Today is a pretty cool column, as I catch up with an old, mentor-ish buddy of mine.
New York-based beer writer Joshua Bernstein recently released the 10th anniversary edition of his book, The Complete Beer Course, one of the books that helped me really dive into and learn about the world of beer when I was just getting started. Josh has since become a sounding board for me as I wrote my books about beer and he’s also been a vital source in some reporting I’ve done to cover the beer industry throughout the years, including in the pages of Grand Rapids Magazine and the Grand Rapids Business Journal.
Anyway, he basically had to rewrite his entire book because of how much the industry and beer has changed in the past decade, so that was interesting to hear about and he’s chugging along, making his way in the world as a beer writer – something many are likely envious of.
Pat: First of all, what’s it like getting asked to revise a book for a 10th anniversary? And what did the initial release mean to your career as a beer writer and what does this re-release mean now?
Josh: I’ve been writing professionally since 2000, and I rarely gaze backward at my previous work. I’m always looking forward to the next story. On one hand, I was psyched that something I wrote ten years ago was worth revisiting. As a writer, few stories or works stand the test of time. I was also terrified. Looking back at the past is to cringe at your mistakes, to second-guess the choices you made. But overall, I was excited to be able to revise and expand the book with all the knowledge and perspective I’ve gained in the last decade of writing about beer.
The initial release helped solidify my standing as a beer journalist and author. The second book is a testament to how far I’ve come as a writer, and how much the industry has changed in the last decade. We’re both in totally different places! I mean, I wasn’t yet a dad when the first edition came out. Now my daughter, Violet, is nearly 10 years old.
Pat: What kind of things did you have to update?
Josh: When I signed the contract in 2019 to update the book, my publishers thought I’d just have to update a few pictures, maybe swap out some beers and add some new profiles. But then along came 2020 and the entire world changed, beer included. I paused the update for about a year. When I picked it up again in 2021, I realized I needed to rethink everything. We were no longer going to beer festivals, and who knew what bars and restaurants would survive.
So I rethought the entire book to reflect our new evolving reality. I added new styles like the hazy IPA and pastry stout, deepened and modernized the history of other styles, and added new profiles on people that work in the brewing industry. Instead of just focusing on the accomplishments of brewmasters, I wanted to shine a light on the packaging line operators, label illustrators, and sales reps that drive the industry. The original edition has 95,000 words, and the new edition has 125,000 words. Most every single page was updated, as was all the design. The result is an entirely new book built from the scaffolding and structure of the previous edition.
Pat: What’s in the works next, what can your fans, like me, look forward to next?
Josh: I’m going to cool my heels on writing another beer book. I’ve written six beer books in 12 years, which is a sentence I never thought I’d say. It’s been a wild ride through beer journalism over the last decade. Going forward, I’m looking to write stories that go beyond the liquid. Where is craft beer intersecting with culture? How are farmers and researchers looking to safeguard crops and raw materials against an unsettled climate? What are taprooms doing to become essential hubs in communities across the country? What will breweries ferment next? The future of beer is still waiting to be written.
N/A Beverage Time
In the summer, my wife loves sipping on Aperol Spritzes. This summer, we’ve been more conscious of our alcohol consumption and so it was great to find an alternative.
It is, in fact, called Ritual Zero Proof’s Apertif Alt. The brand also includes N/A gin, whiskey, tequila and rum, but for this we’ll focus on the Aperol alternative which comes with a nice bitterness.
It can be used as an Aperol substitute in a spritz to make it less boozy, or simply mix it with a quality soda and, boom, a refreshing cocktail substitute that is remarkably reminiscent of the real thing.
A few things to try
If you see these beverages out in the wild, give them a whirl.
First up is a great hydration option: 100 Coconuts. It’s pure coconut water and tastes incredible while being packed in electrolytes. The brand has expanded a lot recently, including a hard version, Coconut Water and Tequila, as well as two fruit flavors, and a CBD version. 100 Coconuts has grown more than 400% in 2022 and can be found in 15,000 stores, including Target and Amazon.
Koe Kombucha has also been a welcomed addition to our fridge this spring, and is way more fruit forward than I’ve seen in some kombuchas.
My wife has been exploring with mezcal a lot this summer and one of her go-tos has been Mezcal Campante, so that’s been fun to sip on. The brand has a simple marg recipe that is a great way to try it out:
- 2 oz Mezcal Campante
- 1 oz triple sec
- 1.5 oz lime juice
I’ve also been having some sore shoulder issues and recently tried some THC/CBD cream on it from Escape Artists. The topicals are great, including a 1:1 CBD:THC and 20:1 CBD:THC blends, and they smell decent as well, not crazy menthol like the good ol’ Icy Hot. The creams are available at Michigan dispensaries and start at $13. And no, they don’t give you a buzz.