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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
When I decided to buy "The Great American Ale Trail," it had seven glowing five-star reviews that influenced my decision, but the "Look Inside" feature was not active at the time. Had it been, I probably would have decided against buying it.

I realize that any book purporting to be a "Craft Beer Lover's Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation" can't possibly include ALL brewpubs, microbreweries and fine beer bars, and that's okay. This doesn't affect my rating of the book, since it is totally a matter of personal opinion and probably limited space. Still, some parts of the country are very underrepresented. For example, there's no mention of The Sharp Edge, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which reportedly has the best selection of Belgians in the country. In fact, there's no mention of ANY establishments in western Pennsylvania, such as Fat Heads (try the Hop Juju), Full Pint or Rivertowne. All of the Pennsylvania places that Mr. DeBenedetti covers are near Philadelphia. Also omitted, for instance, are the North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, California (Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, anyone?) and The Hoppy Monk, with 65 taps, in El Paso, Texas. Six of the seven places in Texas are in Austin and one is in Fort Worth. Is there really nothing in Dallas, Houston or San Antonio? Southern New Mexico gets short shrift as well. All five of the establishments mentioned are in Albuquerque or Santa Fe, with no coverage of the well-regarded High Desert Brewing Company in Las Cruces that has been crafting award-winning beers for many years.

Again, I'm sorry to see such omissions, but that doesn't affect my rating of "The Great American Ale Trail." Two other factors, however, DO affect my opinion of the book. First, it has no maps in it, which, at least for me, reduces its value considerably. I'd like to be able to look at a state or regional map with the establishments marked on it (such as those in the Sterns' "Roadfood") and be able to say, "Well, here are a few places near where I'll be traveling--I think I'll check them out." I can't do that if there are no maps. The other problem is that, with some exceptions, Mr. DeBenedetti mentions only one beer per establishment. Here's an example--the beer he profiles for Stone Brewing Company is the 4.4% ABV Levitation Ale. Fans of extreme beers (of which Stone is a leading producer) will immediately realize how little Levitation actually represents the full Stone beer lineup. I think it would have been much more useful for Mr. DeBenedetti to provide a list of beers normally available at each establishment. Such lists certainly would be subject to change, but at least the reader could get a quick feel for the range of styles offered.

So I guess my bottom line is that I find "The Great American Ale Trail" to be a lot less useful than I hoped it would be. While it does identify many places for a beer enthusiast to try, I think most travelers will have to rely heavily on other sources to plan a beer quest. The book's poor usability and lack of information on the specific range of beers offered at each place mean that it will probably just gather dust on one of my bookshelves while I go on-line to plan future trips.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2011
"The Great American Ale Trail" is an excellent addition to my can't-hit-the-road-without-this travel book collection. This book is so much more than a listing of beeratoriums across the country. Your time will be well spent as you immerse yourself in local color, anecdotes, history, and amazingly well-detailed descriptions of craft beers that will make you thirst for the beers themselves and also will give you the knowledge and confidence to venture into new places on the map and try the local brews. The Ale Trail is a travelogue that sets the bar a notch higher for informative food guides. Not only will you learn more about the craft beers in your own vicinity, you'll find yourself looking up cities where you have friends, reading them excerpts from the book, and encouraging them to go out and explore the craft beers in their home towns. A must for any foodie's library.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2012
The Ale Trail makes me want to quit my job, visit all the places. Its a Napa wine tour of beers, but much more fun, not wine stuffy. ALready led me to a few great craft breweries I never knew existed, excited that it talks about so many more. Great, great fun book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2012
I bought this book and had it signed while at the GABF this past year in Denver. I ended up reading the majority of the states close to me while on the flight back to Boise. Some area's are less covered then others but for the most part there is a good sampling of beer locations covered. Not only is it breweries but also tap houses ect. Really easy to read and easy to jump around in. Page 20 doesn't have to come after page 10.

Thanks for the book.....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2011
The Great American Ale Trail claims to be the "Craft Beer Lovers Guide to the best Watering Holes in the Nation" and is a worthy effort. I live in the UK and have visited quite a few of the pubs & bars in this book particularly in Oregon and California, other parts of the U.S i've never visited, some places i'll probably never visit but i found the book a great read, very informative and a volume that i'll probably carry with me on my next trip to the USA.

The authors research must have been very hard work! All states are visited though beer centers like California and Oregon get more coverage than say Ohio or Nebraska (1 page each). It's the authors personal choice of bars and pubs so you may or may not agree with his choice but as the author states in his introduction the book is intended as a starting point for your beer exploration. The book has 360+ pages good use of spot colour and the format is easy to read, the guide is plit into regions, i.e the Pacific North West, the Midwest,etc and by State and town or city.

The book makes a good companion piece to Lisa Morrison's Craft Beers of the Pacific North West and i'd recommend both books to beer drinkers everywhere, just have a good beer while you read!

Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest: A Beer Lover's Guide to Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia

The Great American Ale Trail: The Craft Beer Lover's Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2011
A great read and a great guide to the best watering holes in the country. Definitely a must-have for the next time I'm on tour. Well done, Christian!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2011
"...people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things." ~Leonardo da Vinci. Christian did just that and he takes us along with him to places we might not have discovered otherwise. Not just an in-depth craft beer guide, he added fun local facts and as he describes the food he pairs with his beer, you'll find yourself wanting to jump in your car and start or add to your own craft beer experience. This book ...is complete, creative and very, very entertaining. Encore, please.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2013
I'm a graphic designer, and to be honest, half of the reason I bought this book was because when I did the 'look inside' feature, the page layouts were designed amazingly... the other half was in hopes that the actual content would be good, which... it was! It's a really trendy and great book for anyone who likes to visit breweries when traveling. And even if you don't get to travel that much, it gives you some insight into good breweries around the country
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2011
The Great American Ale Trail will make you want to hit the road right now - with a designated driver, of course - and quaff some craft beer. It's not just a handy travel guide; it's also a primer on the burgeoning craft beer industry and the brews themselves. It'll leave you educated /and/ a little inebriated. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2011
Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over ten years now, I figured I pretty much knew all there was to know about the beer scene here. Was pleasantly surprised to find out how much more is actually going on. Especially liked the section on Brian Hunt and the Moonlight Brewery. Thanks, Christian!
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