Book Review: Michigan Beer – A Heady History


When beergeeks think about Michigan beer, they usually can name Bell’s and Founders.  If you know a little more beer history, you may even know about Stroh’s and Goebels.  But Michigan Beer – A Heady History by Patti F. Smith, digs deep into the early years of brewing in Michigan, recounting the efforts of brewers in almost every Michigan town to bring ales and lagers to a thirsty populace.

Smith takes the reader on a historical brewery tour of Michigan, from Detroit to Battle Creek to Grand Rapids to Bay City, and describes in detail the turbulent industry from the mid 1800s to Prohibition.  The influx of German immigration to Michigan during this time made beer a potentially lucrative business in the early days, but between being run out of town by local (and ultimately Federal) “dry” laws, or simply properties burning down, brewing was also a risky business in Michigan. 

Michigan Beer – A Heady History also visits the re-emergence of craft beer in Michigan during the 1980s all the way through to today and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Michigan’s brewing industry.  Michigan Beer – A Heady History, published by American Palate a division of Theb History Press, is a great read for anyone with a connection to Michigan and – of course – beer.  You can purchase it on Amazon in hardback, paperback, and for Kindle.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2022 – all rights reserved

Top of the Hops Homebrew Competition at Imprint Brewing

Today we’re competing in the “Top of the Hops” Homebrew Competition at Imprint Brewing Competition.  https://imprintbeer.com/top-of-the-hops.   It’s sponsored by Keystone Homebrew Supply (my supply store of choice) and benefits Knights of Life, a local North Penn charity.

We’ll be serving two versions of one beer today.

First, our “Molly’s Wake”, a 4% ABV classic, easy drinking Irish-style Dry Stout (BJCP 15B) in remembrance of our grumpy cat Molly who lived to the ripe old age of 19.  Good for any occasion – even a cat’s wake!  Sláinte!  

Second, we used some black magic to resurrect Molly for “Molly’s Back!” 4% ABV (BJCP 30B), our classic, easy drinking Irish-style Dry Stout dressed up for Halloween! Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and vanilla beans were enough to bring Molly back for just one more!  Trick or treat!

Hope to see you out here – make sure you stop by and say HI!


update: while we weren’t one of the top 8 finalists, we received a lot of positive feedback (especially for Molly’s Back), got to hang with a lot of great local homebrewers (Tom Ryan Brewing, Sipnotic Brewing, Hop Tank Brews, and Bills Damn Beer to name a few), and had tons of fun supporting Knights for Life!

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2022 – all rights reserved 

Book Review: Oklahoma Beer – A Handcrafted History

Oklahoma Beer – A Handcrafted History

When craft beer fans talk about beer tourism, Oklahoma doesn’t usually come up in the conversation.  And that’s no insult to Oklahoma – that’s just the result of Prohibition-era laws that were still on Oklahoma’s books until 2016.  Oklahoma had a late start in the craft beer movement and Oklahoma Beer – A Handcrafted History by Brian Welzbacher, published by American Palate, is a fascinating read because of its focus on the modern brewing history of Oklahoma.

The first fifty pages of Oklahoma Beer covers from 1850 all the way to 1992; the remaining 100 pages outline in detail the struggles of homebrewers and craft brewers who attempted to achieve  success within the outdated “3.2 beer” and “No tours/tasting rooms” laws of Oklahoma through 2019.  Within Welzbacher’s book, the reader finds OK brewers’ stories of success, failure, innovation, frustration, and ultimately celebration in 2016.  While Oklahoma Beer is technically a history book, the experiences of these brewers documented here should be viewed as a “how to (or not)” guide for anyone looking to enter the craft beer market anywhere.

I throughly enjoyed Oklahoma Beer because when I first picked it up I had no idea about the history of brewing in Oklahoma, or the lack thereof. My initial disappointment that there was not a 150 year historical record however was quickly replaced with admiration for the modern Oklahoma brewer.  I highly recommend Oklahoma Beer for brewers who hope to open a professional operation some day in any market – and I have now added Oklahoma City to the top 5 of my “must visit” beer cities.

Oklahoma Beer is available on Amazon in paperback for $21.99 and on Kindle.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2022 – all rights reserved

Book Review – North Carolina Triad Beer: A History

The story of brewing in North Carolina’s Triad region is a microcosm of our national brewing story – from community brewing to the rise of prohibition, the rise of big beer, the rise of craft brew, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the current brewing culture.  North Carolina Triad Beer: A History, written by Richard Cox, David Gwen, and Erin Lara, is another fine addition to American Pallet Publishing’s series of U.S. brewing history.

