Ahead of his time.

The book has been floating around the Beer Yard “office” (if you’ve ever peeked in there, you’ll know why the quote marks) since I started my indentured servitude there all too many years ago, sometimes turning up in a drawer here or under a pile of papers there: Brewery Adventures in the Big East by Jack Erickson.

Last week, anticipating too much free time during the holidays, I brought it home with me and started reading through it. The book was published in 1994 and is part of a self-published series which began with Brewery Adventures in the Wild West and continued with California Brewin’ (1991 and 1993 respectively).  It was, as best I know at the moment, Erickson’s  last beer book. He had previously published  Star Spangled Beer: a Guide to America’s New Microbreweries and Brewpubs (1987) and Great Cooking with Beer (1989).

Consider those dates. The man was writing about craft beer in this country as early as 1987 and calling it craft beer to boot. He explains his thinking in the introduction book I have in hand: “I prefer the term ‘craft’ breweries because it describes how and what they brew.” And he invented the “Big East” before any athletic department even dreamed of the possibilities. And he devoted a whole book to the topic of beer and food two long decades ago.

After the book’s opening chapters on the development of the craft beer movement on the East Coast (51 pages), the remaining 149 pages follow the format of Lew Bryson’s beer guides, short write-ups on breweries and brewpubs in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the South, some long forgotten, some still going strong. Half the fun is just seeing–and remembering–who was brewing where and what in those days.

I’ll be writing about some of that in future posts after I learn more about Erickson’s RedBrick Press. I am in contact with him (he quit the beer writing gig in 1997 and is working in the financial industry in Palo Alto, California and writing mystery fiction) and we will be talking later this week.  Whether we will talk about beer writing or mystery writing remains to be seen.

Seriously, I am really hoping he has a copy of Star Spangled Beer I can purchase rather than picking one up on Amazon. I gotta believe it would make for some fascinating reading.

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