Let Us Now Praise . . . All About Beer Magazine

In the general weirdness of things: Yesterday I decided to write this blog post, only to wake up this morning to still more evidence of the point I want to make. Because that’s how the cosmos rolls….


I write now to praise (and thank) the folks at All About Beer magazine for investing resources (read: money) in historical coverage. 

Random photo series 2015

Random photo series 2015

AAB has been around since the 1970s, reporting and recording beer culture in its many manifestations (because back in the ‘70s, American beer culture was, um, different than it is now). In the past two (I think) years, AAB has undergone two significant changes: First, a new editor, John Holl, came on board. Second, Chris Rice bought the magazine and so became its new publisher. (1)

Changes in a magazine's leadership typically go unnoticed by readers. In this case, however, the changes have been dramatic and, in my opinion, for the better. Holl and Rice beefed up the magazine’s website, for example, and, as important, recruited a new generation of beer writers to cover the industry.

What I’ve most appreciated, however, is AAB’s commitment to documenting and sharing the history of the “craft beer” moment. (The phrase is in quotes because I’ve lost track of what we’re now calling the Small/Pure/Other Beer Industry.)

random photo series 2015

random photo series 2015

For example, nearly every issue of AAB now includes essays by Tom Acitelli, the author of The Audacity of Hops: The History of America's Craft Beer Revolution, the first (and thus far only) history of the craft beer industry. (2) No surprise, Tom’s contributions to the magazine also focus on history. 

That doesn’t sound like much about which to get excited (let alone enough to draw me out of my cave), but people … it’s rare for a non-specialist magazine to pay homage and heed to history. I’m fucking thrilled to pieces by this. 

So: Cheers to Chris and John and Tom. (6) Sincere thanks for honoring the past and acknowledging its impact on the present.

[Full disclosure: I’ve met all three men and have written, occasionally, for AAB. This blog post has no connection to the magazine, nor will I earn anything from writing it.]

In which I explore the use of notes within notes within notes. Because, sigh, I’ve still not figured out how to write code for that “jump” thingie. 

1: What, you ask, is the difference between a publisher and an editor? The simplest explanation is that the publisher decrees; the editor executes. [And a “decree” can be anything from adhering to, say, a political stance to “do whatever you need to do to sell magazines without going broke.”] 

2: Tom’s book is first-rate; five thumbs up from me. Audacity is the book that I’d hoped and prayed someone would write (because, to be honest, I didn’t want to write it but felt a nearly moral obligation to do so if no one else stepped up to that particular plate). (3)

3: Its only flaw is that it contains a whole lotta what’s known as “insider baseball” material: content that only a geek/nerd could enjoy (or endure). That’s not a complaint. Indeed, I’m sympathetic to Tom’s decision to include said high balls and fly balls (or whatever; I don’t follow baseball). He knew that if he didn’t tell Story X, Story X might never get told. (4)

4: And if I were him, I’dve done the same thing. Indeed, I did: My editor wanted me to eliminate three sections from my own beer book on the grounds that they were too insider baseball. I conceded the point on one section, but refused to delete the others: I knew damn well that if I didn’t get that material in there, it might never see the light of day. (5)

5: For those who are interested, the three sections were: 1) a somewhat comical but fascinating tale of brewer conflict over how to handle the prohibitionists c. 1916. 2) the story of the short-lived, Massachusetts-based “real ale” organization. 3) the account of Jack McAuliffe’s contribution to brewing. I deleted number 1; retained numbers 2 and 3.

6: I see from Tom's site that he's got a new book out next month, this focusing on the (relatively) recent history of wine in the U.S.