Bars Across America: Drinking and Biking from Coast to Coast

August 29, 2010

This biking and boozing travelogue begins as author John Greenfield cracks open a PBR and his sometimes travelmate Elizabeth downs a Sierra Nevada at Don’s Beachcomber Tavern in Astoria, Oregon after the two cyclists had dipped their rides in the surf near the coastal town of Florence.

Forty seven bars, ten weeks, and more than 3,500 miles later, John dips his wheel in the Atlantic at Revere Beach in Massachusetts, and ends his alcoholic odyssey in the Shipwreck Lounge, a dive bar filled with friendly drunks who assert that they just do “the usual crap that gos on in any small town bar in the U.S.”

John’s trip is testament to the truth of that humble boast.

John’s taste in beer is decidedly equal opportunity, swaying with unpretentious ease from bottles of Bud Light purchased at a convenience store and consumed in a parking lot all the way to imperial pints of house-brewed E.S.B. sipped while seated at the bar of the Livery brewpub in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

John’s street cred is impeccable, both for his long devotion to bicycles as well as his cheerful championing of draught beer. Check out his VoteWithYourFeetChicago blog for more of the former and hook up with the Garfield Park Draught Beer Preservation Society for more of the latter.

Greenfield’s writing style is easy and entertaining, to be enjoyed over a draught at your local dive bar. Order a copy from your local bookstore or get it from any online retailer such as the independent

1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die

February 6, 2010

I wrote a handful of the entries in this new beer book, 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die. This thing is a monster encyclopedia of beer descriptions and beer porn (someone recently told me this term isn’t as intuitive as I thought it was – beer porn is pictures of beers that make the viewer drool with lust). My contributions include descriptions of Hakim Stout and Meta, both from Ethiopia, and iJuba sorghum beer from South Africa.

The book was compiled and edited by Adrian Tierney-Jones who, based on the editing he did on my reviews, is an excellent writer. His awards back up the claim. He is also the editor of the Brewer’s Herald, author of The Big Book of Beer, and blogger at

Bottoms Up: A People’s Guide to Beer

January 6, 2010

The poll results are in. And the critics (me, my publisher, and my co-author Ben Dangl) agree. The title of the next beer activist book will be Bottoms Up: A Peoples Guide to Beer. Look for a spring 2011 release.

Thanks to all 54 of you who voted and those of you who submitted your own original title concepts. Over the next year or so, I’ll be using the blog to work through ideas and content for the book. I look forward to hearing suggestions and feedback along the way.

Here’s the publishers description of the book:

A handful of global corporations sell most of the world’s beer. In fact, there is no longer a single major American-owned beer company in the U.S. The same is true in, well, almost every country. Yet in the past few decades, tens of thousands of beer drinkers around the world have started brewing their own beer, forming homebrewing clubs, and opening small scale breweries and neighborhood brewpubs. Although they produce a minor percentage of the world’s beer, these networks of small brewers have captured the imagination of countless beer drinkers, and caught the attention of their mega-brewer competitors.

Bottoms Up traces the path of how these beer activists have become a powerful force in shaping beer drinking culture and the contemporary beer industry. Along the way, readers learn the history of workers in the beer industry, how homebrewers and microbrewers are building community and fighting climate change, how “farmer brewers” are modeling sustainable agriculture, and how to homebrew and find the best, local, sustainable, worker-friendly beers.

The world is locked in epic battles: the local is jockeying for position in a global society, governments and NGOs are fighting to prevent imminent environmental collapse, and people are struggling for economic empowerment in a world dominated by corporations. Bottoms Up is a fun to read field guide on how to become one of the millions of beer activists fighting corporate power and environmental destruction while creating solutions that are as delicious and successful as they are radical and unexpected.

The publisher is PM Press, run by friend and fellow homebrewer (that’s how I get all my writing gigs!) Craig O’Hara, author of The Philosophy of Punk, and his pal Ramsey Kanaan, who also founded AK Press. And the cover art for the book is being confabulated by none other than John Yates, whose artwork has graced the albums of punk rock greats  such as the Dead Kennedys and Crass. He also owned punk music label Allied Recordings.

