Over the past two decades, American-brewed beer has evolved from what was largely a mass-produced product with only a few dominant national-scale brands into a highly diverse craft industry, with independent breweries all over the country focusing on the artisanal, creative elements of the beer-making process. One of the chief hotbeds of this cultural shift is the Midwest, the center of America’s traditional brewing culture.
Now, Anna Blessing has written (and photographed) LOCALLY BREWED: Portraits of Craft Breweries from America’s Heartland (February 13, 2014, 978-1- 57284-151-2, $22.95), which celebrates this renaissance in American brewing. The book profiles 20 Midwestern breweries, featuring interviews with owners and brewmasters, photos, and brewery artwork, and is full of entertaining, inspiring stories from the people who have been instrumental in the Midwest’s craft brewing movement.
Blessing highlights the breweries’ special processes and the stories behind limited brews, such as Three Floyds’ legendary Dark Lord Russian stout. The entire quantity of Dark Lord brewed each year usually sells out in one mad “Dark Lord Day,” when thousands of fans descend on the Indiana brewery to snap up as much of the beer as possible. Owners and brewmasters discuss how they got their starts, how they overcome apathetic or undereducated local beer-drinkers and sellers, and how they dealt with increasing demand and distribution issues while still maintaining their beer’s integrity. The stories in Locally Brewed provide a fun, eye-opening look at how small, locally owned companies have been able to thrive in markets where they’ve created a thirst for their diverse, well-crafted brews.
The book also includes distinctive, whimsical details about each brewery, such as favorite beer labels and tap-pulls and “brewmaster playlists,” along with information on the best local bars in which to get a pint from each brewery and notes on distribution and volume production. Locally Brewed is meant for both casual readers as well as dedicated beer enthusiasts.
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