Friday, December 9, 2011

Ohio Breweries: Book Review

Ohio Breweries, by Rick Armon, is the latest addition to Stackpole Books’ Breweries Series that features, most famously, several works by Lew Bryson. And like Bryson’s books, this one is a nice asset for those who want a quick and useful reference guide to the breweries in Ohio. Its strengths include clear organization and helpful information: it provides all the details for when and where to go, as well as how to contact the necessary people. Additionally, many of the stories about individual brewers and breweries regarding their start in the business are interesting and told with an eye for the story—I am now much more interested in visiting Rust Belt, Indigo Imp, and a couple of the Erie Island breweries via the personal experiences Rick describes in the entries for those breweries. Rick’s book also includes some details I didn’t know, like that Ohio is “one of the largest beer-producing states in the nation,” ranking “in the top five” in terms of overall production (5). This is especially hard to take living in Dayton, which currently has no local beer production—Wooden Shoe and Rivertown are both far enough away to make Tom a very sad boy.

The weaknesses are few, but I feel compelled to mention them. The self-referential Cleveland in-jokes feel forced: “Let’s dispense with the Cleveland jokes. No humorous elbows about the ‘Mistake on the Lake’ or the burning Cuyahoga River or anything like that” (17). This assumes a familiarity with the area and the jokes describing that area that I don’t have, creating an effect that felt mainly off-putting. And they continued. As well, in a book that relies on a craft beer drinking audience, he fawns a bit too much over Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors. Sure, “Ohioans love Anheuser-Busch” (7-8), but all those Bud Light drinkers ain’t buying your book. Finally, he notes that “Columbus finally got its first major professional sports franchise in 2000 when the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team arrived,” and then continues one paragraph later that “the city also has been home to Major League Soccer since the mid-1990s” (83). Ouch! Calling hockey the “first major professional sports franchise” in Columbus means one of two things: either you hate soccer or you have an over-inflated sense of the relevance of hockey. Neither of which, might I add, is good. Oh, and he also quotes Casey McAdams, which means I’ll have to hear about that for the rest of my god-damn life. But that’s more a personal problem than a flaw on Rick’s part. Still, regardless of few downsides, it is a useful reference guide for the breweries around the state—I’ll be taking it with me the next time I head north to Akron and Cleveland.

See also Alan McLeod’s review. Check-it-check-it out.


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