Read this: Brewed Awakening

March 9,2012 by 3 Comments

Joshua Bernstein took on an enviable task – to get to the core of the craft brewing movement and expose it to beer lovers.

His book Brewed Awakening (released in November 2011) documents his findings. I’m tempted to write that it appeals most to mid or higher level beers geeks, but it really is a great book for anyone struck by the beer curiosity bug. After all, if you’re interested in reading any book about beer, doesn’t that make you a geek at some level?

Joshua is a fitting author for this book. His tone is youthful and laid back, more suites to the newer generation of beer lovers than say, Michael Jackson’s more academic style. When he mentioned “Natty” in the introduction I knew that he was speaking my language.

The book is organized into themes like barrel aging, hoppy beers, and sours. I was happy to see that newer themes were covered like gluten-free beers, gypsy brewers, and special release events.

If I had to sum up the book in one line it would be “State of the Beer-World”. The craft beer world is overwhelming. There now around 2,000 craft breweries in the U.S. and some are pumping out more than two dozen unique brews. How the hell are you supposed to keep up?

Let’s face it – a lot of them simply don’t matter. That sounds harsh but what I mean is that there are hundreds of run of the mill pale ales and wheat beers out there. They aren’t extraordinary in flavor nor do they have significant meaning in brewing history.

Then there are those that have significance. They are the beers that we’ll look back on in 20 years and say, “That was a game changer.” That’s what I like most about Brewed Awakening. Josh separates the wheat from the chaff and says to the reader, “This beer is important. Drink it.”

The way he does it is like this – he discusses a topic, say session beers, and then highlights “5 To Try” at the end of the chapter. It’s unique way to do it since we’re used to seeing beers organized by style, and with this method you’ll find both lambics and barleywines in the “Beers to Cellar” section. You might like it, you might not.

“When people take my homebrew tour, the main attraction is the beer. Yet an equally important, if less acknowledged, lure is the voyeuristic thrill of entering a stranger’s home. There’s their toothbrush, their laundry basket, their cigarette-stained couch. Initially, attendees are awkward – until the second or third beer. Then the homey setting creates the kind of casual intimacy I wish existed at every bar. Strangers talk. Relationships bloom. It’s like a roving house party, which is a lovely thing.”

– Joshua Bernstein discussing his homebrew tours

The International Spotlight sections scattered throughout the book takes you on brief trips to breweries outside the U.S. . You learn that the craft beer craze is going strong in places like Mexico, Scotland, and Canada. I wrote a few beers down on my wish list if I am ever able to get my hands on them.

Overall this book is a great addition to your beer library and I¬†recommend¬†you pick up a copy. It’s a fun, easy read with nice graphics to boot (that matters to me). I hope Joshua writes another “State of the Beer-World” in 5-10 years and takes me along for the adventure.

About Billy Broas

He is the founder of The Homebrew Academy, a BJCP beer judge, and the homebrewing expert on the Rocky Mountain PBS television show Colorado Brews. He lives in the fine beer town of Denver, Colorado.

3 responses to “Read this: Brewed Awakening”

  1. Sheppy says:

    Joshua was on the Brewing Network not too long ago. I checked this out the book from the library but never got around to actually reading it. Going to have to get it again.

  2. We enjoy reading about all the beers and beer stories this blog reports on. We are in the planning stages for a new brewery in Northeastern USA called Charter Oak Brewing Company LLC and our business plan is to grow to over 25,000BBL within 5 years.
    The breweries and stories you report on, allow for much encouragement.
    A True Legend!

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