A beer aficionado takes readers on a tour of some of the West Coast’s most notable breweries.
Craft beer is more popular than ever, which ensures a built-in audience for this debut, which profiles more than two dozen of the best breweries in Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, and British Columbia. It’s clear from the opening pages that Richardson, a freelance food and beverage writer, is no casual quaffer. In the first entry, he pays a visit to Hawaii-based Maui Brewing and offers a behind-the-scenes peek at what really goes into producing their quality brew. This sets the template for the rest of the book, as Richardson hops around the West, visiting well-known breweries with national distribution, such as San Diego’s Stone Brewing, as well as smaller outfits, such as Reno, Nevada’s Brasserie St. James—whose owner, Richardson says, aims to elevate beer culture in his hometown—and community-supported Boise Brewing in Idaho. The author succeeds in his goal of producing more than just “Another craft beer bible,” instead offering “a travelogue that includes many of craft beer’s most interesting characters.” He takes the time to sit down with brewers and find out how they got started in the industry, and he learns not only their brewing techniques, but also their opinions on the state of craft beer in America and even suggested food-beer pairings. The experience is a bit like tagging along on a tasting tour with an informed friend who’s able to translate the unique characteristics of any given brew into words. Those with a working knowledge of the subtleties of craft beer will get the most out of this book, although members of what Richardson dubs “the mainstream beer crowd” may be inspired to step out of their comfort zones after reading about the “velvety, lactose-laden head…[and] hints of vanilla and oatmeal and a dash of chocolate” that characterize Paso Robles, California–based Firestone Walker Brewing’s Nitro Merlin Milk Stout or the “subtle orange hints” of Boonville, California–based Anderson Valley Brewing’s Blood Orange Gose.
A solid work of food journalism that will appeal to beer experts and novices alike.