What’s the Vintage

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To get a foreword from “Dr.” Bill from Stone for your book requires a little something extra.  And that is what Vintage Beer has.  Not that the topic alone wouldn’t pique the interest of many a beer geek and snob.

Cellaring beer is a small hobby of mine so count me in to read this book.  From what I could find, it is the first of it’s kind on this niche subject of the craft beer world.  Go to Amazon and read the “Sneak Peek” and see if you agree.

Book review – Brewing in Milwaukee

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Brewing in Milwaukee is part of the Images of America series from Arcadia Books. In a nutshell (or mash tun) it is a set of old-time photographs with a little accompanying text before each chapter detailing the history of Brewing in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

Another way to look at it is like an exhibit at a local history museum.  As with the Yuengling book that I reviewed earlier.  I loved the photographs and I just wish there had been more text or a timeline or something to accompany it.  That is probably more a reflection of my greedy nature.

But here is what I took away from this addition to the historical beer canon….

– fire was always a menace to these breweries. No OSHA apparently.
– there was a Weissbier brewery by the name of Gipfel
– beer deliver in winter was perilous
– seems like the beer barons married into the business
– lots of clay bottles used back then
– wish some of these old buildings could have been repurposed, not razed
– Schlitz was 8 city blocks big!

And much more. If you are a fan of beer history this is great stuff about a brewing city that is not talked about much anymore sadly.

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Review – Beer Lover’s Guide to Southern California

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Before I review the Beer Lover’s Guide to Southern California available where fine books (about beer) are sold, I have two disclaimers.  One general and one specific.

In general, guidebooks have two inherent flaws to them.  First, they are quickly out of date and that is especially true of beer guidebooks.  Even in slow but gaining speed, Los Angeles, breweries are opening faster than a blogger can visit and write about them let alone a book with a much longer lead time.  And second, they invariably leave places out.  Either due to space or personal preference.  You can’t (as a reviewer) let either problem affect the overall review.

Specifically,  I know and am friends with the author, Kristofor Barnes.  So obviously, I will be a little more inclined to like the book.  Especially since my blog is mentioned twice!  That being said, as with anything that I review, I will pull no punches.  If I don’t like something, I will point it out.  No sugarcoating here.

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That out of the way, here is my review…..

This guidebook is hefty.  In both weight and in area covered.  I am still in disbelief that the author visited sooo many breweries, not to mention the brewpubs and bars.  It covers from north to south from Buellton all the way to San Diego.  You certainly get your money’s worth in information as well.  From the current brewers names to beers brewed to the vibe of each place. The layout is well done for the most part and easy to read which is a plus.

And not matter how well beer traveled you are.  This book will have many, many, many places that you haven’t visited or tasted a single beer from.  For me the San Diego sections were the most helpful because it is the area that I have visited the least.  Now I feel like I have the intel needed to make my next trip south more successful.

But the two high points for me are the photography and the beer pick.  Beer photography can get monotonous (just look at the wacky angles I use on this blog).  But the photos here are crisp and visually interesting and with a nice variety of backdrops to them.  More importantly the beer pick for each brewery are well chosen.  In fact it is what I read first before going back to read from the beginning.  Barnes hits on the flagships and IPA’s but he also spreads the love all the way around style-wise effortlessly.  Some books can seem to be stretching to include a beer for the sake of variety but that isn’t the case here.

On the downside, there are a couple of odd chapter choices.  Separating Lancaster out seems a bit odd for two breweries.  And I am still puzzling over how the Glendale Tap is in one chapter and Golden Road and Eagle Rock in another even though all three are literally on the same boulevard.  Also map related, I am still on the fence about the map accompanying each chapter.  The orientation forces you to turn the book around like a manual iPad.  I also think that most people will use their GPS on their smartphones for finding the beer and not a map in a book even if they have the book in the car.  I would have gone with a map of the full area from north to south in the background and the specific area in the foreground with the logos of the chosen few instead of numbers and a key.

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There also seemed duplication of effort as well.  We are treated to handy and helpful reviews of, for instance, Downtown LA.  All good.  Loved the choices and descriptions.  Then there was a Walking Tour section that basically retread the same ground.  It would have been better to just give the walking directions with other additions of places that get summary attention as opposed to fuller coverage.  I would rather see other underappreciated places like Melody Lounge or Bottle Rock mentioned then a second whack at Far Bar.  No matter how much I like it.

The writing really shows that Barnes wears his heart and enthusiasm on his sleeve.  That is both a major plus and a minor negative.  You can tell that he loves the people, the places and the beers which is still what this craft beer movement needs in places like LA but a critical touch in San Diego is probably warranted to steer the beer traveler to the best of the best.  You do have to read between the lines to see if one place is better than another. But I do prefer that to snarky or snobby.

