So I’ve been checking out a new beer book that was just released.
I know what you’re thinking: what, another beer book? As much as you enjoy all the information some of the others have imparted, you might also be thinking: is this one so serious it takes the fun out of your favorite beverage?
No, and no. “The Comic Book Story Of Beer” (Penguin Random House, $18.99) is a very clever approach to telling beer’s role in world history. It’s written by Jonathan Hennessey and Mike Smith and illustrated by Aaron McConnell, who tell us that this is the first non-fiction graphic novel on beer. (I believe them.)
If you are familiar with the graphic novel world, you might remember Hennessey and McConnell’s work on “The U.S. Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation” and “The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation.”Smith has spent the last two decades working in breweries. We’ve got a good team brewing here. (Ugh, I couldn’t stop myself from writing that weak pun.)
But don’t think just because it’s in comic book style this book is a lightweight. On the contrary; I was pretty impressed at how much history was packed into its 180 pages. I mean, they start us all the way back at 7000 B.C. and bring us up to today’s explosion of craft breweries, a recent phenomenon. (Did you realize that as recently as 1979, there were only 44 breweries in the entire United States? Yep; I learned that in “The Comic Book Story of Beer.” When you think of that number and what’s happening right now with the growth of the industry is downright amazing.)
There’s all sorts of interesting factoids and they’re offered up in a very approachable, breezy style. The authors tell us that globally people drink more beer than coffee, wine and even Coca-Cola. How about that? And we learn things like how cutthroat the competition can be when we hear how two brewers smuggled out beer and wort samples in hollowed-out walking canes to figure out why people so loved the Burton-On-Trent brew.
The illustrations are just great, too. All sorts of little details are included. And the facial expressions! Check out the pleasure captured on Czar Peter I of Russia’s face when he discovers a brew he really likes. (Probably will remind you of your own expression when coming upon a new favorite.)
The creators are on the road right now, talking about their book and beer. They’re making a stop in Chicago this weekend. Come by Beermiscuous Craft Beer Cafe (2812 N. Lincoln) between 3 and 5 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 3) to meet them, get the book signed and of course, have a beer.
(If you’re wondering what other cities they’ll be stopping in, look here.)