How I Spent My Summer Vacation

DIYBeerBrewingIn the words of one Mr. John, the Bitch is Back!

Seriously though, while I appreciate the concern some loyal followers had for me during my unintended hiatus, I’ve been really busy. That’s an excuse, and I’m hoping to get back into a rhythm now that it’s less than 90 degrees in my writing space (i.e. an unairconditioned apartment in Brooklyn).

Among my greater accomplishments this summer:

  1. I went to Asheville, a great beer town; I am pretty sure I’ve found my retirement spot, which is either in the city or slightly west in the Hendersonville area. (Expect a blog update soon, which I will link back to here.)
  2. I went to the Adirondacks (a mixed blessing of a trip, but some very cool beer happenings happening… again, will try to have a post very soon).
  3. I wrote a book! My DIY Beer Brewing book is now available for purchase (more on this below).
  4. I got a belligerent adolescent boy to do copious amounts of homework.
  5. I helped judge the third-annual North American Guild of Beer Writers Writing Awards.

I also completed many paid-for blog posts and dealt with the ongoing evolution of my grown daughter (dissed by a studio, finding first love, getting interest from a new studio, preparing to graduate college… it’s a marathon, not a sprint, apparently!). Not to mention my own evolution (I ain’t dead yet).

But this post here today is about my new book! More than a year ago, I was asked to ghost write a homebrew book. It was extensive and I put in a great many hours. It wasn’t the first book I’ve ghost written, so when I completed the work, I cashed the check and moved on. After a few months, there were a few editorial updates which I completed somewhat grudgingly (by that point, I had new deadlines to fulfill). Then, nothing. I rarely search for my ghost writing; I figure once it’s out of my hands, it’s out of my thoughts.

Fast-forward to this spring, when a new publisher (Rockwood Press) had taken over the project from the old publisher (which never published the original book). They wanted to streamline considerably what I had written and asked me to do extensive rewrites. I complied… and cashed the check. Pretty soon thereafter, lots of editorial activity. Soon, it appeared that this book was actually going to print, with daily check-ins from graphic designers and clarifications on a few of my sidebars. I pitched in and worked through weekends (for no additional pay, I might add). I did so because it’s in my nature to do good work. Maybe that’s why I tend to be broke all the time!

Then I received an innocuous, brief email from the publisher: “Would you like accreditation?”

That was the entirety of the email. I thought, “Whoa! Are you giving me an author credit?!?” What I wrote was, “If you’re offering me an author credit, then, yes. Thank you.”

So, my long journey to my first beer book has come to an end. It’s a very well put together book, if I do say so myself. It’s definitely for the new homebrewer or possibly for a former homebrewer in need of a refresher course. The graphics bring my text to life, and the design team did a great job with the layout. If you want to show me some love, buy it here (and if you purchase on a Kindle—I cannot vouch for the quality of the layout/design elements on an e-reader—please be sure to scroll through to the end, as that’s how Amazon now determines sales for payment). I don’t get royalties, so there’s nothing monetary in it for me at this point. But I’d love for this book to be a success and to read a few reviews on the website. It’s also available through other major publishing platforms: Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo.

Thanks for your support, and happy homebrewing this fall!

Been Thinking About Homebrewing? No More Excuses With D-I-Y In-Loft Class

2s-2There are typically three kinds of craft beer lovers:

  1. Those who brew;
  2. Those who don’t brew;
  3. Those who would like to brew but don’t because of [insert relevant “good excuse” here]

If you’re like me, you fall into the third category. I’ve brewed beer, but I never really got into it for three main reasons:

  1. Unlike many New Yorkers, I cook most of the meals for me and my family, and brewing beer is just more cooking.
  2. Like many single parents, I do nearly all the cleaning, and brewing beer is just more cleaning.
  3. As a typical Brooklyn resident, I have a small kitchen and almost no storage space, so I cannot possibly fathom brewing beer at home.

When I brewed beer, it was at Bitter & Esters, which solved all three of the above excuses but isn’t particularly convenient, as I don’t live anywhere near its Prospect Heights location (nor near easy transit to get there). And when it comes to a typically crazy NYC life, convenience is probably the umbrella excuse for why many of us who would like to brew never really get around to brewing.

Well, as if answering a prayer, the great owner/brewers behind Brooklyn Brew Shop, Erica Shea and Stephen Valand, are hosting a Beer Making Class on Wednesday, May 28th, and they’re using a regular stove top just like you would in your own apartment! Now you, too, can learn from some of the best brew peeps (they recently started selling their beers in small batches, collaborating with 508 Gastrobrewery) and actually see how to brew in a typical Brooklyn space.

Not sure how to keep your equipment sterile when you have cats? I’m guessing they’ll help you out with that. How to cool your wort in the world’s smallest sink? I’ll bet they have a bathtub/shower solution for your problem. Afraid you’ll have to hire a personal arranger specialist just to find a safe place to store your bottles while they ferment? If anyone can solve your most aggrieved apartment issues, it’s gonna be Erica and Stephen.

While there are lots of “Beer 101” classes available, this is one of the first I’ve seen that addresses brewing in an authentic living space. If you have brewed before or not, there will be a bunch of cool people checking out this class, enjoying some Brooklyn Brew Shop beers (they’ll be pouring Strawberry Rhubarb Strong Ale and Six Hop IPA), eating snacks, and mingling with other beer-loving folks.

Oh, and did I mention that for $40 they’ll even throw in a copy of their new book? You’ll leave with a head full of stove-top brew-making knowledge, a full belly of food and beer, and your very own signed copy of Make Some Beer: Small-Batch Recipes from Brooklyn to Bamberg. The book features more than 30 original recipes inspired by the couple’s travels to popular craft breweries from all over the world, including Goose Island in Chicago, Ommegang and Brooklyn Brewery in New York, Ranger Creek in Texas, and many more.


Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Class
Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 (7:30 PM – 9:00 PM) – $40 ticket here
Address will be sent upon purchase.

Hope to see you there!