Monday, October 20, 2008

Book Review: Red, White, and Brew

I'm always on the look for a new book on beer. Sometimes this can be difficult at the local book store. It seems you can always find a new book on wine (the aisles are FILLED with 'em) but good beer books can be few and far between. So when Brian Yaeger recently commented to a post of mine, and I found out he had a book coming out, I got excited. Luckily I wasn't disappointed. I finished this book during my trip to GABF (unfortunately I didn't get a chance to catch up with Brian). To start this is as much a book about cross country traveling as it is about beer. Much like the lauded Travels with Barley, this is not a book to read if you are just looking for a book on beer tastings, food matching, or any of the sort. Instead its a deeper look into the breweries, and brewers behind the beer. Brian doesn't stick to just the hard to find craft breweries, although they are there (Bell's, Goose Island, Grand Teton, etc) but he also hits some of the bigger craft breweries as well (New Belgium, Spoetzl, Widmer, D.G. Yuengling, etc). The book revolves around him traveling the country, moving from brewery to brewery and listening to the stories of the founders and workers. Brian's travels start at the Yuengling Brewery, heading west to breweries in the midwest, through Colorado, along the west coast, around through Texas and a visit to local Shiner, before heading back east and finishing up at Brooklyn Brewery. All in all a fascinating trip. The one part that interested me is the stop in Texas where he gets a tour around Shiner, Texas (sure it didn't take long, but its a great little town) and the brewery. Some really fascinating history here, providing me with a little information that I didn't know.
Brian's writing style brings out the good and the bad. The good is that its so conversational, and comfortable that you feel as if you're in the car driving cross country with him. The bad is that at times when writing about the local pub scene he can come across a little frat boyish (she didn't know much about beer, but good thing she was cute, that kind of thing). It's a minor knock on my part I know, and it doesn't keep this book from being thoroughly enjoyable, and making me incredible envious of Brian and his trip. Maybe I can join him on his next one........
Overall this book is such an excellent study in what drives brewers, from the bigger craft beer makes to your local brew pub. Its a strong social study of why they do what they do. There are some that don't even drink beer, but yet are driven to continue a brewery if for no other reason than to support the local neighborhood. Needless to say I enjoyed the book, and hope that Brian continues the work, and produces more writings.
In Summary: Highly Recommended.

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