Whilst attending this year’s annual State College Brew Expo I was going from booth-to-booth sampling different pours from the various breweries and came across a table by The Nittany Valley Society. On it were some books with a tall gentleman signing them for different people. I picked up one of the books titled ‘The Birth of the Craft Brew Revolution’. After turning it over I recognised the picture of the author to be the person standing next to me – Ben Novak.
After browsing through the book I had a pleasant conversation with Ben and after a few minutes of talking and snapping a photo I left with a signed copy of the book to review…
Although Dr. Ben Novak now resides in Florida, he is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and practised as a lawyer in Centre County for 30 years. Interestingly during the 1980’s he wrote a newspaper column every two weeks in the Centre Daily Times about Craft Beer.
The Foreword is written by Ken Hull who describes the story about how he was introduced to craft beer through an encounter with Ben and has since become the best of friends.
The Author’s Preface provides a brief history of beer and how the original explosion in the craft beer industry came about in the 1980’s following the post-prohibition mass consolidation of breweries.
The Introduction covers how his bi-weekly newspaper column came to fruition to compliment, yet contrast with, the existing column about wine that was running every two weeks. Ben talks about how he used new terminology combined with an element of humour to shape the articles and generate a following.
The remainder and bulk of the book reads like 60+ short stories with each having their own chapter. These cover a vast array of subject matters such as:
- Different beer types.
- Head retention.
- Beer styles e.g. Porter, IPA.
- Seasonal beers such as Fall & Christmas specials.
- Macro beer producers like Anheuser-Busch.
- Craft beer pioneers such as Sierra Nevada Brewing and Anchor Brewing on the west coast.
- Competitions and festivals like the Great American Beer Festival (GABF).
- International beers from countries such as Germany and Great Britain.
- Historical beer styles.
- Beer enthusiasts and experts such as Michael Jackson.
- Local beers and breweries such as Iron City from Pittsburgh, PA.
- The local beer scene within State College and how craft beer is perceived in a large university town.
This book is an interesting read and provides an insight into how the Craft Beer scene grew and developed 30 years ago which is an interesting contrast to the almost exponential growth that we are enjoying currently not only in North American but also in South America and across Europe.
For further details on this book and to obtain your own copy in paperback or electronic form in Kindle, Nook or iBook format please visit The Nittany Valley Society.