Upcoming Events for Great American Craft Beer…

So now that we have a few weeks of interviews behind us, now comes the fun part: celebrating Great American Craft Beer. The lovely folks at Cambridge Common will be hosting the book release party for Great American Craft Beer on Thursday September 2, 2010, from 6-8pm. There is some information on Facebook and a little more about this event on BeerAdvocate. Everyone is welcome to join us and beer will be pay as you go.

Great American Craft Beer Book Release Party.

Come join us for the release party for beer writer Andy Crouch’s new book, Great American Craft Beer. He’ll be leading one of Cambridge Common’s Beer Skools, talking about selections from his book (all available on tap at the Common), and also will be signing copies of the book. There will be snacks, great beers, a wee bit of education, and a great night celebrating American craft beer.

Gordon’s Culinary Center and Beer Education.

Starting next month, I will be hosting a series of beer related events at the Gordon’s Fine Wine and Culinary Center in Waltham. We’re calling it “The Art, Beauty and Complexity of Beer; A Series of Not-So-Serious Discussions.” I will be hosting “a revolving lineup of engaging craft beer personalities as they dish out their opinions on everything from the state of American craft beer to the preposterous amounts of facial hair in the industry. As any good beer discussion must be, these intimate conversations will take place over samples of beer from the brewers themselves.”

The first installment of the series, “Brew to the Future,” first event will be held on September 8, 2010, and will go from 7-8:30 pm. I am fortunate to be joined by two of New England’s most interesting and exciting brewers: Dann Paquette, co-owner and brewer of Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project and Jon Curtis from the Haverhill Brewery. These two experienced and adventurous brewers will be discussing the impact of traditional brewing cultures on their work, from Jon’s modern take on German classics to Dann’s roots in English methods. With Jon and Dann, there will be no shortage of opinion, hilarity, and (of course) period costumes.

From the folks at Gordon’s on the venue: “Gordon’s Fine Wine and Culinary Center is the preeminent venue for beer education in the Boston area. Through trips, classes, festivals and electronic media, our knowledgeable beer staff is constantly busy championing the necessity for respect and admiration for mankind’s original beverage of choice.”

Great American Beer Festival – The Great American Craft Beer Experience.

We of course will be holding an excellent beer education and tasting event in Denver during the upcoming Great American Beer Festival. Join us for the Great American Craft Beer Experience, a tasting event featuring three of America’s most exciting and talented brewers.

Part book-release party, part celebration of American craft beer, the event will give attendees an excellent opportunity to taste beers from around the country and interact with the brewers.

Brewers will be attending from Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery (Paul Philippon), Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Matt Brynildson), and Odell Brewing Company (Doug Odell).

Beers: Duck-Rabbit: Milk Stout and Wee Heavy Scotch Ale; Firestone Walker: Double Barrel Ale, Union Jack, and Parabola; Odell: IPA and 90 Shilling. Other beers may be added.

Sponsored by BeerAdvocate, the event will feature at least six beers from these breweries, selected from Great American Craft Beer, in a tutored tasting event with the brewers themselves. Andy Crouch will moderate a panel discussion and attendees will be able to ask questions of the author and the brewers.

Limited to 50 tickets, for a more intimate event, so get yours while they last.

Ticket price is $45 and includes beer tastings, a signed copy of Great American Craft Beer, light appetizers, and a 6-issue subscription (just a taste) to BeerAdvocate magazine.

Buy Tickets

Please note tickets will be “will-call” (physical tickets will not be shipped; guest list at the event). And sorry: No refunds. No door sales. No media passes.

Newly opened, Stoney’s Bar & Grill is located at 1111 Lincoln Street in downtown Denver, Colorado.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Published in August 2010 by Running Press, Andy Crouch’s Great American Craft Beer takes readers on a passionate and informative journey through the most palate-pleasing ales and lagers produced by American craft brewers today. A personal guide and companion to the exciting world of American craft beer, this unique book also touches upon several related subjects including food, travel, history, and the stories and personalities of America’s best brewers. More than 60 styles and 350 beer profiles are accompanied by full-color photographs and illustrations of the beers and beer labels. It also includes perfect pairing recipes and profiles of 25 of the best beer bars in the country.

