Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Recommended Reads: Beers, Mushrooms, and yes, More Beer

Beer Guide to the Midwest

Michael Agnew took on the enviable though impossible task of surveying the Midwest craft beer scene. A Perfect Pint's Beer Guide to the Heartland is an immediately out of date look at breweries and brewpubs  in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois (adding Michigan might make sense but surely would overwhelm any writer on such a task). The book has some history and then goes state by state, with each entry giving the location, website, beer styles, Agnew's favorites and more. It's pretty exhaustive, but with a new craft brewery seemingly opening every day (hooray!), this is a book that is truly more of a "guide" than anything definitive. Still, if you're planning on any sort of travel in the aforementioned states, this is a great place to start figuring out what's near where you're going and  if the brewery or brewpub at your destination are worth visiting. The only thing this book can't tell you is whether the establishment is still around or if a newer, better option now exists.

Mushrooms of Illinois

Eat this, not that. Beyond fast food, that philosophy could save your life if you are picking mushrooms. Joe McFarland and Gregory M. Mueller, authors of Mushrooms of Illinois: A Field-to-Kitchen Guide,  know this all too well and go to great pains to remind everyone how dangerous fungi can be. This book is small enough to take into the field and also necessary enough to make it a requirement. Large pictures show common mushrooms, when you might find them in nature, and their look-a-likes that you better leave alone. Plenty of recipes are included in case you're not sure the best way to prepare any of the mushrooms you may run across.

Beer a Global History

The Sumerians brewed beer, so did your grandfather, probably. In Beer: A Global History, Gavin D. Smith discusses beer use, making, culture and more through the ages. Weaving science, arts, industry and more, the story  is told of beer's importance to us as individuals and as a species. A few recipes and other resources round out this small but useful tome.

These books were sent for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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