Beer 

HONEST PINT: BEER BOOKS IN REVIEW

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Three new beer books to make room for on the shelf.

All moved into your new apartment? Great, now just make room for three more books: Joshua M. Bernstein’s The Complete Beer Course, “a boot camp for beer geeks,” John Holl’s The American Craft Beer Cookbook, featuring recipes from brewpubs and breweries across the country, and Tom Acitelli’s The Audacity of Hops on the history of American craft brewing.

THE COMPLETE BEER COURSE | BY JOSHUA M. BERNSTEIN | $24.95

I want to give the Complete Beer Course to my beer geek friends. I also want to give it to my mom. It’s that kind of book—a craft beer guide for the modern beer drinker, whether he or she is a big beer nerd or a novice.

Bernstein, a beer journalist and critic, covers beer in 12 courses: from the beer essentials to the different styles (starting with lagers and pilsners and ending with sour and wild ales) to cellaring and pairing beer with food. With the mix of beer style breakdowns, brewery profiles, and short sidebars,

you can read it from beginning to end as easily as you can flip open to any given page.

I’ve long admired Bernstein’s succinct, snappy, and accessible beer reviews (on The Bruery’s Hottenroth Berliner Weisse: “It’s as if lemonade and Champagne had a love child”) so the “Two to Taste” suggestions throughout will encourage you to put back a pint or two. For further reading, seek out his first beer American craft beer guide book, Brewed Awakening.

THE AMERICAN CRAFT BEER COOKBOOK | BY JOHN HOLL | $19.95

Holl opens his American Craft Beer Cookbook, featuring 155 recipes from brewpubs and breweries across America, with the idea that beer is not a second-class citizen to wine—that beer, with its complexities and style variations, pairs better than wine with food. That’s the thesis of this book: although not every recipe uses beer as an ingredient, every one pairs brilliantly with beer.

Stunning photos accompany clearly laid out recipes, with a brief introduction and beer pairings.

I’m especially fond of the breakfast and brunch section, with recipes like Beer-mosas and Breakfast Pigs in a Blanket, and the desserts, where I drooled over Fresh Berries with Homemade Maple-Bourbon Whipped Cream, paired with a Lawson’s Finest Liquids, beer like the Fayston Maple Imperial Stout.

Recipes aside, there are also short brewery profiles throughout and a Road Trips section with suggestions for breweries, brewpubs, bars, and restaurants across the country. You could take a trip—or you could just settle in with the American Craft Beer Cookbook and cook and drink your way through America’s culinary craft beer scene.

THE AUDACITY OF HOPS | BY TOM ACITELLI | $19.95

The origin of modern American craft brewing is as hacked together as the first nanobrewery: A stubborn guy who took a risk and wouldn’t let an old San Francisco brewery surrender, a man and two women who hacked together a brewery in Sonoma, a homebrewer who made and distributed a brewing magazine and later came to be a leader of the movement. It seems a miracle that it came together, and eventually flourished, like it did.

But it did, somehow, and that is what Acitelli’s Audacity of Hops, on the history of America’s craft beer revolution, beautifully illustrates. From the tenacity of Fritz Maytag’s Anchor Brewing and the rise of Sierra Nevada, to Jim Koch’s epiphany, to the emergence of contract brewing, to battles with big beer, Acitelli deconstructs American craft beer history in digestible chunks, chock full of (often funny and bizarre) details.

Read it if you want to understand the past, but also if you want to ponder the future of American craft brewing.

The Audacity of Hops reveals how history repeats, how small decisions and big risks spurred a movement, and how through it all the radical notion of good American-made beer persisted.


About HEATHER VANDENENGEL

Heather's just here for the beer.
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