Book Review: Northern California Craft Beer Guide

As mentioned in a previous post, I recently picked up The Northern California Craft Beer Guide at the book release party at Whole Foods the other day. Well, I’ve finished reading through it, so here are my thoughts.

First off, this book looks great. The pictures taken by photographer Anneliese Schmidt are beautiful, and just look great on the pages. The layout is very well done, and even the page stock is perfect. Yes, I just geeked out on page stock (a new one for me!).

Content wise, the guide is broken into 8 regions (San Francisco, North Bay/Wine Country, East Bay, the Pennisula/South Bay/Santa Cruz, North Coast/Lost Coast, Chico/Shasta/Cascade, Sacramento/Lake Tahoe and Central Valley/Yosemite), covering a vast array of locations, including breweries, brew pubs, bottle shops, restaurants, homebrew shops, and even smaller grocery stores that have craft selections. Author Ken Weaver does a great job of giving succinct, yet in-depth reviews of each location. You’ll have no doubt as to which locations you should visit after reading his reviews.

Ken’s passion for craft beer comes through in his words (as well as through Anneliese’s photos), and he does a really good job of nerding out occasionally while keeping the guide completely accessible to everyone in the craft beer spectrum.

The book is chock full of sidebars, with everything to blurbs about sustainable brewing to anecdotes from their travels. He also includes 18 beer style sidebars, with very good descriptions of the styles and a beer from the area that he feels is the best example of the style.

I really only have one complaint. After reading the guide, it rekindled my desire to hit the roads and check out some of these locations. One place I’ve been talking about going to for months is Drake’s Barrel House in San Leandro. I did some research to see if they were family friendly (I have a daughter) only to find that they are 21 and over. This information is lacking in their reviews of places, and I think it would be helpful for those of us who have families. Not a big gripe, but might be something nice to include in a future edition, and I did communicate this in an email to the author.

This is an indispensable guide to the Northern CA beer culture, both for locals and visitors (I have a list of at least 15 places to hit up, some of which I had never heard of before this book. Look out Dust Bowl Brewing, here I come!). It surprised me how many places in my (relative) backyard of San Francisco I had never heard of, Suppenkuche and Ales Unlimited being the two that really stood out to me.

Ken and Anneliese have put together a great resource for our area, and we should all be thankful for them for undertaking this project (although I’m sure they had a pretty good time with it).

Image from Facebook