Will You Help Me Update The Ale Trail?

My first book, The Great American Ale Trail, was a curated list of 425 destinations with an emphasis on great places to pack up and visit (so amazing breweries without tasting rooms of any kind were omitted). The timing was good, perhaps too good. Since the book came out in late 2011, the size of the U.S. industry has more than *doubled* and I can’t keep up anymore (who can?). As I prepare a new version for 2016, I have the unenviable task of sifting through what is quite literally a mountain of new options nationwide—breweries, beer bars, bottle shops, huge festivals I’ve never even heard of. I’m humbly looking for some help in defining the best beer spots, especially opened since 2011 (and not in the original book) that truly define craft beer now and where it’s headed. What would you add? What would you cut? I have about 100 new slots (and must cut 25-50). Let me know! Here’s the 2011 index, click “read more”. If you have suggestions, bring ’em on. I’ll be forever grateful!

Continue reading “Will You Help Me Update The Ale Trail?”

Of Books, Bräulers, & The Weekly Pint

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Pouring locally grown Crystal hops into the hop back—and loving every minute of it.

Greetings! Hope everyone is having a good fall.

I’m just back to rainy Oregon from snowy Denver, where I got to taste my first ever collaboration beer with Odell Brewing Co. In a nod to the writing life (and the ever-inspiring pub) we dubbed this aromatic brew  PUBlisher Extra Pale Ale. Thanks a million to Odell Pilot System/barrel aging manager Brent Cordle for letting me get my boots wet — it’s been a long time since I helped brew on a bigger system. We came up with a recipe via email and brewed it during the week of GABF. Into our 9.5bbl batch (mostly pale and pilsner malts) we added three 4lb. hop additions of locally grown Crystals (Hallertau) and used another 18lbs in the hop back. The resulting beer? Sessionable at 5%ABV, bright, citrusy, peachy, clean, refreshing, delicious! Head into the Odell taproom to try it if you’re nearby until it’s gone.

What else? It has been an incredibly busy twelve months of beer writing throughout Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Massachussetts (2x)…San Francisco, Denver (3x), San Diego, NYC (5x), Los Angeles (2x), Chicago, DC/Baltimore, Seattle, Stockholm Sweden, Piedmont, and most memorably Belgium… and even more places I am probably forgetting. No one who was present could ever forget The Festival, the Shelton’ Bros. inaugural gathering of the tribe, held in Worcester, MA. Meanwhile I launched what I hope will become an annual craft beer tradition for NYC, the Brooklyn Pig & Pickle, with Brooklyn Brewery. I also got to host fun book events and dinners (DBGB in NYC, Central Bistro & Bar in Denver, Ale House at Amato’s, Deschutes Brewery & Public House, Pike Brewery, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, 21st Amendment, Pizzeria Paradiso, Oakland’s Beer Revolution, The Kitchen Next Door, and several others), and still found the time to publish about 80 or 90 articles, including my first ink in GQ, my first national Op-Ed, and many more. Sleep? What’s that?

Two late summer highlights: bringing craft beer officially into the International Pinot Noir celebration, and helping throw the inaugural FEAST Portland event, for which I was honored to coordinate three memorable beer panels with the help of some of the best and brightest brewers in the world from Cantillon to Hill Farmstead, Crooked Stave, Breakside, Mikkeller, Drie Fonteinen, Logsdon, Double Mountain, Widmer, The Commons, Long, Dogfish Head, and many more. Look out world. Next year’s will take it all even higher. Suffice to say the repeat of Beer Vs. Wine with Cheese starring famed sommelier Josh Wesson, cheese guru Steve Jones, and yours truly will be a rumble in the jungle.

My e-newsletter Weekly Pint, launched in January, is connecting with an ever-wider audience. I’m asking for your help to keep the momentum up. We are up to 30,000 subscribers who get our brief emails 2x/week, with over 11K fans on FaceBook. If you you haven’t signed up or alerted your fans, now would be a good time, as we are giving away a beer trip for 2 to Belgium, curated by Vanberg & Dewulf.

Thank you if you can share that link with your social networks. Weekly Pint is on Twitter as @WeeklyPint and Instagram as well. Please follow along.

Currently Weekly Pint is booking partners for our national craft beer tasting tour for 2013, UNTAPPED, slated for a potential launch event in LA in January. Please get in touch if you’re interested to participate.

Some of you know I’m a cofounder of The Zythos Project, Portland-based makers of The Bräuler stainless steel growler. Featured in a glowing full page review in this month’s WIRED design issue, we are thrilled to have the bottle for sale in more than 25 innovative brewing companies across the nation.

Our company link is here and more importantly, the related KickStarter project is here. Thank you for sharing the KickStarter link with your  networks. We have just two weeks left in our campaign, and every little bit counts. For ordering quotes on our much-loved bottle, please contact Harvey Claussen via harvey@thezythosproject.com. Be good to your beer!

Also, thank you for all your support of my book The Great American Ale Trail. Out just over a year now, the book has now moved into a 4th printing (14,000 copies in print) and was recently named the top travel guidebook in the United States in the Lowell Thomas Awards, a competition of the Society of American Travel Writers. If you don’t have a copy, Amazon’s got it in stock.

