I don’t know about you but everyone in my world needs a stiff drink and a relaxing night to read a book right about now. Help yourself or someone else take their minds off any troubles by buying a booze book for the holidays. Here are ten of my most highly recommended releases of 2021.
A Woman’s Place Is in the Brewhouse: A Forgotten History of Alewives, Brewsters, Witches and CEOs, Tara Nurin — Considering my book is the greatest thing ever written, it sits atop this year’s annual list. Kidding, people, kidding. I can say in all seriousness, however, that it is the first book to chronicle the full history of women in beer, which likely dates back 200,000 years, give or take a few. If I may crib from my own jacket cover to describe it more fully: “Dismiss the stereotype of the bearded brewer. It’s women, not men, who’ve brewed beer throughout most of human history. A Woman’s Place Is in the Brewhouse celebrates the contributions and influence of female brewers and explores the forces that have erased them from the brewing world. But there are more breweries now than at any time in American history and today women serve as founder, CEO, or head brewer at more than one thousand of them.”
Brewing with Cannabis: Using THC and CBD in Beer, Keith Villa — Recently Brewers Publications caused some grumbling by publishing a book on how to make hard seltzer. I haven’t heard a single word of complaint about this would-be-but-isn’t controversial soft-cover guide to brewing up a buzz of a different sort. The man who created the Blue Moon brand writes with an approachable manner to share what he and his wife and daughter have learned so far at Ceria Brewing, the cannabis beverage brand they own and operate in Colorado.
The Fermentation Kitchen: Recipes for the Craft Beer Lover’s Pantry, Gabe Toth — Designed as an intro-level guide to making and cooking with fermented foods and pairing them with beer as an ingredient, this floppy book is good for anyone who wants to catch up with last year’s sourdough bread-baking craze then move into charcuterie and more.
Modern British Beer, Matthew Curtis — Published by the prestigious Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), this book may be arguably considered the definitive history of British beermaking as we know it today.
The Beer Bible (2nd Edition), Jeff Alworth: The title of this book does not mislead. It sits on any serious beer scholar’s shelf to serve as a thumbable reference for beer styles, history, classic examples and the like. Now updated for the first time since its original publishing in 2015, the nouveau rendition presents new sections on hoppy ales, European farmhouse brewing, and sake, along with updated information throughout.
The World Atlas of Beer, 3rd Edition, Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb: Another beer “bible,” this one for beer travelers, gets a makeover for the 21st century. Beaumont and Webb’s atlas, first published in 2012, helped put them on the proverbial map for everyone with a passport and a penchant for beer. A silver lining of its publication delay because of COVID means the authors squeezed in some up-to-the-second info about the impact of the pandemic on the global beer community.
Booze Cruise, A Tour of the World’s Essential Mixed Drinks, Andre Darlington — Want to slide some information about a local cocktail scene into your itinerary there? Darlington, who most often writes with his sister, Tenaya Darlington, makes quick work of telling us that in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for example, rum is the island’s drink of choice for 450 years and that the La Factoria lounge (one of my go-to spots in the city) boasts an internationally awarded list. He then includes a recipe for a circa-1950s pina colada, invented on the island, and another for coquito, which I dare say I’ll have to taste test against my brother’s version of the signature Christmas elixir.
The Art of the Japanese Cocktail, Masahiro Urushido and Michael Anstendig — With its close-up photo of a man’s hands breaking up a mitt-sized sphere of ice, the art of this hardbound book cover powerfully grabs the reader before even saying a word. Internationally awarded mixologist Urushido mixes stylized photos with conversational language to bring sophisticated Japanese-inspired drink recipes into the common kitchen.
Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol, Mallory O’Meara — I haven’t had a chance to read this women’s alcohol history survey yet, as it came out two weeks after mine and just two months ago. So while I can’t evaluate its accuracy in my field of expertise, I can say that it’s past time for authors to explore women’s fundamental role in supplying the world with alcohol, and I’m intrigued and excited by buzzphrases in the description like, “long-standing patriarchal traditions at the