Randy Mosher’s Radical Brewing (buy it on Amazon) is not your normal introductory homebrewing book. I’m a little sad that it took me this long to get around to reading it. It should be the second or third homebrewing book you pick up after How to Brew or Complete Joy of Homebrewing.
In my continued quest to read everything about booze I just finished reading Adam Rogers’ Proof: The Science of Booze and damn do I love this book!
I’m happy to bring news and a review of a new beer book coming out The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes (buy on Amazon) by Joshua M. Bernstein. Continue reading “Book Review: The Complete Beer Course”
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.
Father’s day is only two weeks away and college graduates are hopefully venturing off to work. It’s time for us, the dedicated craft beer consumer, to steer the recent grads away from their college days of buying the cheapest can they can. It’s time to usher them into the beautiful bountiful world of craft beer!
For those whose dads may have never escaped those college days of cheap beer, or may already be on the path towards great beer then we can help them enjoy those beers even more! Both of these thoughts work just as well for anyone, like myself, celebrating a summer birthday!
If you’ve got a dad or grad who is drinking beer straight from the bottle or from a generic pint glass then this should be the top present to get them, and at $40 it’s not too pricey, especially considering what is included! The set includes the ever versatile (and my most used) tulip glass, a lager glass, a pilsner glass, and a weizen glass. I notice the biggest differences when using the tulip and weizen vs. a shaker.
The set runs $40 on Amazon if that’s too much or you don’t see the pilsner or lager glass being used then I strongly recommend at least getting a set of 2 tulip glasses which runs $25 on Amazon. These stemmed tulips are my default go to glass and the difference they make in flavor and especially aroma is mind blowingly profound.
Like the tulip glass above these IPA glasses make a noticeable impact on my enjoyment of the brews I put in. Not as versatile as the tulip since these only highlight aspects of IPAs, pale ales, and double/imperial IPAs. You can get plain ones on Amazon 2 for $20 or get the Dogfish Head logo or Sierra Nevada logo for $9 a piece at their respective sites. As a remind Dogfish Head & Sierra Nevada were part of the whole process to create these glasses, you can see my post on that here.
If you or whoever you’re shopping for is headed to a beach vacation, or just a long plane ride for work, then a book is always a safe bet and the following are some great beer books.
First up is Mike Morgan’s Over-the-Rhine: When Beer was King ($15 for a dead tree/$10 for kindle). This is full of great stories about Cincinnati history, people, and oh yeah BEER! Check out my full review of the book here.
Next in the Cincinnati history department is a new book about the life of Christian Moerlein: The Man and his Brewery ($20). I haven’t checked this out yet but am looking forward to reading it and will post my thoughts when I do.
Switching tracks from Cincinnati beer to beer in general are the two following books.
Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink ($12 dead tree/$9 kindle) – It covers the history of beer, ingredients, styles, glasses, pairings and much more. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it helped me expand my knowledge of styles and what to expect from them. This is great for beginner craft beer lovers or the advanced folks who want to up their knowledge. My full review is here.
The Oxford Companion to Beer ($40 for dead tree/$12 for kindle) – I use this as a reference on almost every post I write. Not really for the beginner getting into beer but definitely good for your family/friendly advanced imbiber or home brewer. Now I’m mostly an ebook guy, hence referring to all these paper versions as “dead tree” editions. In this case I would NOT want an electronic version (though searching it could be easier…). It’s nice to have the heft and feel of a real encyclopedia like this.
Audacity of hops ($15 book/$10 kindle) – I’m currently in the process of reading this, about half way through and digging it. You probably want to be somewhat of a history junkie since there isn’t loads of indepth beer information in here, at least so far. It’s packed with great stories of what caused John Doe to found brewery ABC and how hard/easy it was, etc…
Beer Advocate ($15/year) – Lots of people know about the beeradvocate.com site and check it out for quick reviews or info about styles but many I speak to weren’t aware there was a monthly magazine. I’ve been receving this for about 2 years and look forward to it every month. It’s mostly short articles about various facets of beer or the industry. There is always an interview with a brewer and 2 – 3 pages of reviews of new beers. They also just released a digital version on the Google Play Store.
