Sunday, February 13

True Brew by Rita Kohn

"I drink wine," I said politely, tilting my stemmed glass toward her, in response to her query as to why I don't write about beer in my column.

"You just haven't found the right beer," Rita Kohn rebutted.

"I don't like beer," I replied, hoping that would clarify the obvious to her. "Wine drinkers don't drink beer and vice-verse. Nothing personal you understand..."

If you've never met her ~ well, you should. I would not say she is one of those human dynamos you hear about. No, no ... Kohn is a quiet navigator, slightly adjusting whatever is necessary until you realize she's got you exactly where she intended all along. My agreeing to check out beer, in this case.

Kohn is well known in the world of hops and barley. She is the columnist of Beer Buzz, which is found in NUVO, an Indianapolis free weekly. True Brew, Kohn's latest book, not only highlights Indiana microbreweries, it gives insight to the origin of the beer movement in the Hoosier state.

From the transcript of the initial Indiana Craft Beer Round table meeting you are able to glean the prominent home brewers, judges and people of the microbreweries/brewpubs. Kohn's choice to use meetings and first-person interviews draws you into the relationship as if you were sitting and listening to them discuss things over a stout at Broad Ripple Brew Pub.

It covers all the breweries, sectioned into five geographical regions, with Indianapolis as the dominating region and Evansville home to just one. As the festivals, competitions and classes continue to grow, so will the locations and availability of this, not-just-a-trend, American staple.

True Brew covers the interconnected group including John Hill, the owner of the first Indiana brewpub, Joan Easley of Easley Winery who knows as much as, or more than, most of these guys, and Anita Johnson, owner of Great Fermentations, a beer-maker's dream store. The owners, the brewers, the judges and the suppliers all work together to create a stronger foundation for non-mass produced beer. Their goals are to educate the unaware, be involved in the community and provide top-quality brew.

So, do I like beer now? I understand that beer is like wine; that there are those who are passionate about it, those who are snobs regarding it, and that not liking one does not necessarily mean you won't like the other. Which means I will try bacon beer, stouts and every other type, until I find, as Kohn said, "the right beer."

Bottom Line: True Brew is the perfect book whether you are looking to learn about Hoosier craft beers, someone already in the business wanting to hear about the good ole days, or a novice beer drinker or brewer looking for advice and tips. Rita Kohn's True Brew wraps up the history, stories and facts in an enjoyable read.


Photo Credit: Kris Arnold

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer and theater critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC and follow her on Twitter @gottago and Facebook. Gotta Go is published in the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, West Side Community News, New Palestine Reporter, West Indianapolis Community News, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

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