Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beer is Proof this book sucks

Beer Is Proof God Loves Us: Reaching for the Soul of Beer and BrewingIf we can sum up Beer is Proof God Loves Us in one word it's dreadful. Sure, it's an easy read filled with nuggets of beer trivia but Charles W. Bamforth comes across as admittedly "yearning for a better time."

Mr. Bamforth has quite a brewing pedigree. He's worked for some of the biggest and best breweries in the business. He's the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting Brewing Sciences at UC Davis and he's taught courses in more countries we've visited. Finally, Beer is Proof God Loves Us is just the latest of his publications. So, at the end of the day we're in no real position to judge. Then again, we're in no position to judge beer and we do that all the time. And we judge people like we're searching for the next American Idol.

The opening chapter, Global Concerns, is the most informative. It offers a brief overview of how the big brewing conglomerates got so, well big. The book goes downhill from there. Mr. Bamforth blames Margaret Thatcher for much of what's wrong in England's brewing industry, gives a begrudging nod to craft brews while never missing an opportunity to boast on the great beers made by the biggest of brewers, quotes Emerson and talks religion. According to the author, the endnotes are worth the read but we cut our losses at the final chapter.

We can all agree that beer really is proof that god loves us but that hardly seems the central focus of the book primarily because the book lacks central focus. Beer's ties to religion certainly is not the theme of the book. Although it's discussed towards the end of the book it's included in an awkward discussion around religious ties to conflict and the author's time spent in the Middle East. Other pages touch on the role of homebrewing and neo-prohibitionists to ensure we cover the full spectrum of the brew topics. It might be a meandering stream of conscious writing or a series of chapters left out of other books and looking for a home. Either way, you'll certainly learn something and you probably should read the endnotes - but that's about all you should read.

Oh, and Benjamin Franklin never said "beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy".

No comments: