A few months ago, I read Charlie Papazian’s Microbrewed Adventures–a mostly fun little book half about microbreweries in the US and half about Papazian’s travels around the world to microbreweries. The premise/outline of the book is exactly what the title indicates: Papazian’s experiences with microbreweries American and international.
The first section of the book is devoted to fairly brief personal accounts of most of the major American microbreweries. Papazian talks about brewers that he’s personally met, mostly, and usually focuses on the flagship beers of those breweries. So all the big names make appearances: Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Boston Beer Co., Dogfish Head, Stone Brewery, even Coors (that’s right, Coors). These small chapters are usually fun to read and are brief, which works in their favor. Also, Papazian’s provides a recipe (they appear in the second half of the book) for either a clone or approximation of a relevant beer from each of the breweries. And each recipe is given in all-grain and extract forms. What a guy.
The second section of the book follows Papazian around the world to various microbreweries in countries that you’d expect and many that you wouldn’t. There’s a pretty interesting chapter devoted to mead and a particular mead expert in England, who if I remember right was a monk, or at least a priest, (the expert, not England). I have to be honest and say that I found myself skipping parts of this section. Travel books, even those that focus on beer and are written by Papazian, are not what I necessarily think of as a good time. they seem analogous to pictures of someone else’s vacation, which I think we all’d agree how much fun that is not.
But there are some bright points in the section. Particularly, the account of an Italian microbrewery that has special headphones fitted to the fermentation tanks playing opera and Indian sitar music (for an Italian India Pale Ale) is fun to find out about. And it’s not all tedious. The homemade Fiji equivalent of beer is the other part that I remember. So two out of how many?
The book is, I think, worth it if for nothing else the recipes and the US microbrewery chapters. I don’t think that my attributed tediousness to the international sections can itself be attributed to any veiled xenophobia–I’m just not nuts about reading about someone else’s fun times in fun places. Call it something I drank.