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The Brewer's Tale

A History of the World According to Beer
Narrated by: Christopher Sutton
Length: 8 hrs and 6 mins
Categories: History, World
4 out of 5 stars (18 ratings)

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Summary

Winner of 2014 US Gourmand Drinks Award

Taste 5,000 years of brewing history as a time-traveling home brewer rediscovers and re-creates the great beers of the past.

The Brewer's Tale is a beer-filled journey into the past: the story of brewers gone by and one brave writer's quest to bring them - and their ancient, forgotten beers - back to life, one taste at a time. This is the story of the world according to beer, a toast to flavors born of necessity and place - in Belgian monasteries, rundown farmhouses, and the basement nanobrewery next door. So pull up a barstool and raise a glass to 5,000 years of fermented magic.

Fueled by date-and-honey gruel, sour pediococcus-laced lambics, and all manner of beers between, William Bostwick's rollicking quest for the drink's origins takes him into the redwood forests of Sonoma County, to bullet-riddled South Boston brewpubs, and across the Atlantic, from Mesopotamian sands to medieval monasteries to British brewing factories. Bostwick compares notes with the Mt. Vernon historian in charge of preserving George Washington's molasses-based home brew, and he finds the ancestor of today's macrobrewed lagers in a nineteenth-century spy's hollowed-out walking stick.

Wrapped around this modern reportage are deeply informed tales of history's archetypal brewers: Babylonian temple workers, Nordic shamans, patriots, rebels, and monks. The Brewer's Tale unfurls from the ancient goddess Ninkasi, ruler of intoxication, to the cryptic beer hymns of the Rig Veda and down into the clove-scented treasure holds of India-bound sailing ships. With each discovery comes Bostwick's own turn at the brew pot, an exercise that honors the audacity and experimentation of the craft. A sticky English porter, a pricelessly rare Belgian, and a sacred, shamanic wormwood-tinged gruit each offer humble communion with the brewers of yore.

©2014 William Bostwick (P)2015 Audible Inc.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent.

An informative and interesting read. Highly recommended. Makes me want to go out and brew a historic beer!

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  • Michael
  • 08-03-16

Good insights!

Covers the history of beer and give information on certain types of beer (abbey, lambic, seasons, IPA..). It's well explained and very insightful.

If you're looking into specific techniques or technical information, I'd recommend YouTube videos. Else, this gives a good overall feel of brewing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 20-06-16

Great history of brewing for beer geeks

A well-written and fascinating tale looking back at how beer shaped so much of the world.

The history of beer evolution in England was particularly fascinating, especially the rise and fall of the porter and the influence pale ales had on the world.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • NRocky
  • 08-07-15

Fell asleep twice...

Overly descriptive to the point where you forget what the author is talking about. Too whimsical to follow. As a Homebrewer myself I thought this would be fascinating, but it's written and told more like a fairytale rather than a history book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Sam A. Havens
  • 17-04-15

Informative

I went into this hoping to learn a lot, and I did. The writing when he was describing the taste and production of beer was on point, but when he narrated and pontificated it felt sophomoric. Definitely worth a listen if you are a beer lover.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for August Lovegren
  • August Lovegren
  • 31-07-19

Great exploration from past to present

Bostwick is a gifted storyteller and dug deep on his research as well. Recommended for anyone wondering about the history of beer and especially for homebrewers. From ancient Egyptian and Norse grog and Belgian abbey ales to today's craft beer scene and the behemoths of mass lager production, it's a great survey of beer history. He even mentioned my personal brewing hero Stephen H. Buhner. Yet I'd say he exaggerates a bit to subtitle it "A History of the World according to Beer;" it's not THAT extensive.

I would have wished the book were longer if it weren't for a quirk of the narrator Christopher Sutton's pronunciation. He says /k/ and /g/ sounds like he's trying to dislodge a film of mucus from the roof of his mouth. At first it was kind of subtle and didn't bother me, but as the book went on I had to take breaks because that sound was getting on my nerves so much. But other listeners might not even notice it. My dad didn't.

All in all I loved this book and will probably order a paper-and-ink copy soon.

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  • Regina Szyszkiewicz
  • 05-01-19

Fantastic

One of my favorite history books ever. Easy to follow, yet filled with rich and interesting detail, A Brewer’s Tale is the perfect example of how history books should be written. There is serious and frequently quoted research based on primary sources interwoven with relevant ties to our modern day and age as well as a delightful and practical understanding of humanity as a whole. This book combined two of my favorite things (history and beer) and made me fall in love with both all over again.

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  • Sally Filler
  • 03-12-18

Probably better in print

So much detail and so many facts that this is a book likely better read than listened to.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-08-16

Hopping Hops

Bostwick tells a lot of the story of America beer, without chronology or causative order; too much jumping around, not coherent and cohesive reading .

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  • Jonathan
  • 23-04-16

San Diego Craft

In San Diego there are breweries everywhere and every time I listened to this book I would go to a brewery and try to taste the story.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Frank
  • 05-04-16

funny and thought provoking

I've listened to this twice. Will probably listen to it again. Great layout of story and love the fact that he rolls up his sleeves and tries to recreate ancient beers.