An Age of Beer Stained Pages [The Critics]

Huzzah! Here’s a thoughtful review of The Great American Ale Trail by The Atlantic Monthly‘s Clay Risen. Cheers to Risen for the “young and talented” and “fluid and entertaining” bits! Good man, I owe you a beer.

A young and talented beer journalist, DeBenedetti provides extensive descriptions of beer bars, stores, breweries, brewpubs, and restaurants with extensive beer lists (11 Madison Park, one of Manhattan’s toniest eateries, also boasts one of the country’s best beer inventories). Tucked between are travel itineraries, regional overviews, and general musings about the culture of beer in America. What could have been a dry mash note to the nation’s beer havens is, in DeBenedetti’s hands, a fluid, entertaining handbook.

Here’s the rest, which quibbles with my having missed one of Risen’s favorites spots in Tennessee (join the club, my friend), and only describing one brewery in Bend, OR (there are four in the book actually). It’s an honor to have my work in The Atlantic — there was a time not so long ago when books about beer didn’t even exist.

The Problem With Guides to Beer Drinking: There Just Aren’t Enough (via The Atlantic)

Continue reading “An Age of Beer Stained Pages [The Critics]”

Raise a Glass to Fall [Diversions]


thirsty much?
thirsty much?

The sky may be falling on Wall Street, but we’ll always have beer. It makes us happy; it’s inexpensive; it’s readily available. What’s not to like? And fall is an especially good time to drink it. The Great American Beer Festival is in just a few weeks; the traditional Oktoberfest in Munich started just two days ago—and will go for another 13—but there are plenty of reasons raise a glass of beer right now, and close to home instead. 


For the last five years I’ve had the incredibly good fortune to join my friend Seth Fletcher in rating the best beers in the land (or sometimes the world) for MEN’S JOURNAL, a somber task we approach with monkish restraint (OK, we enjoy it mightily, but if we actually finished the hundreds of bottles we sample each summer the story would never happen. Much returns to Earth from whence it came. And we have notebooks, piles of them. We swear.)

This year’s list is on newsstands now, and this time, the premise was deceptively simple: if you like ‘X’ mass beer, try ‘Y’ craft variation. Are you a Guinness drinker? Then try Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter, available in 19 states and counting. With an eye toward America’s smallest, most artisanal craft brewers—some with only a handful of employees—we dedicated ourselves to coming up with a list of exceptional American (and in one case, Quebecois) craft beers that are a bit harder to find, but so worth the effort. Many of these beers are available in NYC, on tap or in bottles at bars like The Blind Tiger, Bar Great Harry, DBA, Against The Grain, Spuyten Duyvil, The Diamond, the Brazen Head, and more. There’s also a mini-profile of beer provocateur Vinnie Cilurzo (of California’s Russian River Brewing Company). Enjoy!


– Our previous offerings: 2004, 20052006, and 2007.

– The hard-to-please imbibers online at discuss our picks (via, guys).

– Photo album: Outtakes from my 12 month tour through 14 countries, 59 breweries, and 330 beers on the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in 1996-7.

– Interesting piece by Nick Kulish on the German beer scene today (NYT).

Fall Back Into Place – With A Beer

It was busy summer, alright. For one thing, I spent about six weeks on the West Coast for various weddings, birthdays, reporting trips, baby showers, campouts, fireworks, kayak crashes, more birthdays. Now that I’m back, let me try to get back up to speed. For one thing, the articles: My co-writer Seth Fletcher and I managed to alternately delight and peeve members of the beer brewing community with our fourth annual Best Beers in the World feature in Men’s Journal (posted on my site, here’s 2004, 2005, and 2006). Our faves for 2007Firestone Walker Pale Ale, Oskar Blues‘ Dale’s Pale Ale, Deschutes‘ The Abyss, Saison Dupont, Lagunitas Pils, Aventinus Doppleweizenbock, and, oh, about 50 others. We had a lot of fun this time, categorically speaking. For example: the best beer for ice fishing, with spare change, in case of natural disaster? The issue story isn’t on the magazine’s site yet, so I will do my darndest to scan it in soon. The story was picked up by The Today Show (clips require Windows Media Player) this weekend (OK, when the spokesperson refers to MJ’s secret inside team? That’s us), and I even managed to pull myself out of bed at 5AM to talk about the story on the WB11 (a local station), marking three years in a row I’ve been invited on. Of course, it’s all because the crew gets to stand around and divvy up the leftovers, which is my favorite part. Cheers guys!