Overall, I do think this is a must buy book.  There is just too much good information in this Beer Lover’s Guide to pass up.  And it is in one handy spot for easy reference.

Picture the Brewers of California

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I first ran across Nick Gingold and his brewmaster photographs at the Firestone Walker Invitational last year.  Yes, it was in the shade of that scorching day but the artwork was quite stunning and I liked seeing the brewers behind many of my favorite beers and now….
California BrewMasters is a coffee table book in the making featuring interviews and portraits of some of California’s star brewers. Over 45 in total up and down the state! In these interviews you’ll get to meet the folks responsible for some of your favorite California brews, learn about their brewing history, philosophies behind brewing, home brew tips & tricks, thoughts on the industry and so much more. We photographed each portrait on location at either the brewery or surrounding communities to bring you a look at where these brewers live and work.”

But here is the “kicker”,  Gingold needs a successful  fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.com to make the book a reality.  Make a donation and we can all see our beloved Cali brewers memorialized in book form.

the Beer Reading room

books

Books on craft beer don’t have to be guidebooks or best beer books (though I like both).  I want to see more history and food pairing books personally.

But another form is needed and now there are two books on my E-device that start to fill the need that should be encouraged by other people buying them.

1.Evan Rail  Why Beer Matters Kindle Single.

2. Alan McLeod and Max Bahnson (aka Pivni Filosof). The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer

And you can get both for a whopping $6.

(Thanks to the Beervana blog for pointing me to these books)

Craft Beer in Japan

My friend Tomm Carroll has sampled the beer scene in Japan and I am jealous.  But reading this book might bring me closer. More likely, closer than I will ever be to Japanese craft beer.

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Craft Beer in Japan by Mark Meli details the breweries, the bars and the ji-biru.  Along the way Meli has tasted over 1,700 and he has found out tid-bits of the beer culture in Japan as well.  Making it more than just a quickie guidebook. Right now it appears to be only Kindle version but all the better for those on the road.

 

 

A Yuengling History

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You may have noticed this line / brand of historical books in bookstores. They usually document local history. This Yuengling book is the first that I have seen devoted to a brewery.

Firstly, this is a picture book. Lots of great photographs and ad reproductions. Not a history per se. I was most struck by the roadside billboards. Both the early ones and then more current ones where their signage is next to that of the “national” brands.

You also get a little history of the clan behind the beer. Though I could have used more backstory in that department.

Other additions that would have proved useful to me would have been a timeline of the brewery and a floor plan. Maybe comparing different iterations of the brewery layout through the years.

Minor quibbles aside, if you like beer history and rooting for an underdog then this book is for you.

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D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., is on sale for $21.99 from Arcadia Publishing and is available at local retailers, online or through Arcadia Publishing HERE.

Britain’s Lost Breweries and Beers by Chris Arnot

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With England on a new trajectory of breweries, it is probably a good time to do some recollecting of the old times as well. Don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past, and all that. I am a sucker for beer books, toss in history and I am swooning. This one is going on my Christmas list this year.

“an elegy for the loss of so many of our classic homes of beer.” is all I need to see on the book jacket.

You can find it on Amazon UK, HERE.

h2o

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If you have the hops book (which I do) and the malt book (which I don’t) then you might want to complete the set with Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers, by John Palmer and Colin Kaminski, “which will help brewers who have long been flummoxed by the liquid’s complex chemistry.”

Yup, this book from the Brewers Publications’ Brewing Elements series is “solely devoted to the use and treatment of water throughout the brewing process. From an overview on sources, quality and geography, the book shows brewers how to read water reports, understand flavor contributions, and adjust the chemistry of brewing water. A discussion of adapting water to styles of beer, residual alkalinity, malt acidity, mash pH, brewery process water and wastewater treatment is included.”

It’s gonna get technical but if you have an interest in diving deeper into beer then this book will give you some key information because….

“If you don’t get the water right, neither will you succeed with the beer,” said Charlie Bamforth, professor of malting and brewing sciences at the University of California in a review on the book.

Dinner in the Beer Garden

So I typed this: Only a few days left to help out bringing another beer related Kickstarter to fruition!  And the next day, before I had a chance to finish the post, the Kickstarter fully funded!  I would like to say it was the BSP Bounce but I think many people wanted to see what new recipes Lucy Saunders has up her sleeve.

So now, if you haven’t already gotten a book via the crowdfunding, you can find it later via bookstores (live or virtual).