Book Review: ‘The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution’ by Tom Acitelli

History is awesome. Beer is awesomer. America is awesomest.

Put all three of those together and you get this: a triple awesome badass epic that goes through the history of craft brewing in the United States of America.

Tom Acitelli has put together a great book for craft beer lovers. It doesn’t matter if you are in America or not, this book tells the interesting tales of some of the most interesting breweries there are. It examines how the craft brewing industry came to be such a juggernaut in the U.S. and how it has fought against the bigger corporate megabreweries (still a much, much bigger juggernaut).

The book helped to solidify and enrich my love of beer, its creation process and just about everything else surrounding it.

Acitelli’s words are well-written, the tales he tells are well presented and there is a lot of new knowledge to walk away with even for the most hardcore beer aficionado.

I cannot recommend this book to beer lovers and/or history buffs enough.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: The books Tasting BeerBeyond the Pale and Asheville Beer.

TV Review: Brew Masters (2010)

Original Run: November 21st, 2010 – December 16th, 2010
Directed by: Bengt Anderson
Music by: Sarah Schachner
Cast: Sam Calagione

Zero Point Zero Production Inc., String and Can, Discovery Channel, 6 Episodes, 42 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*Written in 2014.

Brew Masters is a Discovery Channel reality show that follows Sam Calagione, the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, as he and his staff search the world high and low for new inspirations to craft new beers.

The show is entertaining and it is interesting for anyone who wants to know more about the beer making process. With each episode focusing on a new project, there is a lot of variety and styles covered over just the few episodes that were made.

And I guess that’s the somewhat crappy part about the show, is that there are only five episodes that aired before it was cancelled. It would’ve been really interesting to see what they could have come up with in future episodes as some of the projects in its only season would be hard to top.

One thing I like about the show, is that it isn’t drama filled reality television bullshit. Everyone seemingly works well together, everyone is positive and people genuinely enjoy their jobs. Dogfish Head seems like an awesome company to work for and truthfully, I hope at some point I find something that exciting, rewarding and fun in my professional career.

Speaking of which, I come from the marketing and product development side of the cigar industry and have always wanted to venture into beer. I guess that is why I found this to be such an enjoyable show because it gave more transparency to the behind the scenes operations of a badass brewery. While the cigar industry is very similar, especially with creating new blends, the beer industry, at this level, is even more complex and there is just so much more they can do with ingredients. You can’t not respect the craft and Dogfish Head is one of the best, which is what made this show a pretty enriching experience.

You can currently watch it streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Brew DogsChug, Dark Horse Nation and Booze Traveler.

Book Review: ‘Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink’ by Randy Mosher

*Written in 2015.

For those who don’t know, I’ve been working towards becoming a certified Cicerone. I’m starting at the beer server level, which is the first step in the process.

While researching the subject of beer and preparing for my exam, this book was recommended as a “must read” by the Cicerone organization and many others I have talked to.

I’ve read a lot of books on beer, its history, its endless amount of styles and the brewing process. However, nothing I’ve encountered before Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher has given me this much knowledge on the subject.

The book feels thick and massive in one’s hand but it is actually only about 230 pages. Granted, each page is full of so much information that you walk away feeling like you truly understand the ins-and-outs of beer in every facet.

This book is not just comprehensive, it is also an easy and pleasurable read and doesn’t waste time on nonsense. Many beer books out there pander to the writer’s own ego and display their overabundance of knowledge at the sake of educating the reader on the most important parts. Mosher doesn’t lose you on lengthy diatribes on subjects that may be too difficult for the beginner.

But don’t take that as seeing this as just a beginners’ book. It covers the basics but it expands on the basics in a very layman sort of way. Mosher has a gift as a writer and a teacher and this is truly the bible for beer lovers and people wanting to have a more intimate understanding of their favorite beverage.

Everyone in the beer industry, especially those in craft beer, should have already read this and if they haven’t should make it a priority. It has certainly made my journey towards Cicerone knighthood more enjoyable, more informative and made it seem much more attainable.

If I ever run into Mr. Mosher in my travels, I owe him a beer.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: The Complete Beer Course, The Audacity of Hops and Beyond the Pale

Book Review: ‘Beyond the Pale – The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’ by Ken Grossman

*Written in 2015.

Having recently visited Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s new Mills River, NC facility, I picked up this book in the gift shop on the way out. After going on the brewery tour of one of my favorite companies in the world, I still wanted more intimate detail on the company and the birth of their now iconic products.

The book is essentially an autobiography by Ken Grossman, which covers his childhood and the path that led him to making one of the largest craft breweries in America and sparking a craft beer revolution.

The book was an enjoyable short read – well, roughly 250 pages or so. Grossman’s tale was engaging and informative. Especially if you are a big fan of not just his beers, but his company and his vision. This story is much bigger than Grossman and his company, it is about the genesis of a major craft beer renaissance in this country.

Sierra Nevada helped shape an entire industry that has grown exponentially since the first time Pale Ale rolled out of that small warehouse in Chico, CA. An industry that has gotten so big, major brewing companies like Budweiser spend millions of dollars in craft beer attack ads.

If you even remotely enjoy craft beer, this book is certainly worth a read. It gives a very intimate account of the love for something better than low calorie light pilsner swill. It reflects the love that goes into better beer and goes to show how this is a product crafted by meticulous passion. Something that truly represents Americana.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Mountain Brewing by Anne Fitten Glenn, Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher, The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution by Tom Acitelli

Book Review: ‘Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Mountain Brewing’ by Anne Fitten Glenn

*Written in 2014.

I picked this book up in the Asheville airport on my way back home from my recent trip there. It made for great reading on the plane, especially after having just experienced Asheville and its robust brewing culture.

This book is fairly short but even so, it leaves no stone unturned and gives the reader the whole background on Asheville, as well as the city’s relationship with alcohol.

After the big history lesson, it delves into how brewing became a big thing in Asheville and the surrounding area. It gives detailed histories on all the breweries that existed at the time of this book’s publishing and even gives insight into the breweries on their way (some of which are already there now).

The book is very well-written and straight to the point. Anne Fitten Glenn has a great talent for being very exacting yet engaging with her writing, as well as being very thorough and organized. This book is a bit of a hidden gem for serious beer lovers out there. I didn’t know it existed until I saw it in the airport.

If you have any interest in craft beer or are a history buff or better yet, both of these things, than this is a great read. I’m actually glad that I read it at the end of my trip, as having gone to many of the breweries covered, I was able to visualize the beautiful locations and know what beers were being referenced.

Moral of the story, read the book. Bigger moral of the story, go to Asheville. Biggest moral of the story, drink good beer.