A Few Words About That Little USA Today Article…

So a couple of times a month, I receive requests from media around the country to offer some thoughts on craft beer or to suggest some good places to go. After traveling around the American beer scene for more than a decade, I’m more than happy to assist. Some times the media are calling from a little newspaper in Oklahoma and some times it’s USA Today. I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by USA Today for my book, Great American Craft Beer, when it was released and the paper recently called again for help with an article titled, 10 Great Places to Get A Craft Beer.

The criteria for the latest article were as follows: a geographically diverse selection of American brewpubs in medium to large urban settings. This doesn’t mean breweries or tap rooms or your favorite local small town brewpub. Despite this, I’m still catching some blow-back from beer geeks with hurt feelings over my having not selected their favorite pub or brewery (remember the criteria now…) or having skipped their state.

The list was capped at 10, not 100. If you want more detail on your local brewery or beer, try reading Great American Craft Beer and let me know how I did.

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Discussing The Alcohol Arms Race On NPR’s ‘The Splendid Table’

A few weeks back, I taped a segment on session and high alcohol beers for American Public Media’s radio program, The Splendid Table, hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. It’s a program that I have enjoyed for many years and it was a pleasure to be invited to discuss this topic while promoting my book, Great American Craft Beer. I’ve done a fair number of radio interviews over the years and even majored in radio and television production for a while in college before moving over to the magazine world for my degree. Despite this, hearing myself talk about the topic while sitting in a car was an unusual yet fun experience. If you missed the broadcast and haven’t picked up the podcast, I’ll embed the interview here. Thanks to Alan at A Good Beer Blog, from whom I’ve essentially stolen this setup. The interview starts at about the 24th minute and goes for about six minutes. Thanks to the show’s staff and host for having me on. Hope to be back in the future.

An excerpt on session beers and picking the right glassware from Great American Craft Beer the book is available on The Splendid Table’s website.

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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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Great American Craft Beer: What’s Included, What’s Not…

After a lot of pitching, discussing, researching, writing, editing, and planning, my book Great American Craft Beer, is now available for purchase. Available at on-line bookstores (clicking the link above will help direct some more of the money back to its author), the book will be making its way to bookstores around the country over the next few weeks. I actually just received my author’s copies yesterday but reviewers have had theirs for a day or two earlier and we’re already starting to see some reviews. I’ll set up another page to collect those reviews as they come in but for now, I just wanted to address one issue that has come up so far: the selections in the book.

There are around 1600 breweries operating in the United States today, a number that continues to slowly grow every year. Many of these breweries, especially the brewpubs, produce 10, 20, 30, or even more individual beers during the course of a year. No one has an exact estimate as to how many individual beers all American brewers produce but the neighborhood could be somewhere from 5,000-15,000. But considering that more than 2,200 beers from only 462 breweries will be served in the festival hall at this year’s Great American Beer Festival (more than 3,500 will be judged), I’d venture to say the total number of beers produced is probably north of 10,000.

With those numbers in mind, let’s talk about what is in the book. The heart of Great American Craft Beer includes profiles and tasting reviews of nearly 350 beers drawn from several hundred American craft brewers in dozens upon dozens of styles. I also profile 25 great American beer bars. These reviews are detailed and attempt to capture the essence of the beers and establishments, all while attempting to create a grander narrative about the importance of taste and flavor. So even if we take a conservative estimate of the total number of beers produced in America today, the entries into a book such as mine is always going to be to exceedingly small, probably less than five-percent of all beers produced.

So it is along these lines that I note early in the book that the process of selecting beers for inclusion was anything but easy. I addressed the issue because I was concerned that readers and reviewers might understandably take umbrage if their favorite beer was not selected. Beyond mere flavor, I also wanted to create some balance between the beers I profiled. Often was the case where I was faced with choosing from a dozen or more excellent style examples, knowing I had to whittle the number down to only six selections. In making my selections, I had to take care in assuring some geographic diversity (of course San Diego, Portland, or Seattle could have whole chapters dedicated to their famed IPAs), some balance between production breweries and brewpubs, and some consideration of how easy it would be to find a particular beer. Accordingly, I wrote the following in the section preceding the reviews:

Creating a list of the best beers from the litany of great American craft brewers turns out to be a pretty daunting and restless task. While the tasting part certainly has its moments, the winnowing process leaves a substantial number of excellent brewers out in the cold. In this guide, I’ve endeavored to present you with the very best beers from the top breweries in the selected styles. While not always resolute in my devotion to the doctrine of style guidelines, I have attempted to shadow their widely-accepted framework. You’ll find several levels of balance, ranging from geographic diversity to a representative equilibrium between beers produced by small and local brewpubs and regional and national craft brewers, whose beers are generally much more widely available. Along these lines, you may find that a beer from your favorite brewery has been left out. In reviewing more than a thousand beers from several hundred breweries, be sure to understand that this is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of breweries that don’t find their way into these pages. The reviews remain a snapshot of several excellent beers in a style, not the final word on the only acceptable options.

As it can be frustrating to read about an unattainable beer, I’ve tried to restrict the numbers of beers that you’d have a better chance at seeing Sasquatch than trying. I’ve also tried to create a balance between the beers produced by production breweries, whose products are primarily purchased and enjoyed off-premise, and brewpubs, whose beers are generally enjoyed in-house. As brewpub beers rarely get distributed too far from their central base of operations, beers from production breweries tend to outnumber those from brewpubs in the following pages. While a great deal of work went into crafting a balanced list of beers—with some consideration given to geographic diversity and product availability—it’s important to keep in mind that breweries frequently change their lineups and some beers may occasionally get dropped from portfolios, while others may transition from seasonal to year-round release. If your heart is set on trying a particular beer that you can’t quite seem to find, feel free to give the brewery a call for some assistance.

I hope that readers will keep these points in mind when considering my selections. Many hundreds of other beers certainly could have found a home in the book and I would have loved to include all of your favorites, but the realities of publishing don’t allow for that. Maybe we can work on a second volume next time. Cheers

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