Book Review: Brewing Local by Stan Hieronymus

Brewing Local by Hieronymus.jpgFirst off, thank you to the Brewers Association for sending me a copy of this great publication to review; I truly appreciate it! Secondly, breaking news, I do read actual books! I know in this day and age people think that publications are obsolete, however, I still completely enjoy the advantages of having a physical book, namely, you don’t have to worry about a battery running out, the flight attendant can’t make you turn it off, you can bend the corner of pages you want to review in the future, and you can add notes in the margins if you want. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s the official info for this book:

Brewing Local: American-grown beer by Stan Hieronymus
Published by the Brewers Publications (a division of the Brewers Association)

As an indie beer geek I get totally excited by certain things in the industry. Creativity, entrepreneurship, originality, connecting with your locality, and fearlessness are key traits that lead us to the current success. Simply the title of this book peaked my interest and then I noticed the foreword was by Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, which only increased my enthusiasm. By the time I closed the book, my ebullience was clearly justified. Side note: I read the book on the plane ride home from a New Jersey trip, fresh off a visit to both the Dogfish Head brewery and pub, if you have the means to visit either or both, I highly recommend you go; it was a wonderful experience and it emphasized my enjoyment of Sam’s writing.

Brewing Local begins with a notion I’ve long touted, it’s important to be a local brewery. This is an idea that’s debated a lot within the craft world, how local does local really mean? Is it a physical distance issue? Yes, when I speak of supporting your local breweries, I am saying to patronize the breweries that are close to you. Combined with that I also feel, and the sentiment comes through in this book, that if the brewery’s intentions, ingredients, processes, and people are all focused on making products that can convey a sense of your region or locality to the end consumer you have successfully captured the idea of brewing local.

Moving forward into the heart of the book you’ll find chapters covering the early history on American brewers; a part of the book I found particularly interesting. From native American fermented beverages like tiswin to colonial beers to pre-prohibtion common beers and lagers, Stan’s writing keeps the pages turning and is easy to comprehend.

Deeper in you’ll be regaled with the tales of many breweries that are leading the way in what brewing local means today, and will in the near future. I am seriously impressed with Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville, Louisiana. I had no knowledge of this brewery prior to reading the book, but am seriously fascinated with their grounds. They constructed a 3 marsh system to reclaim the waste water from brewing naturally. The solid waste and water starts in a swamp, then transfers to a marsh full of native plants, and then the clean water filters into a pond full of crawfish they raise in tandem with brewing. This model of a brewery feeding an ecosystem is something I have thought about before but did not know already existed, kudos to Bayou Teche!

If there is one passage that I feel sums up the message of Brewing Local it is this quote from Bob Kunz, founder of Highland Park Brewing:

“I’ve moved toward doing an open call with our neighborhood,” he said. It started when he made a beer with lemons. “Afterwards, somebody tells me, ‘I have these awesome lemon trees in our backyard.'” Kunz believes drinkers notice the difference between “commodity ingredients” and those that are local. “It gives you a sense of place. It makes us authentic to our neighborhood,” he said. “It is important that you know it is unique to that street. We’re still small enough we can utilize the landscape around us.”

This book is full of great resources for brewers (professional and home alike) as well, how to forage for ingredients like plants, trees, berries, and yeast. It includes an entire section of traditional and non traditional ingredients and how to utilize them to attain different flavor profiles. There’s more than 20 recipes to guide you along the path of brewing with local and foraged ingredients should you choose to take that step.

Thank you to Stan Hieronymus for tackling such a giant subject and putting together a well written, enjoyable publication, packed with useful, tangible information, to not only support the current environment of brewing local but also to push it forward into the future!

I’m going to bring this to a close with one simple statement, buy this book!

Here’s the official press release:

Brewers Publications Presents

Brewing Local: American-Grown Beer

A Guide to Exploring Local Flavor Using Cultivated and Foraged Ingredients by Stan Hieronymus; Foreword by Dogfish Head Founder Sam Calagione

Boulder, CO • August 25, 2016—The growing hunger for locally sourced food is not a trend that has been blind to beverages, beer included. And while Americans have brewed beers using native ingredients since pre-Columbian times, a new wave of brewers has always been at the forefront of the locavore movement. The latest release from Brewers Publications, Brewing Local: American-Grown Beer by Stan Hieronymus, introduces brewers and drinkers to the ways herbs, flowers, plants, trees, nuts and shrubs flavor distinctive beers. The foreword is delivered by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery founder Sam Calagione, a longtime enthusiast for using local and unique ingredients in beer.

Brewers use locally-grown, traditional ingredients as well as cultivated and foraged flora to produce beers that capture the essence of the place they were made. In Brewing Local, Hieronymus examines the history of how distinctly American beers came about, visits farm breweries, and goes foraging for both plants and yeast to discover how brewers are using novel ingredients to create distinctive beers.

“No one writing about beer brings as much insight, detail or revelation to the subject as Stan Hieronymus, and Brewing Local may be his best work to date,” said Jeff Alworth, author, The Beer Bible. “Ostensibly directed at brewers looking to bring a little local flair into their beer (which it delivers, in spades), it accomplishes something more profound. By connecting beer to place and time, Hieronymus reintroduces us to this beverage we think we know so well. It’s one of the few books with the capacity to make you think anew about beer.”

“You could be happy just buying it [Brewing Local] for the valuable information on a wide range of unusual botanicals and how to use them in beer,” said Randy Mosher, author, Tasting Beer. “But once you start reading, you get swept away on an unexpected journey, ultimately ending up deep inside the minds of people doing some of the most exciting things in beer today.”

Hieronymus is a professional journalist and amateur brewer who has made beer his beat since 1993. The author of hundreds of articles for periodicals and editor at, Hieronymus wrote Brew like a Monk (2005), Brewing with Wheat (2010) and For the Love of Hops (2012) for Brewers Publications and has contributed to several other publications, including 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die. His travels have taken him to breweries in every state in the U.S. as well as behind the scenes in internationally famous breweries such as De Sint-Sixtusadij Westvleterten and Private Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn.

Brewers Publications supports the mission of the Brewers Association by publishing books of enduring value for amateur and professional brewers as well as titles that promote understanding and appreciation of American craft beer. With over 50 titles to choose from, it’s the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers, homebrewers and beer enthusiasts.

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