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Archive for June, 2014|Monthly archive page

A Craft Beer Book Review: The Craft Beer Revolution

In The Beer on June 22, 2014 at 10:12 pm

I love to read. But I don’t have much time to read these days.

This past week I had some time alone, away from the brewery to stick my nose in a book. The Craft Beer Revolution: How a Band of Microbrewers is Transforming the World’s Favorite Drink by Steve Hindy, a co-founder of The Brooklyn Brewery was so interesting that I had to carve out a little time tonight to tell you about it.

So…I’ve got Full Circle by New Holland Brewing on the patio table, Ani DiFranco and a cacophony of frogs and insects playing in the background as the sun goes down ending the first weekend of summer for 2014. craft beer revolution book

Steve Hindy’s first life was as a Associated Press journalist. He’s traveled the world and written about the news happening there, but in 1984 he returned with his family to live in New York where he took up home brewing, and in 1988 co-founded The Brooklyn Brewery.

Hindy’s new book covers the past 48 years of craft brewing in the US, beginning in 1965 with Fritz Maytag’s purchase of the failing Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco. Maytag’s was the pioneer of American craft beer.

This book is broken up in historical segments that are well-crafted and easy to read. Hindy spends particular time on “the class of 1988”, those brewers that started their breweries almost 20 years after Maytag’s and Anchor. Among that class were Wyncoop, Rogue, Deschutes, Matt, Goose Island and others. And since this is Hindy’s story, The Brooklyn Brewery story is told here, too.

An unusual number of English majors have found themselves involved in the industry (including yours truly), but all of the stories include an entrepreneurial spirit, a belief in their community, a love for great food and drink and the willingness to make sacrifices and work harder than they have ever worked before.

Hindy recounts the stories of the growth of some brands like Boston Beer, Pete’s Wicked Ale and Hart Brewing (which later became Pyramid) through IPOs. He covers the stories of some of the second generation of brewers which included figures that I also see as pioneers, such as Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch of New Belgium Brewing and Sam Caligione of Dogfish Head Brewing. About 1000 breweries sputtered to life in the 1990s, and Hindy tells about the innovation the new generation of craft brewers brought about in the US.

And of course the past decade has brought great change to our nation as American craft beer has become recognized around the world. Hindy discusses some of the political changes that have come about between brewing organizations in the US. He also provides some personal experience and thought about the three-tier distribution system that US Brewer’s operate under.

If you enjoy craft beer and want to learn more about its origins, this book is a must-read. There are parts of the book that will mean more to different folks depending upon if they are home brewers, distributors, retailers, or part of an American craft brewery.

It was in 2008 that I said to Brian, “These are our people,”  about craft brewers after reading a story about the craft brewing industry. Once again, Hindy reminded me that Brian and I follow in the footsteps of great people that have helped pave the way for craft beer in the US.

I’m glad to read their stories of working late into the night, of their belief in making a high quality product, of their budgets and brew houses built with financial creativity. I especially loved reading about Kim Jordan (New Belgium) picking her son up from school and delivering cases of beer to retailers with him in tow, and after putting him to bed at night, working into the night on marketing and other aspects of their fledgling brewery. Perhaps the most exciting take away from this book for me is that there is still a lot of American craft beer history to be written, and our little brewery here in the Ozarks is part of that.

Thank goodness there’s a high percentage of English majors in the craft beer industry because we have the opportunity to read books like this one! I don’t know what’s on your summer reading list, but you should definitely take some time to read this one. Best enjoyed with an American brewed craft beer in hand!