For those who are not familiar with North Carolina’s geography, the Piedmont Triad region is a roughly triangle-shaped area made by connecting the cities of Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point.  North Carolina Triad Beer follows the story of brewing in this region, beginning in the early 1700s with the Moravians and their settlement of Bethabara all the way through to the current day, including the struggles of craft brewers in the COVID-19 era.

As in many states during and after Prohibition, North Carolina and the Triad region struggled to find balance in the laws regulating the manufacture and sale of alcohol.  North Carolina Triad Beer documents the early political efforts between teetotalers and brewers that resulted in a law that prohibited the manufacture or sale of beer that was higher than 6%; and the recent efforts of craft brewers to generate enough support for the brewing industry to change the law in 2008.  

North Carolina Triad Beer is a case study on the use of lobbying and the political system as it relates to the expansion of modern alcohol laws.  Of course, it should also provide the reader with an understanding and appreciation of where craft beer has come – and where it may go – in North Carolina.  Speaking of “going” – North Carolina Triad Beer includes a list of current breweries in the Triad region, so after you read the book and gain a desire for a Red Oak Amber Lager, you’ll have a handy guide to get you there!

North Carolina Triad Beer: A History, was published in 2021 by American Palate, a Division of History Press.  It is available on Amazon in paperback, hardback and Kindle.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2022 – all rights reserved

Book Review – Wild Brews

Wild Brews by Jaega Wise nestled within homegrown Columbus hops.

As a homebrewer, I’m always looking for something new and exciting to brew.  But suggest to me that I should try a Brett beer or a sour?  No way!  I’ve heard too many times that those delicious but risky bugs could cause a real problem with my equipment and other beers!  But no longer – Jaega Wise’s book, Wild Brews, provides tips and tricks on homebrewing using wild fermentation techniques that even I would feel comfortable trying!

Wise is the head brewer at East London’s Wild Card Brewery, a qualified chemical engineer, a beer sommelier, a TV presenter, and one of the U.K.’s experts in wild fermentation.  In Wild Brews, Wise provides a summary of the brewing process, a high level review of each of the four ingredients of beer, and discusses the “wild” styles of beer – Farmhouse Ale, Saison, IPA, Gose, Berliner Weisse, Flanders Red, Oud Bruin, Lambic, Old Ale, and Gueuze; all written with a fantastic balance between homebrewer and chemical engineer.  Even if you’ve been homebrewing for a few years, her take on the process is a great refresher.

Brewing with Lactobacillus or Brettanomyces can seem to be a complex and daunting task for the average homebrewer, but Wise’s recipes for each of the wild styles are included in the book and all provide her expert guidance that can help homebrewers overcome their hesitation to give wild brewing a try.  For example, when brewing a Flanders Red, if you don’t feel like the beer has enough acetic acid flavor, Wise suggests, “blend in a small quantity of malt vinegar prior to packaging.” It can be that simple.  But what happens if your beer doesn’t turn out just right? Wild Brews also includes a chapter called “When Things Go Wrong” that helps you troubleshoot off flavors and hopefully fix the beer.

Overall, Wild Brews is a great read for both new and experienced homebrewers who want to give wild brewing a try.  The hardcover book includes beautifully shot photos, including several close-ups of foamy fermentation in action and clean graphic illustrations.  I would recommend adding Wild Brews to any homebrewer’s library.  

Wild Brews is published by Kyle Books (kylebooks.com) and will be available June 28, 2022.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2022 – all rights reserved.

About The Brewholder Brews – for the BreweriesinPA Homebrew Invitational

I am Matt Brasch, the brewer behind The Brewholder Brews. I’ve been homebrewing since 2013, and even with my first batch (an Imperial IPA), I was more interested in experimenting with flavors and recipes than trying to make the perfect clone. More “mad” than “scientist,” I have relied on my extensive network of professional and home brewers for tips and tricks along my homebrewing journey. During the pandemic, I expanded my brewing process from 5 gallon to 10 gallon batches and focused in on the American Cream Ale style – enhancing it with fresh fruit (locally harvested blueberries & peaches, limes, jalapeños, cranberries, orange) and of course, coffee!

I grow my own hops (Cascade, Chinook, Columbus) at my home in Upper Dublin Township, PA, and brew a harvest ale with them every September – “from bine to boil” in 24 hours. Recently, my hops crops have yielded enough for me to brew another batch in the Spring with the hops that I vacuum pack and freeze in the Fall.

I am a published beer journalist – if you’ve been around for a while, you may have seen my articles in the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, PhillyBeerScene Magazine, and Ticket to Entertainment between 2013 – 2017. But now I spend more time reading beer-related books and posting reviews in “The Brewholder’s Library” on my website, thebrewholder.com.

