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Memoirs + Biographies

What you learn when you spend a year drinking beer

Kai Ryssdal Oct 26, 2016
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Lucy Birmingham, author of 'My Beer Year: Adventures with Hop Farmers, Craft Brewers, Chefs, Beer Sommeliers and Fanatical Drinkers as a Beer Master in Training.'
Anna Caitlin

It’s Lucy Burningham’s job to write about the beer business, but she wanted to take her knowledge a step further. Burningham set out on a quest to become a sommelier of the beer world, or a Cicerone, as they’re known. She chronicled her year learning everything there is to know about the beverage in the new book “My Beer Year: Adventures with Hop Farmers, Craft Brewers, Chefs, Beer Sommeliers and Fanatical Drinkers as a Beer Master in Training.” Burningham spoke with Kai Ryssdal.

You can listen to the full audio of Kai’s beer tasting with Lucy Burningham here: 

On the explosion of the craft beer industry:

I think people are interested in what they’re eating and drinking now, in a way that they haven’t been in past decades. There are lots of people that are doing home brewing now and that’s a great way to get in to really understanding what is fermentation, how do temperatures affect beer, you know, as it’s fermenting. All those, sort of, technicalities that really make you appreciate what you’re drinking in a glass.

On the beer industry possibly growing too big too fast:

Well, I’m not really sensing the bubble and I think it’s because I do sense this thirst for flavor and variety. And people are curious, they want to try new things. What is happening are the big mergers and acquisitions.

On mergers and acquisitions:

This is the ongoing debate right now in the craft beer community. People are so worried, and I think one of the reasons why is transparency. You know, it’s going to take a lot more work for people who enjoy craft beer and enjoy the idea of an independent brewery to really know where their beer is coming from! You know, they might be enjoying that IPA but if they knew that it was produced by one of the world’s biggest corporate beer makers, it might have a little bit less intrigue for them, a little less something! And, it might taste exactly the same, who knows? But, I think people deserve to know who owns the brewery.

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