Tweeeeeet!!! That's it. Twenty-one entries plus this one makes twenty-two. [Update: a late entry makes 23!] That many posts were linked in the comments answering the question I posed for this month's edition of The Session: "What beer book which has yet to be written would you like to see published?" What can we glean from these score and deuce of entries? First, a short note on each.
A. The Submissions:
1. Glen at "Beer is Your Friend" wrote about his home of Australia and gave three ideas: (i) an Australian version of Pete Brown’s Man Walks Into A Pub; (ii) a travel narrative visiting loads of breweries around Australia; and (iii) picking a load of different beers from Australia and devoting short chapters to writing the history of each one.
2. Allen Huerta of the "Active Brewer" analogized a bit, comparing the writing of a book to the shifting interests in beer.
3. Boak and Bailey were a bit more specific narrowing it down to (i) post-WW2 history and (ii) all of Europe.
4. The Beer Nut of Ireland narrowed it down even more to (i) modern brewing history, (ii) Ireland and (iii) pre-2006.
5. Velky Al of "Fuggled" got out the microscope, drilled down and asked for two very specific things: (i) a history of brewing in the monasteries of Ireland and Scotland including lots of period correct methods for the various stages of brewing and (ii) an English translation of "Geschichte des Brauwesens in Budweis" by Reinhold Huyer first published in 1895.
6. Stan Hieronymus SHAZAMED!!! his three suggestions: (i) more on indigenous beer; (ii) more national or regional books like Martyn Cornell’s Beer: The Story of the Pint: The History of Britain’s Most Popular Drink; and (iii) a book on an idea related to this post about web stats - he's "pretty sure somebody clever could wrap a very interesting book around this topic, or use it to write something I would find totally silly and useless. Strangely intriguing."
7. Knut of Norway names names. He wants Lars Marius Garshol to be given a scholarship to write about the history of small-scale brewing in The Nordic countries and the Baltic countries, including Finland and Russian Karelia. AND he wants a book on European beer brewing history starting with historical and archeological sources, painting the broad strokes of the major players with "lots of tables and figures."
8. Derrick Peterman at "Ramblings of a Beer Runner" asks for a book on beer economics, written by an actual economist.
9. Daniel Hartis suggests we need "A Confederacy of Dunkels", a novel about one man's rise through the stages of good beer from first time sipper to courted brewer.
10. Sean Inman recommends the writing of a book "on the both the science and art of designing and growing a new hop from start to finish.
11. Ashley Bower of "Craft Beer Nation" wants a book on session beers including "the history of commercial session beer, special aspects of brewing a good session beer, and how-to tips for home brewers looking to brew their own."
12. Oliver Grey told us he has a book on the go, told us of SIX topics he wants covered lickidee split and then told us what he does not want to see written: "new “guides to beer” that don’t add anything to the already massive pile of beer information available, well, pretty much everywhere."
13. Thomas Cizauskas of "Yours For Good Fermentables" asked... nay pleaded for a proper book on cask craft beer in the USA... a term which may make a reader from England confused. Think real ale.
14. Maureen Ogle would like a book that book ponders the question "does the modern American beer industry (and the culture attached to it) represent the leading edge of a new capitalism?" Unlike most of these other layabouts, she tasks herself to write it.
15. Brett Domue of "Our Tasty Travels" longs for "a more literary take on what makes a beer a whale."
16. Allan MacCormick of "Growler Fills" wants to read a book that puts the business of craft beer into perspective, "dives deeper into the inherent tensions. That incorporates the other tiers into the discussion and says: THIS is craft beer. All its glory AND its warts."
17. Aaron at "WhatchuDrinkin?" points out something so obvious I never noticed it before: "there isn’t much out there on Belgian brewing history — in English anyway... I want a comprehensive book. I want someone to go out and research the history of Monastic brewing. I want someone to tell the full story of Cantillon and Lambic. I want to know more about Saison Dupont. I want it all in a single book I can flip through whenever I feel it. It might be three thousand pages long, but I’d read that book."
