Session #95: Beer Books Yet to Be Written

Brewery in Passau at sunset.

Once a month, under the lead­er­ship of Jay Brooks and Stan Hierony­mus, beer blog­gers world­wide write posts on the same top­ic cho­sen by one of their peers. This month, Alan ‘A Good Beer Blog’ McLeod is host­ing and has asked us to con­sid­er: ‘What beer book which has yet to be writ­ten would you like to see pub­lished?’

We want books about beer to take us to places we haven’t been, and times out of reach.

We want them to intro­duce us to inter­est­ing and influ­en­tial peo­ple and get beneath the sur­face while they’re at it.

We want them to explain how things came to be; to tell us things we don’t already know; and/or give us a trust­ed place to go when ques­tions arise.

There are a cou­ple of books that we’re hop­ing to write, so we won’t tell you about those, but here’s one we want to read that, as far as we know, doesn’t exist. (If we’re wrong, please let us know.)

Europe Legless, an imaginary book.

We don’t know what exact­ly Europe Leg­less: beer on the Con­ti­nent 1945–2015 would cov­er – that’s why we need some­one to write it – but, for exam­ple, we’d like to know what hap­pened to the Ger­man beer indus­try when the coun­try was par­ti­tioned in 1945. We’d like to know more about the great Ger­man, Dutch, Bel­gian and Scan­di­na­vian brew­ing dynas­ties – those aris­to­crat­ic types you see wear­ing Alpine jack­ets or sash­es and medals in por­traits. How did the brew­ers of Cologne go about rein­vent­ing Kölsch and shoring it up as a pro­tect­ed local beer style in the 1960s? And why weren’t oth­er spe­cial­i­ty beer styles so lucky? What’s going on with ‘craft beer’ now, and is it a threat or an oppor­tu­ni­ty?

We’re not after tast­ing notes but words and a nar­ra­tive, with ref­er­ence to care­ful­ly sourced evi­dence. We can find bits and pieces of this infor­ma­tion all over the web on var­i­ous blogs and Wikipedia, but we need it tied togeth­er, in a sin­gle vol­ume, that we can read on the bus.

Maybe there’s too much for just one book – Ger­many prob­a­bly deserves a book of its own – or per­haps it’s just rude to lump these great brew­ing nations togeth­er as if they were a homo­ge­neous blob. Per­haps the time frame is wrong – it could just as well start in the 1830s with the emer­gence of lager beer as we know it. But work­ing out the bound­aries and shape of the sto­ry is a job for the author or edi­tor – we just want to read the thing.

Who should write it? Some­one who speaks a cou­ple of lan­guages and knows their way around an archive; who is rig­or­ous and intel­li­gent, with­out being dry. (We val­ue aca­d­e­m­ic writ­ing but often strug­gle to read it in large dos­es.) Evan Rail springs to mind, or maybe Tim Webb. Cer­tain­ly Ron Pat­tin­son ought to be on the team some­where. And we’d feel it was in safe hands if Joe Stange was giv­en the job.

We’re excit­ed about this now – when we can we order a copy?

Think­ing up titles is hard work so the one we’ve sug­gest­ed, just to be clear, isn’t an entire­ly seri­ous sug­ges­tion. The 3D book cov­er tem­plate came from here.

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