The Session #115: The Role of Beer Books

The SessionFor this September edition of The Session, Joan Villar-i-Martí of Blog Birraire asks us to consider The Role of Beer Books:

The discussion at hand is “The Role of Beer Books“. Participants can talk about that first book that caught their attention, which brought them to get interested in beer; or maybe about books that helped developing their local beer scene. There’s also the -bad- role of books that regrettably misinform readers because their authors did not do their work properly. There are many different ways to tackle this topic.

The Session has been about books before just once, and it was about those that hadn’t already been written. I believe that their importance for the beer culture makes books worthy for another Session.

My first books on beer all dealt with homebrewing, as I suspect is the case for many. The very first (aside from the pamphlet-style brewing instructions you got with your kit at the homebrew store) was Charlie Papazian’s The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing, which I even still have!

The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing

(It’s the 1991 edition; of course there is an up to date edition but I don’t have that one. This one has an introduction by Michael Jackson (does the new one?).)

Yes, Papazian got things wrong, as many of the beer cognoscenti like to point out, but he got a lot right and more importantly: that book was a huge influence for me as I learned about beer and brewing, and set me on that path. I think it’s sometimes easy to forget, in an age now where there are so many books about beer (Amazon lists 2,271 in their “Beer” category and 1,135 in their “Homebrewing, Distilling & Wine Making” category though of course there is crossover), that amount of influence Papazian’s books had to the field as a whole.

My next book was his The Home Brewer’s Companion (now also in a newer edition), and then other books on homebrewing, including ones from Dave Miller, Stephen Snyder, and others. From there I branched out into styles, many of which also contained history, guidebooks, picked up some used copies of Michael Jackson’s books, then more history, and so on.

And naturally I have to mention my own book, Bend Beer, which covers the history of Central Oregon beer where I live (up through 2014 or so).

Of course I’m rather bookish, and a number of the beer books I own I haven’t actually read (yet). And I will point out that I’m really not terribly interested in more books on homebrewing. Probably because I’ve been doing this for as long as I have and I already have quite a few—some are very, very good—that unless there is an unusual angle that hasn’t been covered, it’s bores me to see the same material over and over again.

That’s my personal take on the role of beer books. Looking forward to reading others!

Received: Angry Orchard Easy Apple Cider

This must be the year of cider, particularly as I seem to be on the cider PR list these days. These came yesterday from Angry Orchard:

Received: Angry Orchard Easy Apple Cider

Two bottles of their new Easy Apple cider, a “less sweet, easy-drinking cider” that’s sessionable at 4.2% abv. And “apple forward.” I will report on it as we go.

Deschutes Hopzeit Autumn IPA: Review and event

Deschutes Brewery Hopzeit Autumn IPAToday here in Bend, Deschutes Brewery is hosting their “Hopzeit Autumn IPA Celebration” (release party) at their Bend Pub, where they are pouring free samples of their new fall seasonal all day long. Full pints are available too, of course.

Deschutes had recently sent me bottles of Hopzeit, so in conjunction with their release event today I have my review and comments.

Here are the details and specs for Hopzeit Autumn IPA:

This modern ale inspired by the time-honored flavors of a Märzenbier combines classic malts with the latest hop varietals from Germany to deliver an herbal and balanced Autumn IPA that’s as at home in your backyard as the biergarten.

Malts are Munich, Vienna, and pilsner; hops are Herkules, Sterling, and Hull Melon. It is 7% alcohol by volume, with 60 IBUs.

I have to say, thank you to Deschutes for finally offering up a packaged fall seasonal beer, bridging the gap between summer (formerly Twilight Ale, now Hop Slice) and winter (Jubelale) — it was fairly off-putting to receive bottles of Jubelale in August!

And in general, I like the idea of an Oktoberfest-styled IPA (even if the whole “everything as IPA!!!” shtick is getting played out), and I think this one largely succeeds. Amusingly, and a little oddly, they are including the hashtag #SayNoToPumpkinBeer in their marketing and promoting Hopzeit as “100% gourd-free”; I wasn’t aware they were under such pressure to produce a pumpkin beer or that such an anti-pumpkin stance was warranted. That’s fine, but I don’t know that inventing a new style (Märzen IPA?) is the answer either; I’d have been super happy with a solid, traditional Oktoberfest. (And it struck me as I was drinking these that instead of a new style, it rather seems as if Deschutes has simply re-created Altbier. Or maybe a Sticke Alt.)

Appearance: Crystal clear, deep amber-copper in color, with a generous light tan head that reminds me of wood putty. Color is akin to a shiny new penny.

Smell: Tangy, fruity hop aromas — not citrusy or tropical, as much as like honeydew melon, lemongrass, and squash. (Gourd-free indeed?) There’s a lemony-herbal spiciness that’s reminiscent of tea. Clean, slightly rye-like spicy maltiness.

Taste: Big punch of bitterness up front, woody and minty and herbal. Following that is a grassy-grainy malt body that’s warm and toasty, very much in the Oktoberfest style. A touch sweet at the back, drier than caramel — Munich. Hops have a minty-fruity character going on that’s hard for me to quantify — these newer German varieties I’m simply unfamiliar with. Sweet blossoms? As it warms a spicy-bready character becomes evident, not unlike a rye or pumpernickel bread.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, crisp, smooth. Drier finish, with an almost minty aftertaste/feel.

Overall: This is good, and an interesting take on blending the two influencing styles. Not revolutionary but a well-hopped, malty, lager-like take on an IPA. (Hoppy red?)

Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer

Received: Hoptopia (book)

Just in time for hop harvest season, this new book arrived this week:

Received: Hoptopia

Hoptopia: A World of Agriculture and Beer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, by Peter Kopp. I’m excited to read this one, not least of which because it’s about Oregon’s beer-related history. Oh, and I happened to write a book about the local history of beer myself. This one looks well-researched and definitely worth the read. I’ll write a full review once I’ve dug into it.