All About Beer ($20/year) – I’ve been getting this for a while as well. I used to prefer Beer Advocate for their articles but All About Beer has stepped up their game recently and rolled out some really great feature articles.
Beers not bombs bottle opener ($15) – I think this is a really cool idea. They take cables from old nuke launch silos, melt it down, and turn them into bottle openers! Plus 20% of their profits go to peace organizations. Kinda hippyish but you always need a bottle opener so you might as well have a bad ass one that goes to a good cause.
If recycled nuclear material is a bit off putting and not-your-style then check out Brewsees Sunglasses. They’re sleek looking sunglasses w/ bottle openers on the end! ($30)- Thanks to Sud Savant for this idea.
Growler on board ($30) – Being a 1-growler man I personally have no use for this… yet. But if you’ve ever tried to keep a growler up-right in the passenger seat on the way home from the brewery you already know the value this brings.
Home brewing start kit ($50 on Amazon) – I’m no home brewer nor do I have an interest in becoming one. But this is an ambition that is shared by many beer enthusiasts so I think it’d make a great present. I’m semi-hesitant linking to Amazon for something like this and I, personally, would be more apt to head to a local home brew store for their recommendations. So check out Listermann’s, Osborne Brewing, or Brew Monkey’s.
Prices on this could vary tremendously. When I first did this list I said “getting a DD to spend a day driving from Rivertown to Mt. Carmel and end with dinner at the Moerlein Lager house”. Well we can now scratch that and you, your dad/grad, and your friends can get torn up thanks to Cincinnati’s own Tonic Tours (full disclosure: Tonic Tours is run by Ginny Tonic, a writer for this blog, and I have provided some advice for her). A step up would be a stop in Columbus for lunch at the Columbus Brewing Company (order the Bodhi) then heading on to Cleveland for Fat Heads & Great Lakes. Farther out would be a trip to Three Floyd’s and a night in Chicago.
From there the USA awaits you can hit the Denver-Longmont-Ft. Collins area or head down to So.Cal and see Russian River, Stone, Lagunitas, 21st Amendment and all the other awesomeness around there. A personal favorite of mine that I can speak to from experience is Asheville, NC. I prefer mountains over cities and Asheville is nicely nestled in the Appalachians. Asheville also nets you some Colorado experience as Oskar Blues as a brewery setup near there and New Belgium should be up next year (assuming there aren’t more delays).
If you’re in a higher income bracket then myself the world opens up with London, Belgium, Dublin, and all the old brewing cities in Germany.
oh, and 1 more thing BEER!
Right, that stuff that we talk about all the time. I’m not gonna say what to get because everyone’s tastes differ but I don’t think anyone would be disappointed to get a new brew as a gift. If you have no idea what to get your family member then I’d suggest a gift card to one of the bigger stores that sell good beer like Jungle Jim’s or Party source. Better yet how about a gift card to one of the new smaller beer stores like Everything d’Vine. Other places may have gift cards but I’m not sure.
If you’ve got no idea what beer to buy and don’t like giving gift cards then I’d suggest a Beer of the month club ($40/month). There are a lot of different websites out there offering varying packages and prices but the gist is all the same. They send you new beers every month. From the poking around that I’ve done online halftimebeverage.com is what I would go with but I encourage you to shop around and decide what works for, and interests, you best.
What’s on your list?
If a lot of this seems familiar that’s because it’s based on my holiday post from last year. I’ll probably be doing this type of thing twice a year in summer and winter. So to help out me and all our readers out in the future please add any great gift ideas you’ve seen lately in the comments below! I’ll be sure to give you credit for your discover just like I did with Sud Savant.
