Brewed Awakening ReviewYou only have to scan the shelves at your local craft beer emporium to realize the beer world just keeps growing. New styles. Old styles. New twists on old styles. This hop. That malt. It can be a perplexing place for casual beer drinkers or a never-ending race to keep up for beer connoisseurs.

Several book authors have attempted to guide readers through the ever-expanding craft beer world, delving into the history and science of brewing, cataloging the myriad new and old-world styles or listing the must-drink-before-you-die beers of the universe. But Bernstein sets his book apart by going beyond lists and beer reviews (though he includes plenty of these, as well).

Behind the new styles and the latest hop from the hopyard are a bevy of entrepreneurial and artisanal brewers at the forefront of the craft beer explosion. Through dozens of interviews with the likes of Dogfish Head’s Sam Caglione, Nøgne Ø’s Kjetil Jikiun, and Russian River Brewing’s Vinnie Cilurzo, among many others, Bernstein invites the reader into the lives of these craft beer heavyweights and gets the stories behind the beers.

Why did Odell Brewing’s Joe Mohrfield decide on new oak barrels rather than old bourbon barrels for its Woodcut Series? How did Upright Brewing’s Alex Ganum discover gose? How did Brian Strumke, a techno DJ with no brewing experience, become a celebrity brewer who produces a delicious array of saisons at Stillwater Artisanal Ales?

Bernstein keeps the reader flipping pages with these human stories and an engaging voice, polished after many years writing about beer for the New York Press, and Imbibe magazine.

Brewed Awakening is organized thematically. It tackles the essential ingredients, offering quick takes on 41 hop varieties and the basic grains brewers use. He covers beer styles, new and old. At the end of each section, Bernstein recommends beers to try in that category (he reviews a total of 150 different craft beers). Enjoyed that chapter about aging beers? He recommends 10 beers made to take a nap in your cellar. Intrigued by gose? He offers four salty gose to try. Like the idea of a session beer? Bernstein steers the reader towards 10 low-alcohol brews they could drink, and drink, and drink.

The first thing you notice about the book is its non-traditional binding. Its dust jacket folds out to become a map of beer styles, including Bernstein’s picks in each category. The book’s interior is also non-traditional, designed “to look just like Joshua’s notebook,” according to its marketing copy. The result is an easy-to-read, attractive book that offers a reader the opportunity to open the book to any page and just start reading.

While the book is an excellent choice for newly initiated craft beer lovers who wants to immerse themselves in beer geekiness, its pages also offer fascinating tidbits on each page that will delight even the most die-hard beer geek.

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