Right now, 12: 55 p.m. on Saturday January 10, 2009, the hardcover version of Brewing Battles is number 87 in Amazon’s list of “The most popular items in Beer. Updated hourly.” Yesterday the paperback was 84 and the hardcover 100.
The rankings really do change by the hour so it could all be different by 2 p.m. I have always intended to write at least one blog about Amazon and I have been trying for a while to catch a moment when at least one of the versions of the book was on the list so I could write about the contents of the list rather than its meaning and value .
Number One right now is How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Right the First Time by John Palmer. Of the nine other books in the top ten, eight are about home brewing, including Charles Papazian’s classic, The Joy of Homebrewing which is number 3. Number 5 is The Alaskan Bootlegger’s Bible which, according to Amazon, tells the reader “how to make beer, wine, liqueurs, cider and moonshine whiskey.” Home distilling is illegal in the United States.
In my recent AHA talk, I discussed the fact that scholarly work on alcohol and temperance has been more weighted towards temperance than the industry. The reverse is true for popular literature as the Amazon list indicates.
Number 10 on the list is Charles Bamforth, Grape Versus Grain: A Historical, Technological and Social Comparison of Beer and Wine. Bamforth is the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at the University of California, Davis.
The next fifteen follow the same general path, being either about some aspect of brewing geared toward the home brewer, or about beer styles and types of beer. Number 18 , Stan Hieronymous, tells you how to Brew Like a Monk while number 23 is the late Michael Jackson’s opinion on the best beer in the world, Ultimate Beer. Charlie Papazian makes another appearance with the same book at 24 ( one of the many peculiarities of Amazon’s list – for another post).Shine on Shiner Beer rounds out the top twenty-five and commemorates the 100 year history of the Texas brewery.
Numbers 25 to 50 cover more brewing how-tos, a book on beer drinking games, a beer memoir by Steve Hindy, Beer School:Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery, Brewing For Dummies, another book by Michael Jackson as well as another by Charles Papazian. Numebr 36 New Jersey Breweries by Lew Bryson, is a guide book; the first history on the list is number 49, Maureren Ogle, Ambitious Brew, the hardcover.
Numbers 51 -75 include books on wine, sake, and root beer as well as another book by Charles Bamforth. Number 72 is Maureen Ogle in paperback ( that peculiarity again)
Okay I have been writing this for forty-five minutes . Let’s see if Brewing Battle’s is still on the list. I am but at 89. Number 77 is Gregg Smith, Beer in America: The Early years 1587-1840 which is a good , popular history of the pre-German American brewing industry. The rest of the groups is more of the same with beer drinking games, sake, Michael Jackson, The Big Book O’ Beer which is shaped like a beer can, and several cookbooks. Number86 is Ken Wells, Travels with Barley,a journalistic endeavor. The final book, number 100 is Bill Yenne, Beers of the World. Yenne has written several books on beer.
Even though the list changes every hours and did so while I have been writing, the actual content of the list does not vary very much. You can pretty much count on Jackson and Papazian as well as a few others; then books on home brewing and beer styles with a very small smattering of more serous works.
It would have been surprising to find an anti-alcohol work on this list, but having examined the beer list, I think I will try to find a similar list for health, temperance, prohibition or the like and see what that holds.