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Grape vs. Grain At Anchor


Charlie Bamforth, who’s the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at U.C. Davis (and was my teacher when I took the brewing short course there) has a new book out, Grape vs. Grain. This at least Bamforth’s eighth book, though many have been quite technical in nature. This one is more reader friendly, and addresses the debate over which beverage is more deserving of respect.

From the book publisher’s website:

Why is wine considered more sophisticated even though the production of beer is much more technologically complex? Why is wine touted for its health benefits when beer has more nutritive value? Why does wine conjure up images of staid dinner parties while beer denotes screaming young partiers? Charles Bamforth explores several paradoxes involving these beverages, paying special attention to the culture surrounding each. He argues that beer can be just as grown-up and worldly as wine and be part of a healthy, mature lifestyle. Both beer and wine have histories spanning thousands of years. This is the first book to compare them from the perspectives of history, technology, nature of the market for each, quality attributes, types and styles, and the effect that they have on human health and nutrition.

Last night, I attended an event at Anchor Brewing in San Francisco to promote the book. A few dozen people enjoyed Anchor’s hospitality, a few beers and some snacks. Bamforth gave a short talk and answered questions. My favorite quote: “Wine is a fine beverage, but beer is better.”

Charlie favors traditional styles and tends to prefer more technically savvy brewing. He hammers home the idea of “consistent excellence” as the highest goal for brewers and doesn’t much care for beer made with non-traditional ingredients. His background is as a researcher first and then as quality control at Bass for many years before moving to the states to teach at U.C. Davis, so I’ve never found that too surprising. He’s been a great advocate for beer and gives numerous talks around the world, informing his audiences about beer’s healthfulness and the reasons it’s at least the equal — if not more complex and impressive — than wine. The new book, Grape vs. Grain, is his latest project in that on-going mission.

Charlie Bamforth with John Dannerbeck from Anchor Brewing.


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