I got to pick up this book by Dr. Alison E. Feeney last Thursday at the Mid-Town Scholar ahead of her panel discussion (alongside Hannah Ison, Jeffrey Musselman, and Sara Bozich). You can read about that here: “For The Love of Beer – Panel Discussion“. It was a fun and entertaining (and informative) night at the Mid-Town Scholar getting to listen to the three of them discuss breweries, beer, brewing, and community.
And that is the heart of this book. Communities. Even moreso than the breweries this is ‘about’, the heart of the book though is communities. And at the heart of a lot of communities, and growing, is craft breweries. Breweries, in particular craft breweries, are the seat of many things in communities now adays. Places like Boneshire, Moo-Duck, Troegs, and many other breweries that give back to their communities through charities and other activities. Breweries like ZeroDay and Millworks that act like centerpieces for revitalization of downtown areas.
There is so much to love about craft breweries and what all they do (and can do). And Dr. Feeney’s book covers that so well. From revitalizing downtown areas, or old historic buildings, to providing a center and a place for a community, to being an employment opportunity for the local town, to sustainability and environmental help, providing spent grain for local farmers, to helping charities, to hosting events, to having delicious food, to having local ingredients, etc, there is so much that breweries do for their local communities.
Dr. Alison Feeney has traveled all across Pennsylvania checking out various breweries, hop farms, malts, grains, communities, universities, etc, and has gotten a feel for the state, its history, its brewing industry, and the breweries and the people. She’s interviewed tons of people, she’s talked to customers, brewers, hop growers, home brew shop owners, just about everyone you can think of attached to the industry.
The book covers a lot of different breweries across the state. From big to little. From regional powerhouses like Victory and Troegs to smaller localized shops like Moo-Duck, Boneshire, Bonn Place, etc. She has traveled all across the state, all of the regions covered.
There is a wealth of information in the book detailing the history of beer, the history of brewing, the history of Pennsylvania, and brewing and beer in Pennsylvania, as well as a wealth of information and knowledge on brewing, the beer industry, and hops and other things in general. There is a ton of information on the breweries she’s visited as well, small details like the beers they have, or the information on how they restored the buildings they occupied, or little bits and info on the brewers or their styles.
The book is filled with pictures and images from all assortments of things, like hops, to the various breweries, to beer, to the workers at the breweries, to signs, to locations, etc. These pictures help fill in an overall image and idea of the breweries from across the state for those who haven’t gotten to visit them yet. Also with each brewery mentioned there is a small map of Pennsylvania showing where its located with an actual address as well. Its not a complete map of every brewery, and Dr. Feeney even states at the beginning that she isn’t providing a comprehensive listing of every brewery in PA as it’d be out of date before the book even saw print. Case in point – the book mentions Harty Brewing which has since folded up (relatively recently). But don’t let that fool you, this book is chock full of information and knowledge about PA beer and breweries.
At the beginning of the book is a note saying that a portion of the proceeds of the book are going to animal shelters and local places for animals. After this is the chapter previews which list which breweries are mentioned in which chapters and provides an outline for the book. Early chapters discuss beer and the history of it, progressing from Europe and Africa and Asia to America. Detailing the early pioneers to America and bringing beer over on the Mayflower, etc. It then discusses the history of beer and brewing in Pennsylvania.
Following this is how breweries affect communities, how they revitalize communities and buildings, and a chapter on historic buildings and how breweries are reusing old buildings. A chapter on the sustainability and environmental issues and help that breweries are doing and then a closing chapter on looking forward.
This book is a good read for anyone interested in beer, brewing, and especially for those interested in the craft breweries of Pennsylvania. She has provided lots of knowledge on the inner workings from the beginning to the present day on just about every tangential topic with the beer industry. I would certainly recommend this for anyone looking to learn about brewing and beer in Pennsylvania or just loves reading about breweries in Pennsylvania.
My GoodReads Score: ****
Global GoodReads Score: 4.00 (two ratings, three now, as of 10.9.19)
This was the first book review on the blog, hopefully you all like it, I know its a bit different then the beer and brewery reviews. But I am looking forward to doing a few more of these as I have a lot of beer books to read and go through. This is combining two of my loves – literature / books and beers, so this is definitely a double-win for me getting to review books about beer here for the blog. So if you are interested in this, let us know! Also if you have any beer book recommendations, be sure to leave them in the comments!
Thanks and cheers all!
My GoodReads review link can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3007622590