Book review

Making a great beer book

We Make BeerWe Make Beer
Sean Lewis
St Martins Press (2014)
Okay, the subtitle of this book put me off for ages. It reads ‘‘Inside the spirit and artistry of America’s craft brewers’’. Spirit? Artistry? Oh, please – go away. To me that sounded just about as pretentious and wanky as that I Am A Craft Beer Drinker video.

Yep, I love that video. Any time I think I might be a bit of a beer snob I watch that and think ‘‘I’m about a billion light years from that’’…..So much snobbishness – ‘‘I expect my brewer to create trends, not chase them’’. and ‘‘we must educate the average beer drinker’’ (no, we must let them drink whatever the hell they want to drink, you goddamn snob. Just because you like something doesn’t mean it’s good).

Sorry, I digress – that ad riles me up sometimes.

So I was talking about the wanky subtitle of the book We Make Beer. But here’s the thing, it’s not wanky. Or pretentious. It actually does what it says on the label. Through stories about various brewers, it builds up a picture of, yes, the artistry and spirit of US craft brewers.

And it does so in a writing style that is totally lacking in pretentiousness. It’s split into chapters that deal with topics like collaboration, community, the creative process, family and others.

Lewis also even questions some of the prevailing attitudes of the beer scene – like whether geeks chasing ultra-rare beers might actually be hurting the scene, and why we even need to bother with the phrase craft beer any more.

As a book geek as well as a beer geek, I find the mark of a good book is when you wish it was longer. That’s what I felt at the end of We Make Beer.

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