by Brian Yaeger
Published in 2008
St. Martin's Press
There isn't much that compares to the energy, history, smells and wares one experiences when visiting a brewery. The smell of the barley, fermentation tanks with the brewer's yeast chugging away, the din of the crowd enjoying their samples being pulled by, more often than not, the brewer responsible. Combine that with the open road, driving through the countryside, seeing city after city, brewery after brewery, and you get the great American beer geek road trip!
Red, White and Brew: An American Odyssey is a book about just that. The author, Brian Yaeger, embarked on a road trip most beer lovers would salivate over. Brian planned to travel from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, and then back east again, taking different routes in each direction. Along the way, he would visit breweries, chat with brewery founders and owners, and of course, drink the beer.
During his trip, Brian interviewed some pretty big names in the beer industry, some who have since written books of their own and starred in beer-related TV shows. Dick Yuengling, Jr. from Yuengling, Larry Bell of Bell's Brewery, Kim Jordan of New Belgium, Kurt and Rob Widmer of Widmer Brothers Brewing, Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing, and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. There are many others also, and Brian details the history of the breweries, not in a boring way, but through the eyes of the brewery owners who lived through it.
I really enjoyed the style and flow of Brian's book. For one, it wasn't just a lesson in brewing history. Brian brings the reader along for the adventure, and gives the writing a real personal touch. If you're interested in learning a bit more of the history of American "craft" brewing, then this book is for you. It would also please the beer lover on your holiday shopping list!