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!

Hanging in Portland With the Beer Bloggers

20130725_220031For only the second time in my life, I find myself in Maine.

My first trip here was at least two lifetimes ago, like, back when my husband still loved me. We barely knew each other, but I “rescued” him from the demise of the Soviet Union. My sister was living somewhere in Maine, and it was a few days before the end of 1991. I remember little about the trip (without going in to the whirlwind of my Russian romance, it was a harrowing journey getting from Kazan by way of Moscow and Germany to JFK to Maine… all while not knowing if my intended would make it out of a country that was faIling apart). I was here for a couple of days and then crammed into the back seat of my parents’ car for a long journey back to their home.

I don’t think there was beer involved… and the Internet didn’t exist.

So here, in 2013, at the Beer Bloggers pre-conference, I will begin with a few observations.

  1. As with so many “writing” events these days, it’s hard to know the professionals from the amateurs to those who blog with a mission. I met Craig Hendry last night, one of those guys I didn’t know that I knew. I knew Craig was from Mississippi, and I joked we had him to thank for getting the recent homebrew law passed in one of the last states to proscribe homebrewing. Turns out, it wasn’t a joke! Craig is the guy!!! I had written about him when he was on Beer Sessions Radio a few months back. Craig admits that he’s no writer, but what he has accomplished in his home state goes far beyond recommending the next great IPA. That’s the power of a “free and open press.” It is a democratizing thing, and I’m embracing meeting people whose agenda may be different than mine vis a vis being a “beer blogger.”
  2. You might judge a book by its cover, but don’t judge a town by its bus depot. When I landed in Portland at the bus depot, I admit it: My first thought was, “What a dump.”The hotel we’re booked in is perfectly adequate (and by that, I mean, I’ve barely been in the room, and I’m forgoing a swim in their pool to write this!), but it’s conveniently situated next to the bus depot. I walked across a parking lot to get here. However, it’s far from what I had hoped considering I really did come for more than the beer and lobster (more on that shortly). Then we moved into the town, which is a quintessential old New England village: stone streets, old buildings beautifully kept, sea salt hanging in the air. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m currently reading Moby Dick with The Long Hard Book Club, but I wanted to linger here. Highest compliment I can pay? I’d like to come back for a week, tarry awhile, as they say.20130725_194719
  3. The sponsors know how to have a party! I hate to be blatant, and this is not an across the board reproach, but some people always want to look a gift horse in the mouth. When you attend an event such as this, the sponsors are key to bringing you here. They donate hundreds, even thousands, of dollars worth of product. I’ve done craft beer festivals that were underwritten by Corona/Modelo! I’ll toss back some skunk beer and say, thank you so very much. I don’t care that Cabot is in Vermont; the Cabot Annex team led by Candace Karu was gracious and welcoming. It was a perfect start for me (I got here late and missed the Allagash trip; my only regret thus far). I was doubly pleased to see all the cheeses carefully paired with Geary Brewing beers, because I really like Dave. Then—whoa!!!—I turned around and there was Dave! It made me happy to see him again, this time in his backyard instead of mine. And you know what? The London Porter paired with basil and tomato Cabot was excellent. As was the Sebago Brewing Citra Saaz Down paired with a lobster roll; the lobster brought out the hop notes while toning down the peachy-ness of the ale. Which leads me to this…
  4. I’m from Brooklyn, so I’m not drinking what you’re drinking. “I’m from Brooklyn” was a recurring theme for me last night. I approach beer from a metro/cosmopolitan point of view. When I’m out of the City, I want to drink one of two ways: something I cannot find in NYC (or online) and something local. I don’t want to drink your Goose Island, even if it’s the better, rarer stuff (a huge shout out to Patriot Craft Alliance for bringing in the GI and picking up the tab at The Thirsty Pig). I want to drink the Maine Beer Co.’s Peeper from a keg, fresh as it can be. I want to drink a local beer I never heard of, such as Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. And, yes, the Yakuza was the best (and my last) beer of the night! Try not to be a beer snob, and I’ll try not to remind you every other conversation that “I’m from Brooklyn!”
  5. Finally, Beer Peeps are the Best Peeps. Whatever our mission, and for whatever reason we are here together, drinking with like minds is the best. So, hat’s off to the organizers. Can’t wait to get down to Boston (I’ll be back, Portland!) and get into the meaty part of the conference.