A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Bailey -

I'm finding this repeated claim about the "vehemence" of critics a bit weird. I'd say the majority of those commenting on the book or adding to the Wiki are being anything but vehement.

We could have written a really nasty review -- we didn't, because we recognised the positives. Ditto The Reluctant Scooper and various others. Other than Martyn and Ron's, even the very negative reviews have been unemotional and balanced.

But I guess there's no story in "bloggers and beer writers react largely positively and constructively to ambitious book which isn't perfect".

braukerl -

What a fatuous article. Pretty sure the majority of people offering criticism have either ordered or bought the book with, you know, their own money. What more support can a publisher expect?

The tenor of Clay Risen's piece seems be "hush up peons or you'll never be treated like grownups". Fine, but isn't he the member of the established media wagging the finger and telling the ingrates to shape up? Bit of a self fulfilling prophecy.

The robust debate about the OCB is surely a sign of the health of the beer community (sorry Alan) at large. I've certainly learnt a variety of interesting stuff from it and I haven't even received the book yet. Maybe i'll even make some additions to the wiki.

jesskidden -

I've tended to keep my OCB wiki entries to factual ones and "additional" comments and, I suppose, some could be said to be "matters of interpretation" but the claim that the book is "Thoroughly illustrated" kicks in my desire to give some opinions.

Almost all of the historical illustrations, for US breweries and many others, are from one source- the Pike Microbrewery Museum. Their addition seems to be more of an afterthought and just "pretty pictures" rather than any having any relevance to the entries themselves.

With US label reproductions, most are noted as being "circa 1933" which strikes me as a way to say, "These are from after Repeal but we're not going to bother with any research beyond that".

A P. Ballantine & Sons recipe pamphlet is listed as "circa 1933" but the company did not even re-open after Repeal until 1934.

The important ale and lager brewer C. Feigenspan of Newark, NJ has 3 illustrations but no other entry in the book.

One UK label is damaged. Hundreds of thousands of old labels exist in collections, and they chose a damage one?

16 color plates- but not one of a current or historic brewery- some of the most beautiful industrial architecture ever . Instead, there are generic looking photos of ingredients, a close up of sprouting barley and a Getty Image of a homebrewer pouring malt syrup into a pot?

If one wants an example of a "thoroughly illustrated" beer book, Michael Jackson's World Guide to Beer should be the template.

Jeff Alworth -

Second Bailey. And I was offered up as the example of the "intramural" carping typical of the degenerate blogosphere, which was a bit harsh. (My review was certainly not an assault.) The worst thing is that he refused to use my name. Double harsh.

Bailey -

Jeff -- and as I read your comments, you weren't suggesting that it was wrong for the book to be selective about which breweries were covered, just that the criteria for selection didn't seem consistent/sensible.

Alan -

Great point at Outside the Beltway:

"...It’s not so much that wine’s high cost and therefore relative exclusivity supports a snobbish interest in writing about it but rather that beer’s relative affordability makes reading about it less necessary..."

Does that cause less need for beer guides?

Gary Gillman -

Gosh, it really is all relative. To me there has been a sustained wave of beer-writing since the 1970's, if one takes into account too "brewspapers" and magazines. Every year numerous books are published on beer travels, beer ratings and indeed, or increasingly, beer and brewing history. Just to pick one in the ratings/palate description area, Ben McFarland's book of a few years ago really stood IMO, with good geographical scope and a distinctive writing style.


Alan -

Quite right, Gary. I kinda think Mr. Risen no more attuned himself to the state of beer writing than he did to the purpose of the wiki before he threw that column up on to the magazine's website.