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100 pages outline in detail the struggles of homebrewers and craft brewers who attempted to achieve  success within the outdated “3.2 beer” and “No tours/tasting rooms” laws of Oklahoma through 2019.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

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

Book Review: Growing Your Own Cocktails, Mocktails, Teas & Infusions

From garden to glass!

Now that Mother’s Day has come and gone, the gardening season is in full swing. If you have a traditional kitchen garden like me, you are waiting with anticipation…wondering if your tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and a handful of herbs will be successful enough to make a salad and some garnish later this Summer. But other than salad, what else could you grow to make your days tastier?  Jodi Helmer’s “Growing Your Own Cocktails, Mocktails, Teas & Infusions” answers just that question.

While not an expansive reference book, the five chapters of “Growing Your Own” provide a solid foundation for the development of a beverage that you can grow from scratch.  Helmer opens with a  “brief history of your favorite drinks” and then launches into a lengthy chapter on plants that can help make a cocktail special, describing “leaves”, “flowers”, “fruits and vegetables”, and “roots.”  What is especially helpful is that Helmer provides the suggested growing zone for each variety (and the growing zone map for North America) so that you don’t accidentally choose a tropical plant that couldn’t survive your garden in Pennsylvania!

Helmer continues by providing tips for every aspect of bringing your garden into your glass (and your mouth!).  From garden planning to harvesting to proper glassware, everything you need to make your first artisanal beverage can be found in these chapters – including recipes for simple syrups enhanced with herbs, cocktails, and non-alcoholic drinks.

Making a simple syrup with mint

To put Helmer to the test, I harvested fresh spearmint from my garden and made a simple mint syrup, following the instructions on page 125.  With the mint syrup in hand, I gathered the ingredients for the Mojito recipe on page 133.  It was a delicious, summer cocktail, to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend and the informal beginning of summer. I would definitely consider this “experiment” a success; the libation was tasty, especially because I knew that the mint had been growing outside my back door only a short time ago.

Artisanal Mojito!

Overall, “Growing Your Own Cocktails, Mocktails, Teas & Infusions” is a solid introductory book for home gardeners and bartenders alike.  With the word “Cocktails” in the forefront of the title, I expected to see more recipes, but as I noted above, the recipe for the Mojito was excellent, so I’ll take quality over quantity in this case.  And one note – the chapter on cocktails was written by Jeanette Hurt, author of “Drink Like A Woman,” so check that book out if it is more recipes you need! In addition to Helmer’s gardening expertise, the photography in the book is bright and enticing; it motivates the reader to plant that garden and get ready to enjoy a homegrown cocktail some evening later this summer!

“Growing Your Own Cocktails, Mocktails, Teas & Infusions“ was published in April 2020 by Fox Chapel Publishing.  It is available on Amazon and retails for $18.99.  

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2020 – all rights reserved

A Vacation at Home with the Shower Beer Holder

For many people, an important tradition for Memorial Day Weekend and summer vacation is having a beer in an outdoor shower.  Whether coming back to a beach house after a day in the sun and sand, or returning to a cabin after boating on a crystal lake, a crisp, cold beer in an outdoor shower is one of the most relaxing events of your time off.  So what if you could have that feeling all year round, from the privacy of your indoor shower at home?

Recently I was asked to review the Sudski Shower Beer Holder by 30Watt.  Does it seem simple? Yes.  Is it something that you must have?  No.  But in this time of quarantine and questionable vacation plans, is it a nice reminder of better times (in the past and to come)? Undoubtably YES.

The Shower Beer Holder is made of “space age” materials and sticks to shiny surfaces.  Luckily I have a glass door and wall, so my Shower Beer Holder stuck just fine there.  It can hold both 12 oz and 16 oz cans (in case you want to enjoy a hazy NE IPA pounder in the shower).  I chose a 16 oz. Hip Czech Lager by Victory Brewing Company for my test, and it held up perfectly!

One note – you need to install the Shower Beer Holder 24 hours before you use it, and make sure you remove any air bubbles…or else your beer will fall and pour down the drain.  Once you’ve taken care of those 2 steps, all you need is hot water, maybe some good tunes, and the vision of your favorite outdoor shower – and it’s a vacation at home!

The Shower Beer Holder is available online at various locations – on Amazon it sells for $24.47.  I thoroughly enjoyed testing this product and am considering purchasing the companion product, the Shower Wine Holder soon!  

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2020 – all rights reserved

Book Review – “How To Drink”: A Lesson For the Ages

“How To Drink – A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing” is a modern translation of a social commentary written by Vincent Obsopoeus in 1536.  Alarmed by the rise of binge drinking, peer pressure and competitive drinking in sixteenth-century Germany, Obsopoeus (pronounced “Jobs? So pay us!”) argues that “moderation, not abstinence is the key to lasting sobriety, and that drinking can be a virtue if it is done with rules and limits” in a text inspired by the Roman poet Ovid’s “Art of Love.” 

This version of “How to Drink” was translated and edited by Cornell University Professor of Classics Michael Fontaine.  In the book’s introduction, Fontaine defines the meaning of critical words found in the book (“Bacchus,” “Flanerian,” and the names of drinking vessels used in 1536), and also provides context around who Obsopoeus was and the wine soaked world in which he lived.

Based on the foregoing description, you might assume that “How to Drink” is a judgy, academic text best placed on the reference shelf for another time.  But make no mistake – when you read Fontaine’s translation you will realize that when it comes to drinking, there is a striking similarity between America’s “drinking bro culture” and the society described by Obsopoeus almost 500 years ago. For example, I was surprised and amused by  Obsopoeus’s inflammatory descriptions of people you shouldn’t drink with – Buzzkills, Belligerents, Blowhards, Gossips, to name a few – and realized his words are just as applicable today as they were in sixteenth-century Germany. 

I found this book fascinating because Obsopoeus discusses social situations that he observed (and participated) in the 1500s – but his descriptions could be that of parties I’ve attended in the past 20 years!  I also enjoyed reading How to Drink because it stands for a simple concept proposed by the Craft Beer industry in their battle against macrobrew: beer should be enjoyed by all and in moderation (with occasional slip-ups forgiven) – not “pounded”, “shotgunned,” or “funneled” in excess to prove masculinity.

While I throughly enjoyed “How to Drink,” don’t worry if you don’t – Obsopoeus anticipated that some may disagree with his thoughts and provided his critics with this message:  “May the Bacchus (wine) you drink with that stupid, obscene mouth of yours prove joyless and unfun, you bastard!”  Man, I would’ve loved to chat with Obsopoeus over a few beers!

I recommend “How to Drink” for anyone who enjoys history, the social aspects of alcohol, and the fact that some things never seem to change through the ages!  “How to Drink” will be available from Princeton University Press on April 14, 2020 for $16.95 – order your copy here.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2020 – all rights reserved