ABOUT ANDY CROUCH
Andy Crouch, an award-winning freelance writer, has provided articles to Ale Street News, American Brewer, Celebrator Beer news, New Brewer Magazine, Yankee Food News, and through his website, BeerScribe.com. He writes columns for both Beverage Magazine and BeerAdvocate Magazine. In addition, Crouch’s first book, The Good Beer Guide to New England, was published by the University Press of New England in May 2006. He resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Join Us For The Great American Craft Beer Experience: Denver – Sept. 17 – 6pm

Join us on September 17, 2010, at 6 p.m. for the Great American Craft Beer Experience, a tasting event featuring three of America’s most exciting and talented brewers.

Part book-release party, part celebration of American craft beer, the event will give attendees an excellent opportunity to taste beers from around the country and interact with the brewers.

Brewers will be attending from Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery (Paul Philippon), Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Matt Brynildson), and Odell Brewing Company (Doug Odell).

Beers: Duck-Rabbit: Milk Stout and Wee Heavy Scotch Ale; Firestone Walker: Double Barrel Ale, Union Jack, and Parabola; Odell: IPA and 90 Shilling. Other beers may be added.

Co-sponsored by BeerAdvocate, the event will feature at least six beers from these breweries, selected from Great American Craft Beer, in a tutored tasting event with the brewers themselves. Andy Crouch will moderate a panel discussion and attendees will be able to ask questions of the author and the brewers.

Limited to 50 tickets, for a more intimate event, so get yours while they last.

Ticket price is $45 and includes beer tastings, a signed copy of Great American Craft Beer, light appetizers, and a 6-issue subscription (just a taste) to BeerAdvocate magazine.

Buy Tickets through the BeerAdvocate store.

Please note tickets will be “will-call” (physical tickets will not be shipped; guest list at the event). And sorry: No refunds. No door sales. No media passes.

Newly opened, Stoney’s Bar & Grill is located at 1111 Lincoln Street in downtown Denver, Colorado.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Published in August 2010 by Running Press, Andy Crouch’s Great American Craft Beer takes readers on a passionate and informative journey through the most palate-pleasing ales and lagers produced by American craft brewers today. A personal guide and companion to the exciting world of American craft beer, this unique book also touches upon several related subjects including food, travel, history, and the stories and personalities of America’s best brewers. More than 60 styles and 350 beer profiles are accompanied by full-color photographs and illustrations of the beers and beer labels. It also includes perfect pairing recipes and profiles of 25 of the best beer bars in the country.

ABOUT ANDY CROUCH
Andy Crouch, an award-winning freelance writer, has provided articles to Ale Street News, American Brewer, Celebrator Beer news, New Brewer Magazine, Yankee Food News, and through his website, BeerScribe.com. He writes columns for both Beverage Magazine and BeerAdvocate Magazine. In addition, Crouch’s first book, The Good Beer Guide to New England, was published by the University Press of New England in May 2006. He resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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The Blind Side…

In the beer world, it’s often de rigueur to make fun of seemingly naïve, judgment averse wine snobs and their penchants for spending money based upon label consciousness rather than actual flavor and quality. We’ve all read about behavioral science experiments where wine drinkers are given two bottles of wine, both filled with the same liquid but with two different labels. After being told that one bottle is considerably more expensive than the other, study participants routinely prefer the pricier bottle. Similarly, The Wine Trials, a 2009 book from Fearless Critic, caused a stir in the wine industry by reporting its findings that participants, both experts and novices, preferred much less costly wines to more expensive offerings in scientific blind tastings. Grounds for a good chuckle at snooty wine’s expense, right?