“The Brewholder” concept was created to express my belief that the beauty of beer is subjective. I think that if a beer tastes great but it doesn’t meet a specific style guideline (think of Kveik a few years ago…), it doesn’t mean that it is undrinkable. In fact, it could lead to something new and amazing! That’s what The Brewholder truly stands for – if you like it, then drink it! Truly – whoever is holding a beer is the Brewholder…and beauty is in the eye of the Brewholder.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2022 – all rights reserved

Product Review – Capski Bottle Opener

As if a Shower Beer Holder wasn’t awesome enough, Capski has now released a Bottle Opener.  Using the same material that keeps a can of beer upright in your shower, the Capski Bottle Opener is a solid answer to the age old question, “Where did I put that bottle opener?!”

Listen – I’m not going to list all the places you could install this bottle opener: on your beer fridge, work bench, tool box, etc…but what I will tell you is that it works shockingly well.  All you need is a smooth, shiny surface and you will never lose your bottle opener again…or drill holes to attach a conventional wall mounted bottle opener.

Believe me – when I installed the Capski Bottle Opener to my refrigerator and opened my first bottle from it, I half expected the whole thing to fall to the floor.  But it performed as advertised – the opener mechanism is sturdy and the silicone grip did not shift, even after a month of bottles being opened on it.

The Capski Bottle Opener is well worth the   $16 – available here

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2020 – all rights reserved

Book Review – The Beer Diet: How to Drink Beer and Not Gain Weight

Craft beer fans – how many pounds and inches do you think you’ve added due to your passion for brew?  Wouldn’t it be great if you could continue to drink beer and not gain weight?  Wow!  When I cracked open Gary Greenberg’s “The Beer Diet: How to Drink Beer and Not again Weight” I was very excited to find the answer!  

Are the answers all here?  Of course not – each beer drinker is an individual with a myriad of unique health conditions; a boilerplate approach would not work for everyone.  But the information Greenberg provides is definitely food for thought – exercise, eating habits, mental health, and your approach to the intake of your favorite malt beverage all can work together to decrease its negative health effects.

The Beer Diet is an easy read and encourages us craft beer fanatics to really think about our choices – so that we can hopefully continue to enjoy beer for a long time to come!  The Beer Diet is available on Amazon in Kindle format, and paperback will be released soon.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2020 – all rights reserved 

Brewers Publications new release – Quality Labs for Small Brewers: Building A Foundation for Great Beer

Brewers Publications, the leading publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers, homebrewers, and beer enthusiasts, will be releasing “Quality Labs for Small Brewers: Building A Foundation for Great Beer” on August 3, 2020.  Written by Merritt Waldron, author and Quality Director at Baxter Brewing Co. in Lewiston, Maine, this is a how-to guide for establishing a brewery’s quality program.  I’m looking forward to digging into it and posting my review in the Brewholder’s Library!

Here is the full press release:

Brewers Publications Presents: Quality Labs for Small Brewers: Building a Foundation for Great Beer

A how-to guide for establishing a brewery’s quality program

Boulder, Colo. • July 14, 2020 — Quality Labs for Small Brewers: Building a Foundation for Great Beer, the latest release from Brewers Publications®, emphasizes the importance of establishing a quality program for every brewery, no matter the size. Merritt Waldron, author and Quality Director at Baxter Brewing Co. in Lewiston, Maine, walks readers through a step-by-step process on how to execute a quality program at any brewery.

As many breweries across the country reopen following restrictions due to the global health pandemic, implementing policies, procedures, and specifications to directly influence the consistent production of safe, quality beer is more relevant than ever.

“Quality beer is essential to the success of any great brewery. This book ensures that only quality beer reaches the consumer, time after time,” said Waldron. “With the programs outlined in this book, breweries at any scale will be able to dive beyond the numbers and help pinpoint any risks or areas of improvement in their beer.”

Quality Labs for Small Brewers: Building a Foundation for Great Beer

Author: Merritt Waldron
ISBN: 9781938469633
EISBN: 9781938469640
Size: 8.5 x 11 inches, 296 pp
Format: Paperback
Cover Price: $95
Publication Date: August 3, 2020
Member Pre-sale July 14 – July 21, 2020: Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association members receive a 30% discount.

With more than 60 titles to choose from, Brewers Publications is the leading publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers, homebrewers, and beer enthusiasts. Brewers Publications supports the mission of the Brewers Association by publishing books of enduring value for amateur and professional brewers, as well as titles that promote understanding and appreciation of American craft beer.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2020 – all rights reserved