I had lunch with author Ian Coutts at the Kingston Brew Pub today after finding out we lived in the same town. He provided me with a review copy of his new book, Brew North as well as an invite to the book launch a couple of Sundays from now. It was all like living in Toronto - the Big Smoke itself - for a moment there, talking face to face with someone involved with beer.
We talked about his interest in beer and sources for his book, including the great collection of breweriana as well as booze can images from the 1700s to the twenty-first century. After reading In Mixed Company, it easy to point out that this is a pop history but it is a good one. The thing that caught my eye immediately was the quality of the images. The high production quality of this paperback results in very crisp and detailed photos, including a number in my favorite section, the one on the little discussed dreary phenomena know as the "beer parlour." The Canadian standard drinking establishment from the end of prohibition to the 1970s regulated to be the opposite of a saloon, these were dark, male, dull places without a bar, music, women, windows, air or until a certain point the right to stand up with your beer and walk across the room. I recall around 1982 being offered a raw steak in one of the last of these places, Halifax's Ladies Beverage Room or LBR. It was still in its Dominion Store wrapper, flashed from under the coat of its shoplifter.
Logically divided in to eras based on the regulation and restrictions on beer, on homeliness and later homogeneity of brewing in Canada, this is a book worth giving to the newbie and intermediate good beer fan with an interest in history - including up to the present day with a photo of Bar Volo with Ralph himself looking out from amongst the crowd from under his hat. It is a great addition to the still all too small selection of writing of the history of beer in Canada. I suggested to Ian that he could put another ten of these books out - one on each province. I couldn't tell from his expression if he thought I was mad or if there was a proposal to his publisher being made mentally right in front of me.
Mark your Google calendar mobile apps. Book launch at the Kingston brew pub, Sunday September 19th from 3:30 to 6:30 pm.