Category Archives: Personal

Bookrageous Calendar is GO FOR LAUNCH!

bookrageouscalIf you happen to follow me, Jenn Northington and Rebecca Schinsky online (and really, why wouldn’t you?), you’ve noticed that we’ve been posting a lot about Bookrageous. Bookrageous is our shorthand for really cool, exciting and unique things going on in the world of publishing. One of the ideas that led to the creation of the term, and the one we’ve been writing about feverishly lately, is the Bookrageous Calendar.

As of today, the calendar is launched and on sale over at Zazzle. You can – and should – buy the hell out of it.

We talked quite a bit about the calendar on the first episode of the Bookrageous podcast, but here’s the gist of it if you didn’t listen to the show. The Bookrageous Calendar is an 18-month (Jan 2011-Jun 2012) calendar featuring pictures of booksellers, book bloggers and other ever-lovin’ book nerds with a book or books. Think your typical swimsuit or charity calendar with a serious twist of literate-ness. There are topless photos (at least two!). There are men and women. There are a ton of good books. The calendar clocks in at a not-too-spendy $25, which buys you a whole year and a half of lovely literati and offbeat omnibuses. None of the people in the calendar make anything off the sale, as all proceeds go to First Book, a nonprofit that gives books to children in need.

So GET TO IT! If you wanna see this guy, or this gal, or pictures like this, you gotta buy the Bookrageous calendar. If you want to support a good cause and keep books fun, get the calendar. If you want to crush on the lovely models, buy the calendar.

In the meantime, check out the #Bookrageous social media leviathan (links on the left side) and stay tuned for the next Bookrageous podcast.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

60-minute-ipaRecently, Mike from Belching Monkey posed a seemingly simple question on Twitter – what are your 3 favorite IPAs? It’s probably an easy question for most people that enjoy having a bit of beer, but for a geek like me it took quite a while to whittle the IPAs I’ve had down to the top three. Although I struggled quite a bit to come up with beers two and three, coming up with my favorite was easy.

That distinction goes to the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.

I haven’t really made my love of the Dogfish Head Brewery a secret here on Brews and Books. My guest posters and myself have written quite lovingly about a number of different brews from the Delaware powerhouse. Hell, I even pushed a Dogfish beer on the community at by incorporating beer in the site book club. But none of the crazy, unique beers they produce hit me quite the same way as one of their tasty (and surprisingly traditional) brews.

Here’s how the brewery describes the India Pale Ale;

Our 60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped – more than 60 hop additions over a 60 minute boil (getting a vibe yet of where the name came from?). 60 Minute is a session India Pale Ale brewed with a slew of great NorthWest hops. A powerful, but balanced East Coast I.P.A. with a lot of citrusy hop character. The session beer for hardcore beer enthusiasts!

So, tons of hops, lots of citrus, and the ever-important balance – sounds great coming from the brewer’s mouth, but what does it all mean? Follow me down the tasting rabbit hole after the jump.

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Guest Appearance on the Podcast!

murmurThis week, the staff over at was kind enough to include me on episode 15 of their podcast.  Despite some near-crippling nervousness, I think I added some decent bits to the discussions of New Year’s Resolutions, homebrewing, and Josh Bazell’s Beat the Reaper.

If you’d like to listen to the podcast, you can stream the whole thing on the podcast post.  You can also download an mp3 of the podcast, or subscribe to the podcast feed in iTunes or by RSS.

If you want to bone up on the discussion topics before listening to the podcast, here are links to my article on homebrewing, the discussion thread for Beat the Reaper, and the book club post for Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.  I’d also recommend checking out Ali’s post about the experience of podcasting.

Interview at Drink With the Wench!

Looking to get up close and personal with the dude behind Brews and Books?

My pal Ashley, a major force in the internet beer world and a fellow Hop Press columnist, posted a long interview with me on her blog, Drink With the Wench.

Here’s a sampling;

1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?

I’m not totally sure, but I registered my blog’s domain in February. I’d say that conservatively I’ve been writing Brews and Books for a bit less than a year.

2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?

A couple things. Mainly, I just wanted a creative outlet to talk about beer and books. I’d been using Twitter and commenting on other folks’ blogs for a few months before I started my blog, and wanted a place to write in one place without a limit on the number of characters I could use. Otherwise, I wanted to improve my ability to talk about beer and books in a critical and intelligent way. I hadn’t done any real writing since college, and it seemed like a good way to learn and improve rather than let those writing muscles atrophy.

3. Why did you chose the name of your blog?

I wanted to communicate that I’d be writing about both beer and books, and was taken.

Check out the full interview here.

The Pen is Mightier; Life-Changing Reads

This post originally appeared on, a fantastic community-driven site for discussing movies, music, tech, literature and lifestyle. While I encourage you to check out the site and the discussion going on over there, I am re-posting the article here to give the community around Brews + Books a chance to discuss life-changing books.

canvasThere is, without a doubt, great power in the written word.

