Bitter Brew (and I don’t mean hops)


I talk a lot about beer books.  If you put me on an island with a library and a brewery,  I would be happy, happy!  And this book would fascinate me.  I have already read one tome about the sorry saga of the Busch family and this one from a former L.A. Times writer William Knoedelseder sounds like a quick and juicy read.

“The engrossing, often scandalous saga of one of the wealthiest, longest-lasting, and most colorful dynasties in the history of American commerce—a cautionary tale about prosperity, profligacy, hubris, and the blessings and dark consequences of success.

Stretching across three centuries, from the start of the Civil War through two World Wars and Prohibition to today, Bitter Brew tells the astonishing story of how five generations of men—fathers, sons, and brothers—took a small, bankrupt brewery on the banks of the Mississippi and built it into an international colossus. It is the story of America’s past and present—a tale of promise and fulfillment for immigrants like Adolphus Busch, determined to strike it rich; and of a modern generation who squandered that dream. It is a story of breathtaking wealth, political power, and public acclaim—and of heartbreak, scandal, tragedy, and death. In chronicling the rise and fall of the Busch family and its business, the veteran journalist William Knoedelseder tells a broader story of American progress and decline over the last 150 years.”

Beer Book Review – For the Love of Hops


If you are a hophead and cannot get enough bitter IPA’s and DIPA’s and the ever expanding hoppy styles then this book will truly make your head spin.  The backstory on what goes on to bring the hops to life and let alone get them into your beer is simply amazing and Stan Hieronymus does a skillful job of marrying the anecdotes with the science while also letting the stories room to breathe as well.

I will be the first to admit that many parts of this book went over my head.  I am not a science guy nor am I a brewing guy so there were parts that I had to read and re-read a few times.  This was no fault of Hieronymus.  It just took me awhile to get it.  I can’t spell ethyl-4-methylpentanoate let alone remember that it’s odor compound is fruity.

But I thoroughly enjoyed the opening of each chapter where Hieronymus either takes us to a hop yard to talk to a farmer or back in history to Wye College in England.  And even better is the section on many of the known hop varieties.

IMG_3667It is a helpful cheat sheet to use the next time you have an IPA.  All you have to do is figure out which hops are in the beer that you have and then check out the data on each one.  Geeky to the extreme, I know.  There are some really cool color photographs as well.  I could have used more. And I would have liked more diagrams in the section of hop backs and torpedos but those are minor quibbles to a book that somehow manages to be all things to all people.  Even homebrewers will get a charge from the recipe section.

IMG_3669Now that I have read this one, I have put the Yeast and Water books on my list for Christmas to complete my set!  You can buy the book via Amazon HERE.

Hop in the Saddle – book review

Over the holidays, I got my copy of Hop in the Saddle. I was one of the Kickstarters for this beery guide and was anxious to see how it turned out.
And the answer is…. great!

This is handy for both bikers who drink (or don’t) and for drinkers who bike (or won’t). It splits Portland into manageable chunks while also finding spots that I had never even heard of.

The biking instructions are complete and the notes really show that the authors have been to these places. And they have picked solid locations to hit the bike brakes. The graphic design is a skosh cluttered in spots but is cute and consistent.
This guide may be more useful for a year-round Beervana resident but still holds surprises for those planning a visit.

Gueze & Kriek – book review

I was quite excited to get this book for Christmas because this is a style that I don’t know the history of so I dove right into reading it (after finishing up the 2nd book in the Song of Ice and Fire).

First off, this is a translation and it shows in parts. Lot’s of exclamation points and some odd transitions from sentence to sentence. But it excels in two spots that are most important to me.

One, it delves into the history of this beer briefly before expanding to the history of each of the brewers and blenders. It is a treat to learn about where Cantillon started and where it is now. Literally it is a history if who started it and where it is now You even get a bit of travel guidance as well with some notations of where to go to order a glass.

Second, the photographs are great. For someone who has not been inside one of these breweries, or the country of Belgium for that matter, these shots really take you in front of and behind the scenes. Some captions for the photographs would have been helpful though. But that doesn’t detract from seeing a well used coolship filled with beer.

One jarring note is how often male inheritance of breweries is mentioned. As if a woman couldn’t brew these specific styles! It is a bit great-grandfatherly for my taste.

Overall an interesting look into a very historic and specific style. I felt bad not drinking that style exclusively while reading it.

Hieronymous Hop book

We return to the beer bookshelf for a lesson on hops. I put this book on my Christmas list due to this one little tidbit:
“Stan Hieronymus expertly explains the nature of hops, their origins, hop quality and utilization–and even devotes an entire chapter to dry hopping. For the Love of Hops also includes a reference catalog of more than 100 varieties and their characteristics.”
This will certainly help me when I am puzzling through the hops in an IPA.

Allagash Cookbook

Allagash has been involved in many a beer dinner that I have heard about so it comes as no surprise that they have a cookbook now.
Here’s the video to tell you more…..

Makes me wish that I was a better cook.