The CBW Archives

CBW Book Club 6: Buffalo Beer

We had arrived at our sixth book club. Scott, Alex, Mark, David and I knew the drill: pick a book. Read a book. Talk about the book while drinking beer.

The book, in this case, was Buffalo Beer, by Michael Rizzo and Ethan Cox. Yes, Ethan! Our Ethan. We had he could join us, and he had every intention of doing so, but then he was called away to brew a New York State collaboration beer, which is not the sort of thing you say no to.

Scott started things off by commenting on how fact-laden the book was. Chock full o’ facts, this one. It was impeccably researched: the text lists the cemeteries many of the people named in the book are buried in. (Although I did think that it might have been better served in an appendix)

David took this one step further: perhaps Buffalo Beer‘s greatest contribution to our beer heritage would come in the future, serving as the stepping stone for subsequent books. No one book can fit in everything about every aspect. If you want to get a basic gist, though? Read this book. Use it as the excellent secondary source that it is.

Alex would have liked a little more narrative from it, rather than the overwhelming tidal wave of names and dates. I compared it to Nickel City Drafts, a previous book club entry: they function as sort of bookends on the spectrum of “academic” to “conversational.”

And yet, even though this was the third book on Buffalo brewing history I’ve read, it still contained anecdotes I hadn’t heard before! I made sure to bring up the story of the man who sent his wife with a potential investor to make sure he had a good time, only to later sue because they had fallen in love and run away together.

Or the prime time level drama that was the Rochevot family, first entrenched in legal battles amongst themselves and, finally, in a – well. Actually, I don’t think I’ll spoil that part.

As the night went on we began to look ahead: what would the Buffalo beer landscape look like in the future? I’ve written before about how we aren’t in a bubble, but even so it’s possible that eventually one of the breweries currently open will close. I said that I would be honestly shocked if any of them — us! — did now. It just seems unfathomable. Which is a very, very good thing.

And then things devolved more, to the point where I was reading tweets from @nihilist_arbys and Kim Kierkegaardashian. Eventually we chose the next book: Scott had regaled us with snippets from Pete Brown’s Three Sheets to the Wind all night, and despite Hops & Glory being one of my favorite books I haven’t actually read any of Brown’s other works.

So it is to be: August 26: Pete Brown’s Three Sheets to the Wind. Possibly at CBW, but Alex thinks he has a line on a very cool space for us to meet. Stay tuned, and read on.