Book Review: Locally Brewed
In Locally Brewed: Portraits of Craft Breweries from America’s Heartland, author Anna Blessing blends beautiful photography with insightful, interesting narrative to illustrate twenty different US craft breweries.
The selection of breweries was limited to the Midwest with likely suspects intermingled with some lesser known gems. The book covers powerhouses like Founders, quirky fan-favorites like Three Floyds and even tiny upstarts like Steel Toe.
The book is arranged chronologically, with the oldest brewery, August Shell (est 1860), first and the newest, Moody Tongue (est. 2013), listed last. Each brewery is given a chapter which includes several pages of bleeding edge photographs and a text overview providing information about the founders, an origin story and a description of their beers.
Each brewer is also provided a playlist box, where they list their favorite songs. This sort of offbeat inclusion means the book sometimes reads more like a teen fanzine than a serious study of breweries; but ultimately I think that’s a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with getting a little silly about your favorite beer maker.
The photography is gorgeous. It is given showcase treatment with luscious full-page spreads and interwoven grids which eloquently break up the text. There is a common aesthetic throughout with Blessing’s photography which uses a stimulating muted palette and creative use of focus. As someone who visits (and photographs) breweries with regularity, I found her artistic eye to be inspiring.
The brewery overviews are succinct but engaging. I learned new things about breweries I thought I knew well and was exposed to upstart brewers that have piqued my interest.
The format of the book is very approachable as a perfect-bound softcover with a matte cover and interior pages. The color representation is good with moderate amounts of depth to the photographs and crisp, legible text. It doesn’t feel too precious; but at the same time gives the subject an adequate degree of importance.
Locally Brewed: Portraits of Craft Breweries from America’s Heartland gets a solid recommendation for fans of the Midwest breweries included or for those needing help planning a craft beer road trip.