Distiller magazine

distiller_Fall 2014

Distiller magazine a publication of the American Distilling Institute, the Voice of Artisan Distilling; devoted to the craft spirits industry: vendors and distillers alike.

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BOOK Reviews B rett VanderKamp is the brewer and distiller of New Holland Brewing Company in Holland, Michigan, and author of Art in Fermented Form: A Manifesto. The book is comprised of about twenty non-linear, passionate and sometimes repetitive essays that express VanderKamp's philosophy and vision of how beer and spirits have and continue to contribute to society. Each essay offers an illustration highlighting the theme of the chapter and a unique fact about brewing or distilling, making the book readable randomly rather than cover-to-cover. Though there is no specific narrative arch, all the essays are linked by VanderKamp's obvious love for his craft and his mission to create art out of agricultural commodities. On the whole, VanderKamp's manifesto is not revolutionary, but it proposes returning to a paradigm in which most people purchase beer and spirits from local producers. While the genie of industrial beer and spirits will probably never go back into its bottle, it is interesting to think about what things might look like if craft beer and spirits had a 25% market share. Art in Fermented Form is full of thought-provoking, humorous anecdotes and a vision that challenges the reader to think about beer and spirits in new ways. VanderKamp believes the success of craft brewing and distilling demonstrates that people not only want better products, but locally produced products reflecting the character and flavor of the F red Minnick's Whiskey Women attempts what the group Bourbon Women seeks to achieve: "… to take back something they [women] had lost — a lady's rightful place in whiskey history." Going back to the Sumerian women who invented beer, and the Egyptian woman who created the alembic still, Minnick confirms that women have been behind the greatest strides in alcohol — without receiving credit for it. Well-researched stories from hundreds of years back are fascinating tales of innovation, oppression, corruption and pioneering acts initiated by or inflicted on women in the name of alcohol. Minnick digs into "tough Irish" and "aquavit-women" with respectful attention. There are stories of women-run distilleries like the very successful Mary Jane Blair Distillery, and of female moonshiners and outlaws, distilling since their teens. No account of alcohol and women could leave out Prohibition, largely aided by the suffrage movement in reaction to rampant poverty, crime and debauchery often traced to alcoholic husbands. Minnick contrasts Temperance Women with a chapter, Women Moonshiners and Bootleggers, a riveting expose of women who kept booze alive during Prohibition. He comes full circle with Repeal Women Saving Whiskey, telling the story of Pauline Sabin, a Prohibition supporter 96 distiller ART IN FERMENTED FORM: A MANIFESTO Brett Vanderkamp with Greg Smith Black Lake Press, February 2013 Paperback/154 pages ISBN 978-0-9883373-4-3 $13.34/Amazon region they are made in. While the focus of Art in Fermented Form will immediately appeal to craft beer and spirit enthusiasts, its theme of food and beverages as art will also interest a broader foodie audience. It may feel at times like VanderKamp is preaching to the choir. However, his ability to be provocative without pretension ensures the book reads comfortably like a series of conversations with friends over a pint of beer. Finally, the cover art and internal illustrations exhibit a populist feel, both bold and at times humorous, reinforcing the message of the book. VanderKamp's philosophy comes through: craft beer and spirit are art, not in an abstract way that only the trained or initiated can enjoy, but art that enriches the lives of those who choose to partake. Reviewed by Eric Zandona WHISKEY WOMEN Fred Minnick [Potomac Books] University of Nebraska Press, October 2013 Clothbound/232 pages ISBN 978-0-61234-564-2 $21.56/List who ended up being a crucial figure in its repeal. Modern day whiskey is not neglected, with stories of female master blenders (like Rachel Barrie, Helen Mulholland, Angela D'Orazio), executives and business women, or The First Lady of Scotch, Bessie Williamson, a secretary at Laphroaig who saved the distillery from military takeover and was instrumental in ushering in the demand for single malt vs. blends. Whiskey Women brings praise and acknowledgement where it is due. Coming from a male writer, it speaks even louder, an enjoyable read of thoughtfully-assembled facts and stories illuminating the forgotten women of apothecaries and distilleries past. Reviewed by Virginia Miller

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