I don’t recall how Brewed Awakening came to my attention but it was put on my ‘To Read’ list and finally Mr. Bernstein’s book arrived via the wonderful Multnomah County Library’s system. I finished it just a few days ago and this seems as good an opportunity as any to share what I thought about it.
Brewed Awakening is a nice overview of the state of craft brewing in America. There are some short diversions to brewers in Canada and Mexico which I found pretty informative, but for the most part the book is centered on America’s craft brewing trends. It doesn’t go very deep into any one style, brewery or brewer, content instead to provide a lot mini-shots.
One thing I have to mention is the visual design of the book. It frequently evokes brewing notes or things written hastily at a pub, with torn notebook sheets, beer coasters and other similar paraphernalia used as the backdrop for the text, which helped set the scene for me even when I was reading on a bus. I liked that and thought it was a nice way to gussy up a book that didn’t get too deep on its subject.
Bernstein does talk to a lot of people though and even provides anywhere from five to eleven different beers to try that correspond to the subject he’s exploring. The descriptions of the beer were pretty interesting and the selection was from all over the country, so readers are likely to find something from their region. Bernstein ends up exploring not only underdeveloped styles of beer but also movements in brewing, such as the promotion of female brewers, as he talks to brewers who are looking to stand out which allows him to really highlight how creative brewers are being right now.
It gets a little too cutesy for me: I can really only stand one hop-related pun per year and his use of puns and alliteration points out how non-threatening he’s trying to make the subject. It’s a friendly style that probably works for everyone who isn’t me and I can see being very welcoming to anyone who is not very familiar with craft brewing in the US and that is who I believe he’s writing for.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t find it to be informative and worth my time: overall, I enjoyed Brewed Awakening. While I didn’t learn much about styles, I did hear about a whole lot of breweries and new beers to keep my eyes open for, which is what any craft ale devotee might find worthwhile.