Barley Mowat 

A Tale of Two Books

with one comment

I’ll be honest, my plan was to review two beer books that would make awesome hammock fodder for this upcoming long weekend, but the weather report just shat a steaming load of crushed dreams all over that idea. So here are two books you could read, um, on your couch I guess. While the rain pours down outside. Seriously, when did summer end, and why did no one tell me?

Book 1: Craft Beer Revolution by Joe Wiebe

Want to know something about Craft Beer in BC as of Summer 2013? Look in this book. Joe’s all encompassing compendium of BC Craft Beer doesn’t miss much of anything. Want a history of the early days of BC Craft Beer? It’s here. Want a rundown of the newest kids on the block? Bam, you’re covered.

However, where Joe’s book falls a bit short is, well, as a book. This is not a cohesive cover-to-cover read. It is a guide to the current state of beer in BC, with a few anecdotes sprinkled through for flavour.

The writing frequently repeats itself, declaring a new tidbit as a novel fact when it was actually discussed just two pages prior. This is to be expected for a book that was, no doubt, based in part off of Joe’s extensive and authoritative writings on BC Craft Beer over the past few years. Read it in short bits for best effect–I’m not saying it’s a bathroom reader, but that might just be the perfect application for it, aside from a reference.

Does any of that mean I don’t like Joe’s book? Nope. I’ll leave futher criticism of Joe’s approach until I have my own damned book on the market to point to (spoiler: I’m not writing one). Instead of pointing out what it isn’t, I should be spending more time pointing out what it is: a complete, up-to-date compendium of everything to do with Awesome Beer in BC, backed 100% by in-depth personal research by Joe himself (aka Joe went to a lot of breweries and drank a lot of beer… well played, Joe).

For a person just getting into local beer, or even someone with a bit more experience, this would be an invaluable resource. Even a huge beer snob like myself found some tidbits I didn’t know. I expect that many copies of this book will wind up under trees come December.

In short, is it worth a damn? Yes.

Also, the cover is cool, which is the most important part of a book.

Buy it now: Amazon $14.40 ($9.99 Kindle), iBooks: n/a, Chapters: $14.40 (n/a for Kobo)

Book 2: The Audacity of Hops by Tom Acitelli

The Audacity of Hops is everything that Joe’s Craft Beer Revolution is not. CBR is about BC, AoH is about the USA (BC gets about 1/2 a page). CBR is a guide to the current state of beer with some history for context, AoH is about the history of the craft beer movement with some current state of affairs for filler. CBR is fairly well written and easy to digest. Oh snap!

The Audacity of Hops attempts to string a narrative through the sprawling history and origins of Craft Beer in the United States. This history fits well when the book is talking about the start of the movement in 1960’s California, but author Tom Acitelli’s desire to present a cohesive, linear view of a history that is–in reality–fragmented, regional and random just doesn’t work, especially in later chapters as the breweries begin to pop up faster than you can keep track of.

Add onto that mix his use of prose that left me reaching for a thesaurus on many occasions and we wind up with a book that spends most of its 416 pages feeling just a little bit out of reach–as if you’re being lectured to–and don’t we all love that feeling.

As a narrative it fails, but as an extensively researched broad overview of just about every important brewery in the United States it succeeds. Fritz Maytag, Steve Hindy, Garrett Oliver, Sam Calagione: they’re all here, complete with backstory and a brief glimpse into what makes them tick. Not an in-depth profile, mind you, as there’s just too many to go that deep–a bit of backstory, maybe an interview snippet, and we’re off to the next famous brewery down the line, and boy there are a lot of them.

In short, is it worth a damn? Yes.

Where did they get a picture of my living room?

Buy it now: Amazon: $15.85 ($9.02 Kindle), iBooks: $15.99,Chapters/Indigo: $15.85 ($12.95 Kobo)

Written by chuck

August 28th, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Beer and You

Tagged with ,

One Response to 'A Tale of Two Books'

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  1. I’m not sure if you read the book “Fermenting Revolution” – How to Drink Beer and Save the world. It is a fantastic read.

    I highly recommend this book as it goes into the history of beer and why certain beers are named the way they are, like why do all Doppelbock names end with a -tor.
    And did you know women did the brewing of the beer traditionally?


    28 Aug 13 at 15:51

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