Well, not so fast. Who’s to say the same dilemma doesn’t also plague the world of craft beer? While a follow-up book, called The Beer Trials, failed to account for such wide disconnect between price and quality—Budweiser and Celebrator ended up about where you’d expect them to be—beer is a difficult comparator to wine in terms of testing whether people prefer to drink more or less expensive products. As the authors note, the price differentials between the most expensive craft beers (with certain scarcity promoting outliers aside) and the average macro offering isn’t particularly significant, paling in comparison to the difference between a $15 and a $150 bottle of wine.

But does that mean beer drinkers are off the hook when it comes to bias in our tasting preferences? We do live in a world where fans of Miller Lite can sit elbow to elbow at a bar with another patron who is enjoying a $8 short pour chalice of a world classic Belgian dubbel. It’s hard to find a similar comparison in the wine world. But I keep coming back to the imperial stout ratings conundrum. A quick look at the Best of BeerAdvocate beer list reveals a few things. First, about half of the top 50 beers are imperial stouts, with the rest comprised of other big, boozy styles or funkified options. Second, dozens and dozens of styles fail to make the list, with an entire branch of beer—the lager family—completely shut out of the party.

And while many of the listed beers are indeed excellent, what accounts for the odd stylistic disparity? Are we a collective of booze hounds? Or is high alcohol dark beer simply the most popular choice at many bars? To be sure, some inevitable factors, such as scarcity, are at work. Standing on a Portsmouth street corner all night waiting for the local brewery to offer its specialty imperial stout for sale the next day better make the beer taste awesome. But perhaps something else is at work that we should consider.

In preparing my book, Great American Craft Beer, I participated in a lot of blind tastings, something with which I had only limited previous experience. After creating the initial list of selections for the project, I expected that particular beers would certainly make the final cut due to their reputations. To my surprise, many of these highly sought after beers failed to qualify. I think the same experience applies to many highly hyped beers, as buzz attracts crowds for particular products.

The take away is this: while beer is a social beverage that is meant to be enjoyed in good company, it helps to occasionally step back and inspect the foundations of our beer knowledge and beliefs. As a means of improving your tasting ability or just to spice up your parties, the occasional blind tasting may lead to a newfound respect for a big brewery’s hefe-weizen or an often overlooked German Pilsener.

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Reviews of Great American Craft Beer…

My second book on beer, Great American Craft Beer, is now available to the public and some press reviews and mentions have started to arrive. I’ll try to post them here as I come across them, sometimes with a little pull quote or comment as needed, but mainly for you, the reader or prospective buyer, to get a better sense of the book. A little more information about the book is available on the Running Press website and on BeerScribe.com. Cheers!

Austin American-Statesman

The best book on the best American beer. Here’s your summer beach read: Andy Crouch’s “Great American Craft Beer”

My reading preference is a good book about beer, and I’ve got one for you: “Great American Craft Beer: A Guide to the Nation’s Finest Beers and Brewers” by Andy Crouch (Running Press, $22.95). Crouch is a…fine guide through the whole world of beer — its history, the brewing process, describing a proper atmosphere for tastings, style-specific glassware, the art of a proper pour and chef’s menus for beer dinners.

Crouch also aims to expand beer drinkers’ horizons while not turning them into bores, and he seeks to gently rein in the extreme beer trend…

Norman Miller, the resident Beer Nut for the Daily News Tribune and Gatehouse News Service

Crouch, who also authored one of my go-to beer travel books, “The Good Beer Guide To New England,” puts together an extremely informative book.

Josh Christie for the HopPress

On the first page of his new beer guide Great American Craft Beer, Andy Crouch writes “with the bounty of amazing beers available in every corner of America, never before has there been a better time or place to be a beer drinker.” Thus begins one of the best cases for American exceptionalism that I’ve read in years – not in the traditional political or social sense, but in the realm of brewing and beer. Great American Craft Beer isn’t just a new book to add to the increasingly crowded family of “beer guides.” The compendium is a love letter to craft beer in the US of A, and that there’s enough to fill a 300+ page book is a testament to a brewing movement that’s barely thirty years old.

