birthed a brand new discovery to the universe with herculean effort. While in reality they only did what people around the world had done for millennia, brew beer at home. Now I don’t want to diminish their efforts, they certainly broke the law of the land at the time and did something few had done in 30 years and those who had done it recently hadn’t done it well.
The book could, at a few points, do with better editing. The author has a tendency to run on about random breweries that didn’t survive beyond a year or two. Should they be mentioned? Certainly, otherwise there could appear a nonstop success with no failures. However, they don’t each need 3 or 4 pages. We also don’t need 2 paragraph biographies of every single brewer nor do we need them repeated often. I think by the end of the book I’d read a description of Fritz Maytag (owner and resuscitator of Anchor) at least 10 times.
At first I was doubtful but the structure of the book has proven itself to work well. That structure is mainly chronological but also, more importantly, geographical. We move through the years hoping across the United States and occasionally overseas. From San Francisco to New York, Juneau, Boulder, Baghdad and back. This works to tell how the craft beer story is an American one and isn’t just in California (though they can rightfully claim the birthplace).
I enjoyed reading this and think that many fans of craft beer will enjoy it as well. It’ll gives you a long list of new beers to try and a concise history of American craft brewers and breweries that I haven’t found elsewhere. Plus some fodder for arguments over contract brewing, the importance of brewery X vs brewery Y, and “How dare he not include [insert favorite local/regional brewery here]!”.
Lastly, I have a new favorite beer quote & motto for what I try to do with the blog:
“I still see people buying and swilling terrible beer. I sometimes think my job is like farting against a gale, but I just keep moving forward”
– Michael Jackson.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I reached out to the author and his publisher 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 or that I will tell everyone to go buy it.