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Thursday, August 13, 2015

When the New Car Gets Its First Scratch

Owning a new car is pleasurable and exciting--but it comes with an undercurrent of anxiety. You see it sitting out there on the street, and it looks like a magnet for mayhem. Anything could happen to it. You find yourself watching over it like a hen minds her eggs. Eventually, though, something does happen--a rock chips the paint, someone rams it with a shopping cart, you spill coffee over the front seat--and the bubble of anxiety bursts. The scratch allows you to move along.

After a week of extremely nice reviews (please look at Brian Yaeger's post in the Portland Mercury; this piece at the UW student newspaper is also great), I've gotten my first pan. A "sad rehashing of previous efforts." Ouch! More:
While Alworth lists Portland, Oregon as his residence his selection of beers in the "Beers to Know" listings is a bizarre collection seemingly devoid of any concern to the availability of the beer and its contribution to the brewing art. Alworth's book, in my view, is a classic example of "all form and little substance". Garrett Oliver's "Oxford Companion to Beer" is a much better reference both with respect to the history of brewing and the actual brewing process. While the book carries a 2015 copyright date, the Acknowledgements were written in May of 2013. His information on Trappist Beers is missing the last three brweries added to the group which occured in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
It's a nice, bracing critique, and not without merit. He's exactly right about the timeliness business, an issue that pains me greatly but which I had no control to change. I think he's less accurate on the "beers to know," which were selected primarily for their availability. (It's not just a collection of "ghost" beers only hardcore fans ever see. I chose among those readily available so that, no matter where you lived in the country, you'd have at least one typical example of the beer in question to try.) Whether Oxford Companion is a better source I shall defer to readers.

It gives me an opportunity to encourage/ask folks to review the book on Amazon once you've had a chance to look through it. I trust the wisdom of the masses, and hive mind always renders a judicious verdict. When there are only a couple reviews up, negative ones exercise quite a bit of sway. I hope his will not be the definitive position (though that's always possible!). So, if you're inclined give it a review.

I do welcome your feedback. Believe it or not, negative comments aren't the worst thing to a writer--silence is. So comment away!


  1. It's funny, the other night at the book signing there was a nice accident out in front of Belmont Station. For a second I thought this had something to do with it.

    I look at things like, it may not be groundbreaking, but it's a concise and easy to read compendium (so far) whatever your level of interest is. For advanced beer geeks it may not hold a lot of new info but it'll still be nice to have on hand for those little arguments you get into about style and history. I mean, I get into, lol.

  2. I love Brian's Gideon Bible idea. Beyond the issues associated with timing, which are poor but were out of your control, I don't think that complains on Amazon are valid. In actual fact, this is the perfect book for the modern beer crowd, a crowd that tends to consume information in small chunks.I expect to see many more positive reviews than negative ones.Don't worry too much about a scratch here and there.

  3. First of all, you are absolutely right about that new car feel. Whenever I've had a new car, I dread the inevitable day when that first scratch or ding comes. It's the absolute worst feeling. The Beer Bible looks like a great read - and a great coffee table book. I'm definitely ordering a copy today.

    Domingo @ Viva Ford