Today’s beer film is really just a slideshow to music, but it’s such a great collection of photographs that it’s worthwhile anyway. The book, MICROBREWERS: 1981-1996: A Photo History, features a wealth of historic photographs of many of the pioneers of the craft beer industry taken by David Bjorkman, who co-founded New Brewer magazine in 1983 with Victoria Thomas and Charlie Papazian, and documented the nascent beer industry from 1981 to 1996 before moving to Mexico. The handmade book includes “over 300 photos of the first microbrewers in the United States” and can be purchased from Blurb. I bought it when it first came out in 2009, and despite its high price tag, it’s an awesome collection of photos. The song, by the way, is the traditional Irish song “Beer, Beer, Beer” performed by The Clancy Brothers.
My good friend Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, has a new cookbook on beer and food, Dinner In The Beer Garden, that’s she hoping to publish through Kickstarter. Like everything she does, it looks awesome. For as little as $15, you can get a copy of it as an e-book, and for a mere $25, you can be one of the very first on planet beer to put her recipes to the test with your favorite beers, using your own paperback copy of the book. For higher pledges, there’s even more cool stuff you can get, like t-shirts, signed copies, hoodies, and for the Pièce de résistance pledge, she’ll come and cook five of the recipes in the book for you and 12 guests.
[The book itself is] about pairing craft beer with plant-based recipes, enjoyed outdoors in gardens and other social spaces. This isn’t about traditional biergarten food like ham hocks and bratwurst. It’s a cookbook for people who like carrots and kale — as well as butter, fish, cheese and chocolate! Profiles of gorgeous brewery gardens, a chapter on the history and design of beer gardens, and juicy color photographs of recipes turn the book into a tasty read. Recipes are both original and contributed by home cooks and chefs in the craft brewing community.
Most of the hard work is already done; most of the recipes have been created and tested, photographs taken, and discussions with the printer — one she’s used for previous projects — have begun. All she needs is a little help from her friends to make her new cookbook appear in all of our hands, and the recipes inside filling our stomachs with deliciousness. If you love great food and beer, please consider pledging to become a backer of Lucy’s book at whatever level you feel comfortable.
This week was a fun one, in part because Tom Acitelli was in town on his book tour, promoting his new paperback The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution. He started Tuesday evening at the Anchor Brewery, where he spoke briefly, signed some books and all of us enjoyed a few beers.
The next day, Tom drove up to my house, and from there we had lunch at Russian River, and then we whisked over to the production brewery for a quick tour before doing a Bottom of the Bottle podcast at Beercraft in Rohnert Park. Then that evening Tom did an event at Lagunitas hosted by my local book store chain, Copperfield’s Books, before heading back home to Boston the following morning.
It was great fun hanging out for a longer period of time with Tom, as we’d only met briefly a couple of times before. His new book, The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution, seems very, very good. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the parts I’ve managed to find the time to read so far, and many people whose opinions I respect are all saying the same thing: that Tom has managed to write a comprehensive, thorough and enjoyable history of the craft beer since 1965. I heartily recommend his book to anyone new to the beer world, or anyone who wants to get some context to how we got to where we are today. It’s been a great journey.
My neighbor, friend and colleague Fred Abercrombie, is debuting his new book, Craft Beerds, tonight at Taps in Petaluma. The book is a raucous look at nearly 200 beer labels involving beards, or beerds, and it’s just in time to kick off SF Beerd Week.
Pick up your own copy of the book, signed by the author.
I’ll be there at least the first hour, too, but if you can’t make it tonight at Taps, consider one of the other book signing events taking place during SF Beer Week. First, there will be an event at 21st Amendment on Tuesday, February 12 (Lincoln’s birthday) starting at 6:30 p.m.
UPDATE: Author Fred Abercrombie with his bearded fans from last night’s book release party:
My friend and new neighbor Fred Abercrombie is even more of a graphics nerd than I am, but then he does it for a living. For his day job, he runs his own ad agency, while at night — after donning cape and cowl — writes at his beer blog Ünnecessary Ümlaut. He noticed one day that no one has really taken a look at all the beards, mustaches and facial hair that grace so many of the beer labels we see dotting the craft beer landscape. Sensing a hole in our deeper understanding of the world, he decided to do something about it. And so began Craft Beerds, subtitled “a well-groomed collection of craft beer labels.” Fred researched, photographed and laid out his hirsute book, but after it ballooned to 300 pages with over 175 breweries represented, he realized that he could no longer afford to publish it on his own. Undaunted, he turned to Kickstater (I love Kickstarter!) for a little help from his friends — or at least other like-minded whackadoodles.
