Just about anyone with a modest amount of beer knowledge will tell you that right here, right now is the best time in the history of mankind to be a beer drinker. With the most breweries in the United States since Prohibition and a global culture that is thriving and innovating, there are choices on tap like never before, using ingredients that a generation ago would have been considered taboo by beer makers. And looking around at any one of the 4,800 breweries currently operating in the U.S. will reveal a clientele as diverse as the nation itself.
The truth, however, is that while it is a great time to be a beer drinker, it's also a confusing time. Poor quality, misinformation about flavors, and, perhaps, too much choice. Moreover, for every good news story about diversity of taste and positive economic impact, there's a dark side: Unfair business practices like large breweries paying for a tap instead of earning it by popular demand, small brewers denied access to ingredients by larger brewers monopolizing them, unsafe working conditions, and an undercurrent of sexism among brewers that still favors white males above all others. Quality often suffers as breweries try to grow too quickly and "craft" beers promote bitter, strong flavors at the expense of the more subtle brews.
To drink beer is easy. Pour, put to lips, and swallow. To think critically about beer is much harder. Appreciating and conscientiously participating in beer culture today is about more than downing pints and understanding flavors. It requires an understanding of everything it took to get that beer into your glass, looking and tasting the way it does, priced the way it is, and sold at that particular venue. Drawing on history, economics, and countless interviews with industry insiders, expert John Holl here provides a complete guide to beer today, exploring how beer and breweries are building communities, changing tastes, and shaping lives.
"Informative overview of the economic and cultural transformations surrounding the world of beer...The book is clearly written and...will appeal to neophyte beer drinkers and foodies."--Kirkus "Holl's good-natured and useful handbook offers helpful tips for the novice drinker, and topics of debate for beer connoisseurs. This is an excellent look at contemporary beer making, marketing, and consumption."--Publishers Weekly "In his latest book, John Holl invites discerning drinkers to join him in a frank conversation about craft brewing's recent successes and future challenges. Brevity and pithiness are two of its biggest strengths, and the fact that it covers so much ground means you'll finish the last page with, as promised, plenty to think about. I'd pair it with an Old Ale, a style well suited for sipping and contemplation."--Ben Keene, editorial director of Beer Advocate "John Holl's wonderfully informative yet remarkably fun, approachable, and relatable prose is truly for anyone who enjoys beer-from casual drinkers to full-on beer nerds and everyone in between. Holl hits all the major points for a seriously useful crash-course in glorious beer geekdom. Drink, think, and cheers!"--Lauren Buzzeo, Managing Editor at Wine Enthusiast Magazine "If you think craft beer is too geeky, too precious, and deeply in need of a reality check...John Holl is way ahead of you. You're ready; buy this book."--Lew Bryson, author of Tasting Whiskey "John Holl doesn't just offer an ideal primer on beer--he tells you why you should care about it in the first place, with good humor and insight gained from years of experience. For those who haven't had the pleasure of bellying up to the bar with one of beer's brightest, this is the next best thing."
--Daniel Hartis, editor of All About Beer Magazine "Few people on the planet have spent more time thinking and drinking beer, and as a leading journalist covering the beer industry John Holl has already done much to shape our thinking about the subject. In this must-read book, Holl distills his wisdom and shares everything he's learned."--Jeff Alworth, author of The Beer Bible