Book Review: Fermenting Revolution

I just sat down with a  Poleeko Gold Pale Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company to finish reading “Fermenting Revolution” by Christopher O’Brien.

What have I learned from this book?  Well let me tell you.  First, I had no idea that Lost Coast had two women brewers in charge!  So AWESOME!  Their names are Barbara Groom and Wendy Pound and they are my heroes.  I’ve only had the snark-ily labeled Indica, which is what comes to mind for me (and I know for sure others) when they have a really funky IPA.  I will be sampling more of their catalog later!  I learned from this book that in the early days of brewing, women comprised the bulk of brewers, and it did not become a boy’s club until the industrial revolution.  If that information is tipped and is just pandering to me because I am a woman with a taste for ales and lagers, I’ll TAKE it!!

I also learned some fun trivia such as a legend recorded by Robert Louis Stevenson about the Pict’s fierce guardianship of the recipe for Heather Ale.  Now that’s a thing I’d like to taste!  I also learned a lot about pesticides and a lot about the ways that brewers–particularly craft brewers–are creating environmentally sustainable businesses.  It even comes with a handy guide at the back of the book on being a “Beer Activist–what he calls a Twenty-four Point Action Plan that includes simple tasks like taking cloth bags along to the store, buying kegs rather than bottles, composting your six-pack packaging and lowering the temperature in your refrigerator.  It seems to be things that are only applicable to those who drink beer habitually (I do, and he assumes the reader does), however with a little creativity, they can be applied to different aspects of one’s life.

Tonally this book is slightly forced, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.  What I interpret O’Brien as attempting here is to look at overwhelming themes such as corporate monopolies and injustice, loss of craftsmanship and locality, environmental blunders and health through the lens of something intensely pleasurable: beer.  And not only craft beer!  Coors and Anheuser Busch get their say as well!  Everyone is invited!

I’m pleased with this book and it has inspired me to get out the carboy and get my brew on.  This last weekend involved staying close to home after a long business trip so I didn’t get my ingredients yet.  So when I go buy ingredients for the first batch, what type of beer should I buy ingredients foooor?