If you’ve never read any of Crouch’s beer reviews, you’re in for a treat with this book. Beer reviewers are occasionally (and rightfully) accused of having a limited vocabulary when writing about beer, and the author is doing his best to expand our vernacular. Cotton candy hops, notes of graham cracker, “armpit stinky” – Crouch isn’t necessarily Gary Vaynerchuk, but he’s got the same panache for describing what he smells, sees and tastes.

Great American Craft Beer is a book that has some sex appeal for beer lovers from novices to experts. For beginners, Crouch attacks tasting technique, history and all kinds of beer minutia in a super-accessible way. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool beer geek, then yes, some bits on history and glassware are probably retreads. If you’re on a budget and own a bunch of beer guides already, you’ll want to leaf through Great American Craft Beer to make sure it has enough “new” material to excite you. Still, the wit in the writing, the wonderfully descriptive beer reviews and some of the pieces that are uniquely Andy merit a purchase in this reviewer’s opinion (and I know from beer guides).

USA Today

An interview with the Dispatches department about the book and the growing popularity of American craft beer around the world.

Library Journal

“Rather than an exhaustive treatment, this is a guide to available beer styles via a selection of choice examples of each. In an easy manner, Crouch discusses each beer, noting the flavor accents, color, aroma, and feel. He also includes a list of great beer bars and tips on beer selection. Verdict In recent years, beer in America has become more diversified as the craft beer movement has gained momentum, and Crouch gives the beer lover great suggestions to explore.”

Express – Washington Post

Author Andy Crouch treats beer like a fine wine, not something to gulp at a tailgate party. The book offers both a brief history of brewski and tips on properly enjoying a cold one, but mostly serves as a guide to hundreds of American craft beers — from the dark and roasty to the rich and fruity.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

An interview about the book and the resurgence of craft beer in the South.

What’s Cooking on Wine

A recent visit to What’s Cooking on Wine, wherein I discuss why wine tourists to Sonoma and Napa should head up to Santa Rosa to enjoy the real Russian River treasures. Starts around 14:30.


SignonSanDiego.com

“Andy Crouch does an admirable job of surveying the state of our favorite industry, the U.S. microbrews. His new book (Running Press, $22.95) is crisp, clean and a lot of fun to pore over. (That’s pore, p-o-r-e, not pour, p-o-u-r!)”

But the reviewer chides me a bit for not including some of his favorite local beers. While one or two of his selections appear not to have been in business yet (or for very long) when I wrote the book, I look forward to trying them soon. In the meantime, I’ve written a short piece discussing the criteria for what beers I’ve included in the book and which of your favorites I had to pass over.

Masslive.com

In one of the more unusual non-reviews of my book, the local writer suggests you go and buy it based upon the quality of The Good Beer Guide To New England.

Everyone trying to promote craft beer deserves attention from my column. Or maybe I should say almost everyone. Some people just don’t merit any attention at all. But Andy does. If you get a chance, check his book out.

MySanAntonio.com

A number of books about craft beer have recently hit the market. Most are guidebooks or simple beer reviews that attempt to tell you the best beers in the world.

There’s a lot of shifting sand in the craft beer world today, especially in this era of expansion and changing ownership. Understanding styles and what makes one beer superior to another is more important than beer ratings.

That’s why my favorite book so far is “Great American Craft Beer” by Andy Crouch.


LAWeekly

Concludes that “As a critic, Crouch has done a thorough job.” The reviewer takes me to task for the general state of books on craft beer, some of our design and editorial choices, and for spending only two-third’s of the book on beer reviews…

Ohio.com

Cleveland.com

Tulsa World

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