Sorry, yet another book review, the good news is I am on track for my reading goal. The Audacity of hops is not my typical read, I usually read brewing focused books. This book is about the rise of craft beer in America (the craft beer movement if you will), from the resurrection of Anchor and creation of the New Albion brewery to todays meteoric growth. It includes the many ups and downs, and side tracks along the way. It focuses on the breweries, their founders, and their business stories. It doesn’t pay much attention to the accompanying industries and moguls, like Chris White, David Logsdon, or Roger Briess which provided necessary ingredients to make these breweries possible. This book is less about the brewing of beer and more about about the growth of an industry and the pitfalls of that rapid growth. It’s a sizable book, at 416 pages (I read it on the kindle), but a large percentage of it is citations, bibliography, and index, it’s less daunting than it initally appears. The story is told in a very loose narrative, which fits the information, but makes it less of a page turner. The chapters are concise, but the story wanders through these loosely aligned stories to give you the bigger picture. If you are looking for a general read about how many of the key players in craft beer got their start, and grew, this is a good place to start. There are more concise and definitive pieces on the formation and growth of specific brewers as told by the brewers themselves, Brewing up a Business – Dog Fish head, Beer School – Brooklyn Brewing, and Beyond the Pale – Sierra Nevada to name a few.
Tom Ancitelli did a good job of capturing the larger picture of the growing market segment. As a craft enthusiast I enjoyed hearing some of the history that I’d never read before. I’m not old enough to remember the ‘contract’ controversy from Dateline, or remember the first craft shake out. Learning Anchor’s Liberty Ale is a centennial focused IPA, I love the hop, but the beer is not even on my radar. (Must rectify that). A tasting room, which is now a fixture in modern small breweries, wasn’t a given back then. Learning how styles that Michael Jackson fomented, and Charlie Papazon’s BA solidified. Makes me realize that when you are doing something revolutionary in an industry you can’t look within, you need to look outside the norms to find an opportunity that others are overlooking. The book makes me also makes me want to read some of Jackson’s works to learn more about the styles as they were 20 years ago.
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