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Fans of good beer will enjoy Noel’s explorations, which make for a useful cautionary tale as well.

Mass-produced beer? You’re soaking in it—and sometimes, as this foamy exposé relates, under the guise of a trendy indie label.

Every hipster worthy of his chest-length beard may be a connoisseur of artisanal beer these days, but that wasn’t always the case. Just a few decades ago, apart from homebrew wizards who made grog in their basements, the ordinary stuff of American consumption was watery, sudsy, corporate lager. Then came the pioneering heroes, foremost among them John and Greg Hall’s Goose Island brewpub, a well-kept Chicago secret much beloved of drinkers. Goose Island innovated constantly, particularly by aging its brew in whiskey barrels, a technique that soon, as Chicago Tribune beer maven Noel writes, “became a necessity for any ambitious brewery.” Goose Island plied a lonely trade for a time; as the author notes, “the only craft brands with velocity in the city were Sam Adams Boston Lager…and Pete’s Wicked Ale.” Even there, the most popular of Goose Island’s many experiments was a blonde ale that was as close as it came to brewing a mass-produced beer. There’s portent there, and in Goose Island’s later production of a pilsner that was even closer to store-bought stuff, for when Anheuser-Busch came calling, the owners were only too glad to sell out, and to “the company that had spent decades thwarting the American beer industry with confusion, trickery, and dullness.” That big companies swallow up the little innovators is a standard plank in corporate capitalism, and Noel’s offended sensibility can be a little heavy-handed at times. However, Goose Island may prove an outlier, for, as the author also notes, whereas when Goose Island began, craft beers and their makers were rare, now there are northward of 2,500 breweries in the U.S., so that “after decades of Big Beer’s bland dominance, American beer is rife with choice.”

Fans of good beer will enjoy Noel’s explorations, which make for a useful cautionary tale as well.

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61373-721-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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