Outskirts Press (2016)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (06/17)
I have enjoyed opportunities to go wine tasting in Paso Robles, California and La Valley de Guadalupe, Mexico. I also visited agave plantations in Mexico to see how tequila is made. On my bucket list, I dream of touring whiskey distilleries in Scotland. In spite of evolving from keg parties in college to microbrew parties after graduation, never would I have thought to take an 11,000-mile journey on a BMW motorcycle to explore beer crafting in America! But that is exactly what the author Zach Stinehour did. And he began his travels from upstate New York in the winter! 44 breweries and 244 beers later, he shares his journey with us in “An American Beer Trail” by telling his story and illustrating it with photographs taken along the way.
Before Zach takes us on his journey, he gives a brief history of beer, taking us back to Mesopotamia and bringing us into the present with interesting facts about the craft, which includes explaining some of the different beer styles. At almost every stop, he also intersperses interesting historical facts about beer into his current experience. It amazes me how many of the common phrases used today are historically linked to alcohol. This includes, “tanked,” and “getting off scot-free.” The historical information presented makes the brewery experiences even more enriching. I also think it was very creative of Zach to, for the most part, use photographs that were taken off his motorcycle in scenic places, rather than of the breweries themselves, because it sets more of an ambience for the area in which he is passing through.
I really enjoyed “An American Beer Trail” by Zach Stinehour and my interest is piqued in learning more about the craft of beer, especially because I now have a greater respect for the history that is behind this industry. While I am not sure if I will sign up for the Master Brewer’s certification program through the UC Davis Extension, I will definitely strive to keep myself informed about my brews! This book would make an excellent gift for someone who enjoys long distance travel on motorcycles and the craft industry of beer.