Needless to say, I’m in punk rock beer heaven right about now.


September 15, 2009

Jason Sahler is expanding the beer activism in New York City with his new SustainaBrew blog: The Sustainable Side of Beer.” Hey! I like the sounds of that.

destruise_blackalbert_240 Jason graduated from NYU with a B.A in Sustainable Development in 2007 and has been a fan of craft beer ever since going to Scotland where he first tasted what he calls “real” beer. He is a devout follower of small businesses and anything “slow.”

In evidence of the obvious overlapping interests between Beer Activist and Sustainabrew, Jason appears to have published a post (right as I am writing this) on the same exact topic I was just about to publish myself – about Novozyme, an enzyme claims to allow brewers to use whole barley grain rather than malt!

More on that here in a few minutes. Meanwhile, take a look at this post on Sustainabrew in which brewer Maggie Fuller recounts some of her less-than-appreciated encounters as a woman in the brewing industry.

The Baltimore Sun’s “Kasper On Tap” Beer Blog

April 22, 2009

kasperontapThe Baltimore Sun runs a regular beer column called Kasper On Tap. Last week’s column blogged about beer by blogging about me blogging about beer? Now I’m blogging about him blogging about me. When will this vicious circle of beer blogging end? Ball’s in your court Kasper.

Anyhoo, since he gave me a shout, I thought I’d do the same. Check out the Kasper On Tap column online here for regular updates on the Baltimore-Washington beer scene.

Washingtonian Beer Blogger Beat

September 3, 2008
Chris Leaman.

Hoisting a mild at Franklin's. Photo: Chris Leaman.

I met up with Emily Leaman, who pens the Blogger Beat for the Washingtonian, and her husband/photographer Chris Leaman, at the Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville, MD.

Today her interview with the Beer Activist (hey, that’s me!) appeared in the I think it turned out pretty nicely. The intro is below. Just click at the bottom to have a look-see at the whole story.

This week, for our Wednesday blogger fix, we knock back a few cold ones with beer blogger Chris O’Brien, local author and beer activist.

Silver Spring author and blogger Chris O’Brien started the Beer Activist blog five years ago when he was living in Ethiopia and working on his book, Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World. He wanted a way to organize his thoughts about the environmental and social impacts of the corporate beer industry.

For his book, published in 2006, Chris traveled all over the world researching local brewing traditions, even working for a time as a brewer at the Zululand Brewing Company in Eshowe, South Africa. His conclusion: You can change the world by having a (locally brewed, organic) beer. He explains how and why below.

Read the whole story right here.

The Revolution Will Be Carbonated

August 3, 2008

(Joel Sparks wrote this piece about my revolution-fermenting ways for On Tap magazine. Joel is also a beer writer of sorts. He occasionally covers beer-related topics for On Tap but he has also written a full-length science fiction novel about a couple craft brewers. It’s called Ordobat’s Folly and you can read parts of it right here. Cool stuff! And he lives right here in my neighborhood in Silver Spring, MD. I met him when another neighbor invited me over to a Woodmoor Beer Appreciation Society club tasting – the Woodmoor folks are basically a bunch of neighbors with bars in their basements who hold formal sit-down tastings a few times a year. Silver Spring is growing on me!

This is just the intro. Click on the link at bottom to read the whole story.)

What’s Hoppening: Author Chris O’Brien
The revolution will be carbonated

written by Joel Sparks

When local writer Chris O’Brien was growing up in rural Pennsylvania, there were exactly two kinds of beer in town. You went into any bar and said either “lager” or “porter.” No need to specify brand, because the same giant, nationally known factory made both. O’Brien partially escaped from the shadow of industrial beer when he went off to college and grad school and became a home brewer, primarily to save money. Still, it wasn’t until he came to D.C. and a friend gave him a Tupper’s Hop Pocket Ale and told him a beer-loving Bethesda couple had created it that he knew what he wanted to do.

“I had been working to promote small, green businesses,” he recalled. “Suddenly I realized that microbreweries were the small, green businesses I wanted to help.”

So what did he do?

“I quit my job, sold my house, and moved to Ethiopia.”

Click here to read the whole story.


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