In a broad sense, there are scores of books that have helped to chart the course of human history in a very real way.  Be it the Bible or Mein Kampf, The Art of War or The Republic, books have shaped society for centuries.  Books, pamphlets and plays have sparked revolutions, toppled empires and challenged the way we look at the world as a people.  Old Billy Shakespeare wasn’t kidding around when he wrote that “many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills.”

The inspiration for this article wasn’t these Revolutionary-with-a-capital-R books, important as they are.  No, lately I’ve been thinking more about the power a book has to change a person’s life.  Any great piece of art – film, music, painting – has the potential to profoundly impact the consumer.  However, in my personal experience, no media strikes me as strongly or as deeply as a book.  A well-written or particularly thought-provoking book can stick with me not for hours or day, but for years.  One of the exciting things about picking up a highly-recommended book is I never know if it will end up as a major touchstone for me.  I’m not confident that I can name a movie or album that changed the way I approach the world, but there are certainly books that have transformed me in subtle and obvious ways.

Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, for example, is a book that has had a profound impact on me.  While I usually list it as my favorite book, I can’t put a finger on exactly how it changed me.  I don’t blame it for a shift in world view, or for causing me to treat people differently.  I’m not pulling up all my roots to go to New York, nor am I any more inspired to write comics.  Yet I know that it had a very real affect on me.  I suppose the best way to describe it is as a book that changed the way I look at literature.  When I read now and when I think about what I’ve read before, there’s a clear split between BK (before Kavalier) and AC (after Clay).  Kavalier and Clay was and remains one of, if not the, best-written books I’ve read.  The masterful plotting, beautiful writing and fully realized themes and characters created a benchmark that I use to judge all the other fiction I read.  The book also opened my eyes to “literary” fiction, a genre that I still approach with some apprehension but used to eschew completely.  It’s not an overstatement to say that Chabon’s opus changed the way I experience writing.

Despite Malcolm Gladwell’s detractors, The Tipping Point is another book that I’d consider life-changing.  The first long-form work by the author, the book puts forth the idea of “tipping points” as moments of change in society, points when “the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable.”  Gladwell deftly explains the agents of these changes, as well as the content and contexts that propel these epidemic ebbs and flows.  The book provides plenty of real world examples, and makes a convincing case that tipping points can explain everything from fashion fads to shifts in crime rates.  Ever since reading the book, there’s been a paradigm shift in my thinking and everything is a possible tipping point.  Although my college experience gave me many lenses through which to look at sociological changes, this book provided the filter I go to first.

As I think about all the classics I read in middle school and high school, the influential books come fast and furious.  There were quite a few I didn’t enjoy while I was reading them, but looking back they were seriously important to me.  1984 changed the way I look at war, government and the media.  One of the major reasons I studied politics and law was To Kill a Mockingbird, and Eichmann and the Holocaust changed the way I look at law and personal responsibility.  One of my favorite plays to this day is Death of a Salesman, and I think of it often when I’m thinking about technology, career and adulthood.  With some time and perspective, I can see why these books are such revered classics.

What say you, Murmur-ites?  What books have absolutely changed your lives in ways major and minor?  Any of the books I listed just not do it for you?  Let loose in the comments.

Blogging this Week – Homebrewing, Interviews and a Literary Reprint

I know that there weren’t any new updates on Brews and Books since Monday, but don’t fret!  I’ve been spending a bit of time doing columns for a few other websites.  I’ve got some killer articles for next week (including a book recommendation and some more beer/book pairings), but here’s where you can find my writing this week.

Over at, I wrote a piece introducing some of the community to the art of homebrewing.

Ever since Carter signed a bill legalizing homebrewing in 1978, thousands of Americans have taken up the hobby of brewing beer – usually five gallons at a time.  Personally, two factors played a major part in my taking up the hobby.  Mostly, a growing passion for good, flavorful beer started ramping up big-time after I turned 21, and I wanted to see if I could replicate what I was buying at the store.  After all, good beer can be expensive, and brewing your own beer can drive the price down to three bucks or so a six-pack.  The other driving factor was the fact that my girlfriend is a hell of a cook.  She’s been cooking and baking up a storm since we moved in together, and I wanted to be able to do something – anything – in the kitchen.  With these budgetary, creative and face-saving concerns in mind, I picked up some homebrewing equipment and a kit and went to town.

For my weekly RateBeer column, I revisited the world of beers named after books and authors.

Wouldn’t you know it, there are tons of beers that draw inspiration from the world’s great literature. Some of the names are pretty obvious, some a bit more subtle. Either way, I now have to resolve to try them all. What kind of booklover would I be otherwise?

On my friend Kat Meyer’s Follow the Reader, there’s an interview with yours truly about beer, books and

In all seriousness, the best thing about the blog is turning people on to good beer and good books.  One of the great things about writing on two topics is that beer lovers who may never pick up a book will see book content on my blog and find a new favorite novel.

Similarly, readers who might have never tried good beer – real beer – will end up trying and loving something like a witbier or a chocolat  tarted the site because I’m passionate about both topics, and seeing people find a new favorite beer or book because of me is probably the coolest feeling in the world.