- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Chicago Review Press; 44143rd edition (May 1, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1613743882
- ISBN-13: 978-1613743881
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 53 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Audacity of Hops: The History of America's Craft Beer Revolution Paperback – May 1, 2013
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Beer making began with many small-scale brewers, but it quickly grew to a powerful industry as America’s taste for brew grew with immigration and urbanization. Prohibition briefly drove brewers back home to circumvent Volstead Act restrictions, but with the coming of repeal, beer was one of the first alcoholic beverages to reappear. Big business and mass advertising concentrated beer making into the hands of a few brewing giants. But Americans returning from European jaunts noticed the difference between foreign beers and ales and American standardized, mass-produced lagers. And thus, in the 1970s, small breweries began to spring up, and America’s craft-beer revolution was under way. Acitelli offers portraits of the dozens of entrepreneurs nationwide who started small-production runs and soon developed a following, often through their own brewpubs. The cast of characters he has marshaled demonstrates these microbreweries’ diverse individuality, even as some have grown into significant corporations of their own. --Mark Knoblauch
"The Audacity of Hops chronicles the rich history of America's craft brewing revolution with deft portraits of the resourceful pioneers, the innovative brewers, and the intrepid entrepreneurs who are changing the way the world thinks about beer." -Steve Hindy, co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery and co-author of Beer School
"A new and excellent history of craft beers in America." -Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator
"Rather than become mired in a minutiae of names and dates, Acitelli wisely frames his narrative as a discrete selection of entertaining vignettes that focus on key players and moments in America's craft-beer revolution as representative of the larger movement. It's an entertaining and informative read for anyone remotely interested in the history of American craft beer." -The Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.)
"Tom Acitelli has compiled an extensive collection of firsthand accounts from the pioneers, brewers and industry luminaries that have taken beer back from industrial giants. A book for the craft beer nerd who thinks he or she already knows the story, The Audacity of Hops is sure to provide new insight into craft beer's explosive popularity." -The Los Angeles Times
“This is the story of how the ‘Kingdom of Beer’ was returned to the drinker. It’s about the nurturing of the beer epiphany in a time when word of a revolution in the making was passed on one glass of brew at a time. The Audacity of Hops is an absorbing reflection on what goes into every professional craft-brewed beer in America. Impassioned millions have taken the kingdom back.” —Charlie Papazian, founder of the American Homebrewers Association and author of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing
"Excellent history of the American craft brewing movement." —Slate
“Mr. Acitelli’s exhaustive chronicle of the American beer revolution … lovingly told.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Highly quaffable and enjoyable. You can crack open a section or two, pore over it for an hour or so, and familiarize yourself with the moments and luminaries who contributed heavily to the American brewing renaissance. Heady stuff.” —Sam Calagione, president and founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and author of Brewing Up a Business
“[Tom Acitelli]’s thorough research into the craft beer revolution tells a great story and shows how a ragtag yet purposeful group of passionate individuals can build an industry. He did an amazing job capturing the characters, improbable tales, and astounding passion that make up the craft brewing community.” —Ken Grossman, founder, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
"A lot of beer books come across my desk, but few are as thorough, well-researched and approachable as The Audacity of Hops. Author Tom Acitelli takes a reporter's approach to telling the story of the rise of craft beer in America."—Evan S. Benn, Esquire magazine beer columnist
"Journalist and beer-lover Acitelli's exceptional document of this remarkable growth profiles the brewers, breweries, and brewhounds that have played a part in today's booming craft beer industry... It's an ingenious means of telling a story with so many influential characters, and Acitelli pulls it off, with an eye for detail and a nose for drama."—Publishers Weekly Starred review
Top customer reviews
The narrative wanders across the country and elsewhere telling the stories of those who thought American beer was lacking in taste and what they did to improve their beer. How Fritz Maytag learned how to make consistently excellent beer . From Jack McAuliffe who put together New Albion Brewing in Sonoma, CA from scratch and labored night and day to brew and sell beer that was well-liked but could not keep the brewery open for long, to Paul Grossman and Ken Camusi, who founded Sierra Nevada Beer in Chico, CA (also from scratch) and managed to create a popular beer that was successful. Helping things along was Michael Lewis, professor of fermentation science at UC Davis (the only brewing professor in the west) who provided advice to beginning brewers.Then there were many others across the country who made the leap from home brewer to small breweries. While others like Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Company, had a regional brewery make his beer under contract. (He had originally thought that a brewery needed a computer to keep track of records, only to be told that it was better have many customers before buying a computer. So he brewed up test batches and bottled them, then peddled the beer from restaurant to restaurant to get the customers.) The demand for his beer and availability of surplus brewing space at some breweries gave him the idea of contracting out the brewing while he took care of sales.
There were so many people interested in this new style of beer that an annual gathering of beer fans was created, "The Great American Beer Festival," where small breweries and home brewers could show off their beers. A system of judging was developed where the best beer in a category would get a gold medal, runners-up silver and bronze medals. Breweries that won medals were encouraged to market their winning beers more than others so a better product could be produced. Beer drinkers really took to craft beers and drank less beer from big breweries, which led to the following reaction. Miller came out with "Lite" Beer (based on an European low-alcohol beer) which went over well. Soon every large brewery had a light beer, which took a chuck out of craft beer sales. Then some years later, the big breweries invested in their own craft breweries, figuring if you can't beat them, join them.
Unequivocally, yes. When a book on craft beer begins with a page and a half of upbeat blurbs by Maureen Ogle, Ken Grossman, Steve Hindy, Jeremy Cowan and David Geary, we’d all better sit up straight and pay attention. The magnitude and depth of history that Acitelli manages to pull together in just over 400 pages is impressive.
The danger of such a book is of falling into a boring recitation of names, dates and events. Acitelli, who thoroughly researched his narrative, never goes there. His passion as a beer writer mirrors that of the best craft brewers who have brought the industry to where it is today. My favorite mini-history of the entire book, which seems to encapsulate the success-against-the-odds history of craft brewing, is Acitelli’s recounting of Pliny the Younger’s evolution. It’s a tale of big visions, steady success and, ultimately, the kind of triumph that thousands of craft brewers and “American Idol” contestants dream of.
With “The Audacity of Hops,” Acitelli is in a league of his own.
There's a lot to recommend this book, but for the next edition, I'd consider a very hard edit.