It’s getting cold out (well, not today it’s 57), Christmas music is playing in every store, and winter ales abound. That all means the holiday season is upon us. Since this is QCD’s first holiday season and because I love shopping for beer and beer stuff I present the following post about beer gifts for yourself or the beer lover in your family.
Part of the Stone media pack I received was the book The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and unbiased arrogance. The book is broken down into sections and I’ll follow that breakdown for my review.
The Nature of Beer
- Excellent break down of what beer is. They go into detail about the core ingredients of beer and what difference they make. Of interest to home brewers and beer nerds is a breakdown of many styles of hops with name, alpha acid level, and flavor profile. They do the same thing with malt and even various chemicals in water! This is a resource I’ll hold onto for a while and I’ll use it as a basis for an eventual blog post(s) on this subject.
Beer Through The Ages
- Re-read this section because it was that good. OK, so I wrote that note to myself while doing an initial draft of this post. Then I decided to keep it there because it’s true and everyone should do it. This is by far my favorite section of this book and is full of great info. There is a 4,000 year old recipe for beer which includes brewing instructions called “the Hymn to Ninkasi” from what is now Iraq, no word if anyone has recreated it recently (get on that Dogfish Head!). That kinda fact just blows my mind. From there they skip ahead a few thousand years and mainly focus on the results of ending prohibition. That is to say the crushing of small brewers and the following slow rise of craft beer ending in the world we have today.
A Story Called Stone
- This section is really for hard core Stone fans. It goes through the history, founding, problems, and fortune and fame of the company. There isn’t a lot of great info for people looking to start small breweries or small breweries looking to grow. It’s still a fun story and an interesting ride. Plus like the book as a whole it’s told in a very engaging way.
The Beers of Stone Brewing Co.
- This is a huge section with detailed info and stories on all of the Stone beers. At least all of them as of 2011, which is a lot! This includes all the anniversary and collaboration beers as well as the regular round up. Again it’s really for Stone super fans, but it’s also an excellent resource for anyone interested in Stone beers… like a blogger who is in the midst of writing posts about the beers.
Dr. Bill’s Beer How-Tos
- This is a rather quick section that talks about serving, cellaring, and pairing beer. For the serving section it focuses on choosing the correct glass and getting a good pour. Then a very cursory discussion on enjoying and tasting. The cellaring section just goes through what kind of styles are best to age and good places to store the beer. Pairing is just what you think, talks about why beer works great with food and what foods work with what beers. The how-to section is overall alright but I’d prefer the tasting section to be a bit more in depth. Also in aging it’d be nice if they said age X style for Y years to achieve optimal results. I realize this is very difficult for anyone to say, but still they could give it a shot.
Recipes from the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
- As I’ve stated many times I’m no foodie and I’m a horrible cook. As such this section was lost on me. There are about 15 or 20 recipes for food served at Stone’s brewpub. They look tasty but are pretty complex, at least from my perspective.
Home brew Recipes
- The first portion here is a nice overview of the entire home brew process. I wouldn’t use this as my only guide for my first brew but it gives you a decent idea of what you’re looking at and could be a good starting place. Following that is beer recipes for a somewhat odd collection of Stone beers. Pale ale, smoked porter, and levitation make sense then there are a scattering of anniversary’s and collaborations. But no arrogant bastard which I think may disappoint many people. Though as most home brewers already know that’s just a Google search away.
In the end this is a good general beer book and a fantastic book about Stone. If you know any Stone fanatics this would make a great present for them. If you’ve been reading my reviews you’ve seen that I’m no Stone super fan so the Stone-centric portions of this book only held mild interest for me. Despite that I thoroughly enjoyed the general info like the nature and history of beer. Regardless of all that it’s not a huge book so you can pop through it pretty quick unless you want to memorize all the recipes by heart or something.
FULL DISCLOSURE: This
beer book was sent to me for free by Stone. To our readers, and any breweries interested in sending me stuff, giving me free stuff impacts the review in only 1 way. That way is that I WILL review the beer whatever and I WILL write a blog post about it. Giving me free beer swag does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it or anything like that.