What's in a Beer?
Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying: “Beer is proof that God loves and wants us to be happy.” It is a good story even if it may not be true. I am happy with the rise of microbrews and craft breweries, favoring hoppy ales or IPAs over the typical American lagers. Not surprisingly (since we cover almost everything) we have books on beer (not to mention wine and other spirits) in the library’s collection.
My Google Maps search shows four breweries in the Winchester area that continue to serve the community despite current conditions and I am sure our local breweries would appreciate our continued support. But if you have ever thought about trying to brew your own beer, we have some titles to get you started (But don't forget to keep supporting our local breweries & ciderworks too!):
The Complete Homebrew Beer Book, Beer Craft: A Simple Guide to Making Great Beer, Craft Beer for the Homebrewer: Recipes from America's Top Brewmasters, and How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time
If you're not planning to brew your own beer but still find the topic interesting then you might enjoy the DVD of The American Brew: the Rich and Surprising History of Beer, or the book Drinking with Men for a look at bar culture. I can recommend The Lager Queen of Minnesota, for some fiction with a beer brewing component, available as a book on CD.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of Prohibition. You may remember our display in the Bowman lobby on this topic, pre-pandemic. A few titles about this intriguing time in our nation’s history are: Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America, The Bourbon King: The Life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition's Evil Genius,. Prohibition and Bootleg : Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition. The TV series Boardwalk Empire (based on the book by John Nelson) comes highly recommended as a look into this era. There does seem to be lessons that can be learned from this chapter in American History.
Perhaps your interest is more expansive, general, or health conscious? In The Drunken Botanist, author Amy Stewart chronicles “the dizzying array of herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that humans have, through ingenuity, inspiration, and sheer desperation, contrived to transform into alcohol over the centuries”. In the book Proof: The Science of Booze author Adam Rogers explores the processes of creating alcohol such as fermentation, distillation and aging, along with other topics. Alcohol is not likely to be recommended by nutritionists but there are some health benefits to light consumption. The Science of Drinking: How Alcohol Affects Your Body and Mind is a science-based book on the effects of alcohol consumption. It cites hundreds of studies and is full of facts, but it's organized to allow you to find topics most relevant to your interests. The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison, is a personal story of her own addiction and recovery that includes a cultural and literary context. Buzzed The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy is recently published, with current information on the effects of drugs on the human body and on human behavior.
Despite the joy of a cold beer on a hot day, alcohol has its dark side. Alcoholism is a serious disease affecting millions of Americans. If you or someone you know needs help with substance abuse there are resources available: A few of them are: the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon for family members or friends of people suffering from substance abuse. For data and statistics on alcohol abuse the National Institute of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism offers brochures, fact sheets, presentations and video-casts. If you chose to drink alcohol, then please drink responsibly and in moderation.