With 19 days to go, he’s raised over half of the $8,000 he needs to print the book. The minimum to get a hardback copy of the book is a mere $25. For higher pledges, there are cooler rewards, such as getting your name in the book, t-shirts, prints and a signed copy of another book, The Facial Hair Handbook by two-time World Beard Champion, Jack Passion.
Below are some sample pages from the book:
So I would encourage every lover of beer and every lover of beerds to help ensure this book gets printed and published. Check out the Kickstarter page and see if you can help. Here’s more reasons why you should:
WHERE YOUR FUNDS ARE GOING:
Printing. Every single cent. The project grew from something cool that we could afford to self-publish, to something really cool we really need your help on. Really. Turns out, printing an almost 300-page hairy book is kinda expensive.
We’ve already collected, photographed and laid everything out. It looks beautiful — and handsome — but it needs your help to live the printed dream.
WHY DOES THIS NEED TO EXIST?
- Because no one’s paid a tangible tribute to all the killer art and packaging from the recent craft beer explosion. (There’s enough to fill a book)
- Because it’ll give exposure to many breweries you already love and want to succeed further.
- Because it’ll give exposure to many local, regional breweries you may not even know you love. Yet.
- Because we’ve broken the book into themed chapters that keep it fresh, every time you pick it up—Devilish Beerds, Royal Beerds, Side-Beerds and of course, Red Beerds, to name a few.
- Because craft beer and facial hair are a natural combo. Ever been to a beer fest? You can’t swing a growler without grazing a beard.
Go ahead, pledge. You know you want to. Even if you don’t want to, you really do. You just don’t know it yet. Check out the Kickstarter page and see all the potential rewards and good karma you could receive. Then try to resist. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
While doing some searching yesterday for beer pioneers, I found once more the book of photographs by David Bjorkman entitled MICROBREWERS: 1981-1996: A Photo History. Bjorkman co-founded New Brewer magazine, which is today the in house trade publication for the Brewers Association. The book came out a couple of years ago, self-published as a blurb book by Bjorkman, and I bought a copy right after I got a press release about it.
It’s filled with great black and white photographs of the very early days of craft beer and includes a lot of folks still making great beer today. Here’s how the book is described at the website:
In this homage to American microbrewers, international photojournalist David Bjorkman has created a photo gallery of brewers and breweries from 1981 to 1996. This collection of rare photos captures the early years of specialty brewing as the industry began its meteoric rise into the hearts of admiring beer-lovers nationwide.
Those were heady years filled with the pure joy of brewing. Brewers with big dreams opened their microbreweries, brewpubs and contract brewing companies on shoestring budgets, and succeeded in establishing their unique place in the history of American brewing. “Hand-crafted,” “fresh,” “flavorful” were how they described their beers, and it was the start of something special.
David’s photos document the pioneers and players who came to brewing from different backgrounds and disciplines, but who all had a passion for beer. Some became industry leaders, with their names, faces and beers known to beer-connoisseurs across the nation. Some shot to fame, but for lack of money or know-how fell into history. But all were dynamic and visionary, intense and driven to give beer their best.
Here are photos of the first microbrewers in the United States; of early Great American Beer Festivals; of Batch #176 being brewed at the Widmer Brewing Co.; of the Mendocino Brewing Co. team; and of hundreds of brewers across the country.
These photos provide a veritable “who’s who” of the early microbrewing industry, a history worthy of a place on every beer-lovers book shelf.
Below is a photo-collage video of many of the photos from the book. How many people can you identify?
While it’s actually been available for purchase for a few weeks already, today is the “official” publication date of The Oxford Companion to Beer, the new encyclopedic reference book on all things beer. It was put together by my friend and colleague, Garrett Oliver, who’s the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery in in New York, and the author of the seminal beer and food book, The Brewmaster’s Table.
The actual authors include something like 166 beer writers, brewers, suppliers, brewing scientists and researchers; experts in their fields one and all. In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of the contributors, too, and wrote around 25 of the 1,100 entries in the 900-page book. As a result, I don’t think it’s fair for me to review it, though I must say it’s getting fairly good press already, including a rave by the New York Times’ Eric Asimov, who called it the “ultimate beer guide.”
