With many brewery histories, you know the story in broad strokes already because most breweries have only been around since the 1980’s. (please do not call that ancient history)
But after you read the glorious coffee table book, The Anchor Brewing Story by David Burkhart, you will have been taken on a tour of beer in San Francisco that will be brand new to you.
That is because Anchor Brewing has been around since 1896 but its DNA goes even further back. Burkhart takes you to 1848 and the gold rush and to 1856 and Gottlieb Brekle and his Golden City Brewery which then became part of the Co-Operative Brewery before raising Anchor in 1896. This brewery went through earthquakes and owners and moved around San Francisco so much that you need a map app to orient yourself.
The book picks up steam when Fritz Maytag enters the picture. His drive for quality and “Wholicity” rescued Anchor from obscurity. His arrival finally brought stability to the brewery and innovation and curiosity as well.
Maytag was there at practically every important milestone in California craft brewing history. He was also there for distilling which was really not a thing when he dipped his toe in. Wine, he did that too.
A good history book takes you back in time and then whisks you through major events. The balance and tone of the writing is balanced and fun. Burkhart does that in the coffee book format which doesn’t provide as much word space. For that he is to be commended and the book purchased.
Do you think you know everything about Lambic beers? You might want to read Lambic by Raf Meert. You will probably have some myths busted.
Don’t let the plain blue cover fool you, this book covers, “The historic origin of lambic had already been lost by the middle of the 19th century. This gave rise to patriotically inspired legends, and recently also marketing-driven stories.
This book aims to deconstruct those fictions, and offers an overview of the historical origin and evolution of lambic beers through painstaking and meticulous research done in various historical archives and documents.
For the first time, the origins of lambic are linked to historical events and their contexts. It provides surprising new insights into where, when and why lambic came into being, North-America’s role in it, and the most original faro, lambic and gueuze and their etymology. This book is a must-read for the lambic enthusiast who is genuinely interested in this unique and world-renowned beer.”
If you do not have plans to sit with a mild in an English pub this holiday season, then I have the next best thing, a photo album / love letter to the old London pub.
Per the publisher, “This collection of glorious vintage photographs is a celebration of London’s best boozers and the people who brought them to life. Without its pubs, London just wouldn’t be London. They are the heart (and liver) of this great city.”
Of course the book of the month is about bourbon. Reid Mitenbuler looks at bourbon through slightly jaded eyes in Bourbon Empire.
The sub-title gives the scope of the narrative, The past and future of America’s whiskey. Overall Mitenbuler does a succinct job of pulling back the curtain on the business of bourbon detailing how the beverage looks way more artisanal than the business structure behind it actually is.
I did find the constant referencing back to Jefferson v Hamilton a bit overdone and a little too easy to boil things down to local and agrarian v business and industry. I also felt there was a missed opportunity to show the way that bourbon spun out of prohibition in comparison to beer and wine. I would almost prefer less time spent in that era and more in modern times detailing the new small distilling operations that have sprung up mostly because the chapter on Coppersea Distilling was quite interesting.
This book excels when it is busting myths and showing how the sausage is made without a PR firm spin to it. The fact that done brands were actually traded between competing firms was new news to me.
To drink with this book, I suggest getting yourself a California Common or the Kentucky version and compare it to Anchor Steam. That copyrighted name and its fallout is a close cousin to some of the business going on in bourbon.
Drunk – How we sipped, danced, and stumbled our way to civilization by Edward Slingerland is of interest because of one simple thesis, we use alcohol as an intoxicant as a way to recover fun in our lives or as the author states in a much more sociological way, alcohol gives us the 3 C’s – communal, culture and creative.
Otherwise genetics or evolution would have made alcohol as needed as an appendix is now.
The other fun bit of knowledge is based on “dosing”. Other drugs or highs achieved from say, running, achieve sone of the same ends as alcohol but but either are way more addictive, drugs or are too unwieldy in time like running. Alcohol is quicker, more effective and though it is addictive, no getting around that, it is not as rapidly destructive as harder drugs.
Past that, this book tends to cover the same ground over much. Especially when dispelling other ideas regarding why alcohol is still ingrained in humans. I am much better writing in summary than in minute detail so when a writer tells me the same thing over and over, I quickly suss it out.
But the writing style of Slingerland’s is jovial and not bogged down in terminology so the read is still fun.
“Hops are the most important ingredient in the beer we love, offering a spectrum of distinct aromas, flavors, and bitterness. Whether it’s a floral Cascade, spicy Saaz, juicy Citra, or a combination of different varieties, hop character has become the driving force behind craft brewing. The Book of Hops profiles fifty of the most sought-after hops from around the world, with intricate photography and notes on taste, composition, use, and origin, plus examples of the wonderful beers that showcase them.
With contributions from today’s most important brewers and growers; a handy primer that breaks down the science, story, andproduction of beer; and hand-picked craft beer recommendations throughout, this fully illustrated guidebook is all you need to discover and fully savor your next favorite brew.”