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The CBW Book Club Midseason Finale: Microbrewed Adventures

So. I’ve been sitting on this book club recap for a while.

Generally I try to get them out quickly, so that I can tell people what the next book is. But, you see, I did not finish Microbrewed Adventures by Charlie Papazian. I have not finished a few books now, and so with a heavy heart I suggested that we put the book club on hiatus.

But: there was the book at hand!

I quite liked the first section of the book, as Papazian detailed the early days of homebrewing, including a pleasant collaboration with Anheuser Busch that entailed a semi dropping off kegs at his house, much to the confusion of his neighbors.

Once he got into visiting breweries like Stone and Rogue, though, I began to lose interest. I knew these stories. We’ve read The Audacity of Hops, and the run downs of the breweries began to all sound the same: here is Brewery X, they are so passionate, here is a delicious beer I tried.

The others agreed, and put it more succinctly than I could have: they would have preferred half as many places profiled, with twice as much information about each. But then, I hadn’t finished the book, and it seems I really need to: eventually he goes to Fiji and learns about “cowboy drinking”.

What makes Microbrewed Adventures stand out among all the history and travel books we’ve read are the recipes. For each place Papazian visits he provides a homebrew recipe for something he tried.

How accurate were they, we wondered? It may not have been a direct comparison, but I knew how to get a basic idea: I grabbed a copy of Beer Lovers New York off of our retail shelves (available for just $15!) and flipped to the back. You see, BLNY has recipes too, and one of them is The Whale.

I flagged down Jeannie, who was hard at work in the brewery while we sat around drinking beer and talking about a book I hadn’t read. She confirmed that the recipe was very close, and where it differed was only due to the natural course of our recipes changing over the years as we adjust for variations in ingredients.

I have plans to brew a recipe from the book later this month, with my brothers in law, the second in our “BIL” series (it’s an acronym) after last fall’s BILchrist Christmas ale. It looks like we’ve settled on the “1447 Belgium Zwarte Rose Ale”, so: we’ll brew it, and I’ll let you know how it goes.