Thursday, November 12, 2009

"The Naked Pint"

AFTER years as a wine drinker, I've begun to reorient slightly back to beer -- I think this is happening to a lot of people, especially in LA. so I was delighted to come across the new book, "The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer." Author Christine Perozzi is a celebrated beer sommelier who founded and Hallie Beune helped manage Father's Office and taught at the gastropub's beer school. Despite a few moments of cutesy writing, the book is accessible, engaging and full of good information, including descriptions of international beer styles -- wheat beers to stouts and porters -- advice on cooking with beer, and instruction on home brewing.

I spoke to Hallie the other day. (This is the first, by the way, of a series of brief author q+a's, involving books with West coast themes.)

Q: Let's start with the obvious: Chicks and beer. Age-old stereotypes tell us women drink wine, men drink beer.

A: It's funny, we mention in the book that historically women brewed beer, even in ancient Egypt. When women were in charge of cooking, they were also brewing ale. So it's funny that women look at a pint of beer and say, 'No thanks, I'll have a white wine.'

But when we went through Prohibition, it made it hard to brew at home. And later, advertising showed that if a woman is around beer she has to be wearing a wet T-shirt.

Q: It seems like LA has come belatedly but quite strongly to the craft beer renaissance, after being a wine town for a long time.

A: New York has had this scene for a lot longer than LA. We're right next to wine country, and LA suffers from the fact that everybody's looking for something low in calories. All these cocktails made from fine ingredients are anything but low calorie, by the way.

But people here love food like they do in any city, and there's a more casual trend in dining these days. And it just doesn't make sense to have a mass produced light lager list next to a great wine list and a menu of locally sourced food. Once people try the craft beers they won't go back.

Q: What are some of your favorite places to drink, and your favorite California breweries?

A: We love Craftsman Brewery in Pasadena, he makes a beer brewed with hand-picked sage. Russian River does really interesting beers, up north. And Stone helped to spread the word about craft beers. There's a new brewery opening in Eagle Rock -- it's starting to happen in LA.

We also like the Verdugo Bar -- he's truly passionate, and you know you'll find something interesting. We love the Golden State, over on Fairfax, where they have a beer float. And we love the Daily Pint on the Westside.

The other cool thing is restaurants realizing they need to have a good beer list, like BarBrix in Silverlake and Mozza [Nancy Silverton's pizza shrine.]

Q: What do you hope people will do after reading your book?

A: I would love it if people who think they love one style of beer go through the book and see the variety of flavors. There's a beer for every dish.

If we could change the conception of beer around the country, that would satisfy us.

Photo credit: That's my pic of downtown LA's Wurstkuche.

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