Published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), it’s already one of their most successful reference books. Perhaps the best evidence that the world was waiting for a book like this is the fact that it sold out, twice, before today’s official publication date. According to the OUP — who considers a reference book a success if it sells a few thousand copies — they sold out of the initial 10,000 print run from pre-orders, printed another 5,000 which also immediately sold out, and are now on the third printing, all before today’s publication date.
During GABF, OUP had a nice reception for all of the authors who were attending the beer festival this year, and so there were quite a few of us there to see the book for the first time and try the new wheat wine, named Companion, that was a collaboration between Garret and Horst brewed at the Brooklyn Brewery. Apparently it will only be available if you purchase the boxed set of the new book, which comes with a bottle of the beer and the book, a companion to the companion.
A recent book on beer and homebrewing, entitled Beer Craft appears to include the clever use of graphics, and in particular infographics, the best of which which are able to convey a great deal of information in a economical amount of space. Written by William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill, one of their charts was chosen by Fast Company’s Co.Design as the Infographic of the Day a few days ago. The infographic shows the number of breweries in America, along with total beer production, from 1800-2010.
At the beginning (of the timeline, at least) there were only around 200 breweries. Rum, and other spirits, were king, and the U.S. boasted 14,000 distilleries. The advent of pilsner in 1842, along with a wave of German and European immigration, helped along by the industrial revolution, saw the number of breweries steadily increase until around 1850, when all hell broke loose. At that point, the rise of breweries in America can only be described as meteoric. When the dust settled two decades later, the number of breweries peaked in 1873 at 4,131. Consolidation, and other facts, cut the number in half by 1900 and another score of years later the number was zero, thanks to the anti-alcohol zealots who pushed through Prohibition in 1919.
Even once Prohibition ended thirteen years later, the brewing scene never recovered to anything approaching its glory days of the late 19th century. Both the business world and the world in general had changed considerably — especially after World War II — and anti-alcohol factions never admitted defeat, but merely changed tactics and continued to attack alcohol using different strategies that continue right through to the present day.
The low point is around 1980, when a mere 44 breweries made a staggering amount of beer, most of it tasting exactly the same. Since that time, total production of beer has risen only slightly, but more promisingly, the number of breweries has exploded with the microbrewery revolution that began in 1976 (and which had its origins in 1965 San Francisco). Today, we’re at nearly 1,800 breweries, the largest number since the turn of the last century. And according to the Brewers Association’s crack brewery detective, Erin Fay Glass, there are roughly 600 new breweries in various stages of their start-up phases. At the rate things are going, we should hit 2,000 breweries in America pretty soon, and quite possibly before the end of next year. Yea, beer!
The beer cook, Lucy Saunders, published a great book five years ago called Grilling with Beer. I must confess I’m a little biased, because I contributed a short chapter to it on Oyster BBQ. The book is now out of print, though there’s still great demand for it. So Lucy’s planning on “putting together new chapters and recipes for [her] cookbook, GRILLING WITH BEER: bastes, barbecue sauces, mops, marinades and more made with craft beer.”
She’s using Kickstarter to raise the $28,000 she needs “to pay for the printing for the 224-page color cookbook (using recycled paper and eco-inks). Everyone who funds will be acknowledged on the grillingwithbeer.com website — and larger funders can get even more cookbooks, plus assorted goodies such as tastings and cooking demonstrations. Eventually, the cookbook will be sold (suggested price will be $21.95) where craft beer is sold!”
While you can pledge any amount on Kickstarter, pledge just $25 and get a copy of the book autographed by Lucy, a t-shirt and 5 recipe postcards. Such a deal! Whether you have a copy of the original book or not, here’s a great opportunity to get the new version and help out a very worthwhile project to get Lucy’s book back in print.
Today’s UK newspaper, The Independent, has a nice write-up of Patrick McGovern’s theory (among others) that it was the desire of early man to brew beer that caused them to abandon their hunter gatherer ways and settle down to a life of farming, in the process sparking nothing short of civilization itself.
In the article, Did A Thirst For Beer Spark Civilization?, McGovern says “I think most people see (this theory) as a very plausible scenario. But we don’t have all the evidence. I just wanted to put it out there as a worldwide hypothesis. Then over time maybe the different pieces can be put together from across the world.” McGovern is the author of Uncorking the Past — a book I heartily recommend — that goes into great detail about the evidence for his theories.