18. Dan over at B-Lo's brewery Community Beer Works asks for a book "about beer, brewing and brewers as a force of positive social change."
19. Jay Brooks, the overlord of The Session, wants craft beer fiction including regularly published short fiction.
20. Jon Abernathy, owner and operator of the world's oldest beer blog "The Beer Site" looks forward to three books he'd like to read: (i) A history of hop farming in America; (ii) a novel involving a beer ticker-type seeking out Ghost Whales that don’t exist anymore so he or she invents or co-opts a time machine... "hijinks ensue"; and (iii) Stan's book about indigenous beers.
21. Roger at "Bottled Roger's Beers" offers us an example of his short fiction, BeerPunk, entitled "Last Call for the Finest" as a way for asking for more of it.
22. Brian Devine of "The Roaming Pint" shared his wish for "a book that outlines the tenants of travel through a beer focused lens." And he, too, wants to write his dream book. But he as also added this: "I would love to see a book on the craft beer community from an outsider’s point of view who can really dig into a topic to uncover the things that we can’t see being so close to the industry." Good idea.
B. The Themes I Most Want To See or Steal
An impressive range of ideas. Plenty, as Stan suggests, to steal from. I have three books in some sort of first draft myself at the moment. As one author of The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer, it should come to no surprise that fiction is involved. As the co-author of two histories, you may well be seeing a pattern if these all pan out. But, history is getting written. Not all of it and not all of it well but, still, I would think there are more works of fiction our there to create. I don't think anyone mentioned poems so maybe I mean all sorts of creative writing. I may take on that more and more - and perhaps might even share it. There are, however, sorts of books suggested up there in the list that I really want to read but could never write.
I really like the idea of a proper independent book on the economics of good beer brewing. We do have The US Brewing Industry by Tremblay and Tremblay as well as The Economics Of Beer edited by J. Swinnen but these are fairly high level documents. What I would like to see is a book on the actual case studies of US craft breweries. Not interviews of the CEO after he or she has been prepped by the PR consultants but an independent review of the state of the industry based on analysis of their financials. It will never happen given that US craft, like all brewers since the dawn of time, closely control the data and would never want their actuals known. But one can dream.
After the opening of the window for a bit of fresh air, I like the theme of more books on social history and beer culture. I would lump the indigenous beers idea from Stan plus the central Euro one from Boak and Bailey.I would add the monastic brewing past of the Velky One as well as the desire of Aaron for a comprehensive book about Belgian brewing. Books like these would place so much in context. But such context is one thing that beer writing has sadly left behind too often. We are left too often to trust the brewery or the consultant - and have learned that we do so to our later regret. And, unlike fiction or even maybe economics, this is asking a lot in terms of resources. I have great sympathy for anyone taking on this sort of task given how little of the wealth created around beer and brewing flows to projects like this. Once I sought a grant from a trade association for researching a topic I later published. I was advised on the side later that the brewers who governed the account had little interest in actual history given some of them had branding based on phony history. Just like the inherent resistance to the study of the economics of brewing, the history of brewing exposes habits and patterns that today's big craft have either learned from the magnates of the past or have fallen into as a natural thing. So, who will pay for the necessary research?
This was a great exercise. There are plenty of things I would not place at the top of my list. But the pursuit of cask, whales or session beers or the histories of specific Aussie brews do not need to interest me as either a reader or writer. Really? Sure! In fact I am pretty sure I disagree entirely with Maureen's entire premise. But who cares? Each book needs to please some one and that can be someone else. Heck, I would have a generous pension assigned to Lew to rant and Ron to dig even if nothing came of it. And a third to me just to read. So what are you waiting for? Go write them. Or a bit of them. Start with an article or a series of blog posts. Start structuring it all together and one day pop it up as an eBook. Then do it again. Add to the whole. One day you may make a buck. But what if you don't? Do it anyway. Why not?