The Craft Beer Revolution
As the move to better beers gets bigger and bigger, publishing companies are starting to realise that there is a market for books about the history of the craft beer scene in the USA.
Late last year we had Tom Acitelli’s The Audacity of Hops (a rather icky pun on Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope. If you want to be taken seriously, don’t name your book as a pun). This was a book I found too weighted down by detail, as though the author had done so much research that he felt the need to use every last bit of it. The result was a book that was at times a slog to get through.
This year brings us the effort from Brooklyn Brewery founder and former journalist Steve Hindy. Simply called The Craft Beer Revolution it’s a mix of personal and general history. While it’s an easier read than Acitelli’s effort that mix of Hindy’s personal history as part of Brooklyn Brewery and a general overview of the scene can jar.
It means the book has two different tones – a more passionate one for those sections in which he is personally involved and a less passionate one for those chapters in which the “I” pronoun is not used. The general history tends to come off as a bit dry, perhaps because as Hindy is involved in the industry he lacks perspective as to what might interest the reader.
More enjoyable is the personal history, which includes Hindy’s stoushes with Jim Koch of Sam Adams fame. Hindy raises a few eyebrows at Koch’s antics in what is a really enjoyable part of the book. Craft brewers all seem to paint a public image of being one big happy family so it’s a pleasant surprise for Hindy to be open about the friction between at least two of them.
Overall, I think Hindy’s book suffers from the existence of Maureen Ogle’s American Brew. For me, that is still the best work on the US beer scene by a long way – even if it just touches on the craft beer scene. I can’t help but compare other beer histories to Ogle’s and, so far, I’ve found them to be wanting.