Here’s to finishing 2012 strong, and to a great 2013!

Official Press Release – The Great American Ale Trail (9/6/11)

**Click here to download in MSWord: GreatAmericanAleTrailPressRelease**

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Publication Month: September 2011

Publicity Contact: Craig Herman –  215-567-5370

craig.herman@perseusbooks.com

 

“A roadmap for taste-bud adventure…anyone who prizes good beer need never go thirsty again.”

—Jane & Michael Stern, authors of Roadfood

 

THE GREAT AMERICAN ALE TRAIL:

The Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to the

Best Watering Holes in the Nation

by Christian DeBenedetti

There are now close to 1,800 craft breweries and brewpubs in America, and countless sophisticated craft beer bars opening almost weekly. For the intrepid, culinary-minded beer lover, where to begin?

 From crab shacks and copper-lined brewpubs to farmhouse startups and elegant New York restaurants, THE GREAT AMERICAN ALE TRAIL by Christian DeBenedetti (Running Press; September 2011; Paperback; $20.00 US) leads readers on the ultimate, coast-to-coast road trip of craft beer. This ambitious project is the first definitive guide to the worthiest places to discover and drink craft beer across the entire United States. With over 400 destinations and suggestions for what to order in each one, it also maps out how those beers relate to the local, national, and international beer cultures and profiles the interesting characters behind all the great beers. By celebrating the places craft beer culture thrives—breweries, beer bars, bottle shops, festivals and restaurants including some of the country’s highest rated eateries—this groundbreaking new book will show readers where and how to make their own beer journeys, and what to watch out for along the way. The big question behind this book, and the one it will answer, is: to find the best craft beer in the land, where to go, and what to discover? What inspires these artisans, and what do they know about beer—and life—that the intrepid author didn’t?

About the Author:

Raised on a working hazelnut farm in the Willamette Valley outside of Portland, Oregon, adventure travel and food & drink writer Christian DeBenedetti, has worked on the staffs of Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and Men’s Journal magazines. A dedicated beer and travel writer who was mentored by the late British beer writer Michael Jackson, he regularly contributes to the above publications as well as The New York Times, Food & Wine, Esquire, Departures, and many others. A 1996 graduate of Whitman College, he was the recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which he used to study traditional methods of making beer in 14 European and West African nations in 1996 – 1997. Currently he is Beer Correspondent for Food & Wine, Contributing Editor to National Geographic Adventure, and Correspondent for Outside Magazine. He has appeared on ABC’s World News Tonight, and ABC Nightline.

The Great American Ale Trail: The Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation

by Christian DeBenedetti

Price: $20.00; Format: Trade Paperback Original, 363 pages w/index

ISBN: 9780762443758; September 2011

On FaceBook

On Twitter: @AleTrail

Great American Ale Trail Cover (Design by Ryan Hayes, Perseus Books/Running Press)

Finish Line…FaceSpace…Field Photos…

Almost there...

My first book, THE GREAT AMERICAN ALE TRAIL (Running Press ’11), is in its final stages of completion! What an amazing year of travel and discoveries…I don’t even know where to begin. Such an inspiring and challenging and rewarding project. Please take a moment to visit and ‘like’ my FaceBook page for the book. I’ve got a photo album going from my research (and beer field research going back to 1996 or so…) I’ll keep it updated on all things related—release dates and events for the fall, readings, spontaneous beer drinking sessions in Portland…that sort of thing. Thanks for your support….It makes all the difference. And please, follow me on Twitter too: @debenedetti.

Cheers!

CDB

Brauereisterben

Slate: Germany’s beer culture is in decline.
By Christian DeBenedetti. Posted Wednesday, March 2, 2011, at 10:07 AM ET

Germans, famously, coin neologisms when a crisis hits or the culture reels in a new direction. Take die bad bank (toxic lender), kreditklemme (credit crunch), or twittern (sending a message via Twitter). Because Germany’s brewing industry has fallen on hard times, especially since the mid-1990s, you’ll now hear brauereisterben (literally, “brewery death”) muttered across the land as well. That may sound a little ridiculous, but in a country practically synonymous with beer and brewing—buxom servers in dirndls and overflowing steins, the biergarten echoing with song—the possibility of a downturn is a major buzz kill.

The facts are stark: According to German federal statistics released in late January, German brewing has dropped to less than 100 million hectoliters of production for the first time since reunification in 1990. (That’s less than half of the United States’ annual output.) The same study revealed that consumption dropped almost 3 percent last year alone, to 101.8 liters per person per year, and that it’s down about one-third overall since the previous generation. The number of breweries in the country has also dropped—by about half over the last few decades to around 1,300. (There are nearly 1,700 up and running in the U.S.) The vaunted Weihenstephan brew master degree program in Munich adopts a dour tone on its student prospectus, saying the majority of graduates don’t actually become brew masters but instead head for jobs in mechanical engineering and the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Further evidence of brauereisterben is depressingly easy to pile on. Continue reading “Brauereisterben”