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 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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