Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Great Northeast Brewery Tour

Interview with Ben Keene, author of The Great Northeast Brewery Tour Non-Flash podcast

It seems like more and more quality beer books are being published these days. In the past, aside from Michael Jackson's works, beer books tended to fall into one of two categories:  the more technically-inclined style books aimed at homebrewers and fluffier, basic "beers are either ales or lagers" coffee table books. But in the past few years, the quality of beer writing has greatly improved and there are now plenty of books geared to those with more than a rudimentary knowledge of beer and brewing yet which don't alienate the newcomer. A recent entry into the field is The Great Northeast Brewery Tour - Tap into the Best Craft Breweries in New England and the Mid-Atlantic by Ben Keene with a forward by Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver.

Ben and his photographer, Bethany Bandera
In his book, Ben profiles 62 breweries in 11 states and the District of Columbia. The profiles give a brief history of each brewery, list the annual production, and provide a list of some of the year-round and seasonal beers. In addition, there are more in-depth descriptions of some of the beers. But what makes this book unique is the well-researched information about things to do in the vicinity of the brewery, making it a hybrid beer book/tour guide.

If a brewery has an adjoining restaurant or is a brewpub, Ben suggests beer and food pairings. If there is no food to be had at the brewery, he lists local bars and restaurants nearby where you can try the brewery's beers. And because life is (surprise, surprise) not all about beer, the suggestions for other activities to do in the area should appeal to a range of interests, whether it's sea kayak tour before or after visiting Marshall Wharf in Maine, Civil War national battlefields near Flying Dog in Maryland, or a visit to poet Robert Frost's farm near the Woodstock Inn in New Hampshire.

If you want to make more than a day trip. Ben also lists a lodging suggestion near each brewery.

There are some notable omissions - Tröegs in Pennsylvania is profiled but not Victory, for example - but at 240 pages, it's not meant to be a comprehensive listing and is slim enough to throw into your overnight bag. I'd suggest doing a bit of your own research on one of the many on-line forums to find out about other breweries nearby and then hitting the road.

As for me, as many times as I've been to New Hampshire, I had no idea that there was a NH Dairy Trail. I know what I'll be doing on our next trip up this summer.  Beer floats anyone?

Each state section has its own map

An example of the profiles found on each brewery page