Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA
Paperback, $16.95, 270 pp./266 pp.
Beer travelers hungry to prowl the lower Mid-Atlantic states have two books to inform their journeys. Your guide: noted beer and spirits writer Lew Bryson, who covers the state brewery/brewpub beat for various magazines, such as Malt Advocate and Ale Street News. His new book, Pennsylvania Breweries, and the revised Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Breweries take a thorough approach to these four states, and treats these areas with proper respect, as historic havens of fine brewing.
Bryson is apparently a most energetic traveler. His Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Breweries book profiles 58 breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs in that geographic area (including the Washington, D.C. area), while the Pennsylvania book spotlights 53 entries for that beer-rich region, which happens to be his home stomping ground. (In a nice touch, Bryson updates these the information contained in these books, as well as his guide to New York state, on his website, www.lewbryson.com.)
Bryson’s writing benefits from a warm anecdotal style, and he knows where to find the human interest gold for each entry. The description of his visit to the Latrobe Brewing Co., as chronicled in the Pennsylvania guide, tries to untangle the mystery of that famous “33” that appears on Rolling Rock bottles. And there’s a nice esoteric quality to much of the writing; Bryson quotes Emerson in his salute to Dogfish Head Brewing and Eats in the Virginia book.
Each entry goes into near-exhaustive detail, with lots of local color about attractions and lodging in those areas. And he isn’t afraid to go on the record in each entry, selecting his own pick as the top choice for each brewery. Bryson is clearly an expert about his subject, not to mention a worthy travel companion for anyone making a Mid-Atlantic beer run.