We Make Beer: Inside the Spirit and Artistry of America's Craft Brewers
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An eye-opening journey into craft beer–making in America, and what you can find in the quest to brew the perfect pint
Sean Lewis was living in Boston when he first set foot inside the Blue Hills Brewery. He was writing for BeerAdvocate magazine about America's craft brewers, and the then-fledgling Blue Hills was his first assignment. Lewis was immediately struck by the spirit of the brewers he met there. That visit would lead him first to an intensive study of beer-brewing, and later to a nation-spanning journey into the heart―and the art―of American beer making.
What Lewis found along the way was a group of like-minded craftsmen―creators who weren't afraid to speak their minds, who saw their competitors as cherished friends. A group who takes sheer joy in their work, and who seeks the same kind of balance in their lives as they do in the barrels they brew. He shared pints with pioneering upstarts like Paul and Kim Kavulak of Nebraska Brewing Company, and talked shop with craft beer stalwarts like Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada and bombastic innovators like Greg Koch (the "Arrogant Bastard" behind Stone Brewing Co.). He found, in them and others, a community that put its soul into its work, who sees beer-making as an extension of themselves.
We Make Beer is not just a celebration of American brewing, but of the spirit that binds brewers together. It's about what you can discover in yourself when you put your hands and your heart into crafting the perfect pint.
come to life, with its forklifts and workers buzzing around tending to the everyday tasks of a busy brewery. Matt conceded. “In that case, maybe we should do it. What do you think, Mitch?” “We brought in some molasses in case we want to do it, so I say we go for it.” “Okay.” It hadn’t taken much to persuade Matt that adding the adjuncts was the right thing to do. Clearly, there was respect for one another’s knowledge and talents in this arena. And it wasn’t as though the adjuncts were being
many times sharing bottles of their own home brew or something unique from their region of the country. They often drive the popular discourse about the new wave of American brewers, and they are at the forefront of consumer trends. But there is a dark side as well. Some beer geeks forget that they are not the only beer drinkers in the community. Their disdain for things that they deem unsuitable for their sophisticated tastes pushes them over the brink into the realm of beer snobbery. Perhaps
want. What you want is balance, but what you’re lucky to get is everybody comes out okay.” In his pursuit of beer making, Jim was not only considering a way to support his own family. He was also preserving his family lineage of brewmasters. Perhaps the issues that Jim faces might be different had he taken a different approach. By now, Sam Adams feels like a brand that was destined to be big because Jim had big ambitions for it. But what if he had more modest aims of simply making good beer and
What mattered was that Paul, in representing his brewery, was willingly putting himself in those discussions—mentioning his own brewery in the same breath as beer geek meccas such as Dogfish Head and luminaries like Rue and Calagione. When conflict arose, he didn’t shrink away or shrug it off; he charged toward it and put himself in the center of discussion—daring anyone else to come back at him. It was aggressive. * * * It turned out that aggression was something of a recurring theme for
at the myriad clubs and bars of Santa Barbara’s party district. Following Eric’s departure, there were a parade of brewers, some of whom were good—and others who weren’t. About the same time the owners started focusing on profitability over quality. Like the beer drinkers who became disenchanted by the “microbrews” of the ’90s that had delightful and quirky labels but mediocre beer, Santa Barbarans abandoned Brewco—leaving only the memory of good times. Fortunately, the brewpub survived the