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Proof: The Science of Booze

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,465 ratings  ·  376 reviews
Humans have been perfecting alcohol production for ten thousand years, but scientists are just starting to distill the chemical reactions behind the perfect buzz. In a spirited tour across continents and cultures, Adam Rogers takes us from bourbon country to the world’s top gene-sequencing labs, introducing us to the bars, barflies, and evolving science at the heart of boo ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Patrick Brown
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
"He likes the warm feeling but he's tired of all the dehydration..."

A very fun book for anybody interested in booze beyond "I like how it tastes." I found the first half of the book to be more engaging and more thorough than the second half (which is more about alcohol's effects on the body) but that's just me. My big takeaway from this book is something that came from the introduction, something that's probably already obvious to everyone else but me: being passionate about something necessaril
...more
Leftbanker
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For an added thrill I decided to read this book while drinking.

This book is high entertainment and highly informative. We all should be more informed consumers of alcohol and you never know when you may need to know enough about the stuff to make it yourself. This book will give you a running start. He begins with yeast and the fermentation process and moves on to distillation. From here the author does a lot to break down a lot of the myths associated with beer, wine, and spirits.

I especially
...more
Hudson
Nov 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
Ok, so I know the title of the book has the word "science" in it.....but somehow I didn't think there would be this MUCH of it!

I need a book called the history of booze, that would be more my speed. I'm just not a science guy and this book didn't do it for me. Dropped it at around 20% in.
Becky
Recommended for all loves and appreciators of alcohol.

Proof was just my kind of book- a massive information drop on a subject that I have appreciated but didn’t really know much about. It was written in journalistic style with wit that made it edgy and fun. The book made me thirsty, and as I drank, I appreciated how little we really understand about alcohol. Given them million different variations on beer, wine, and liquor, I had incorrectly assumed that we had basically unlocked the mysteries o
...more
Charles J
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“Proof” is an outstanding book. Neither too short nor too long for its topic, it crisply discusses various elements of the production of (ingestible) alcohol. The author, Adam Rogers, an editor at Wired magazine, writes in a compelling, engaging fashion, including enough science to be interesting and not superficial, without putting in so much science that the average reader gets bored.

Rogers discusses in turn every major element of the process. First, he covers yeasts, ranging over their histor
...more
George
Oct 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
The science part of the title wasn't lying. There are moments where it gets deep into stuff like the bonding of molecules and aldehydes, spouting out scientific names one after the other that confounded me some of the time. But when I did understand what was being said, I found it really interesting.

It also gave me an appreciation for alcohol's history and the methods of its production throughout the ages, opened my eyes to a whole other world that I knew was there but had never given much thoug
...more
Candace
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
It was a lot of chemistry. I'm better at drinking alcohol than learning the science about it. It's cool, I'll just stay in my lane.
Morgan Blackledge
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Proof by Adam Rogers

Proof is a nerds eye view (get it? It's like birds eye view, you know like a big picture overhead kind of perspective, but like, the reverse in a sense, so it's like a super zoomed in look at the more technical aspects of a given subject, in this case) of booz.

I thought of the phrase "nerds eye view" just a moment ago, and I was all excited. I imagined a series of books like ______ for dummies, only _____ for smart people. Anyway, some person who is probably smarter than me
...more
Amanda--A Scientist Reads
Three stars is a bit low for this book, while I enjoyed it, and it would actually rank somewhere around the 3.75 mark, I couldn't bring myself to round up when using Goodreads' infuriating whole star rating system.

An easy read riddled with trivia around the topic of booze and drinking, each chapter featuring a single topic. This "short story" style makes it easy to pick up and put down, and I'm afraid my professional occupation made some of the more novel bits discussed by others skim worthy fo
...more
Victoria Zabuzova
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Smart, wit, tasty work about and around booze. must-read and reread
Jeffrey Schwartz
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
A heady mix of science, history, journalism, and memoir, Adam Rogers' PROOF is utterly unique and a complete joy. Ingeniously structured to mimic the process of making (and enjoying) booze, PROOF opens with a discussion of yeast before moving onto sugar, fermentation, distillation, aging, and finally to the neurochemistry of imbibing. Through it all, Rogers is a chatty, witty, geeky guide, who deftly balances science with humor.
Josie
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, science, beer, alcohol
A fascinating read on the science and history of alcohol. Sometimes the science was a little beyond me, but the anecdotes and history were deeply interesting. Now if I could just remember everything I read to share at my next cocktail party...
Heather
Occasionally more science than my brain could process, but liberally laced with humor and, for the most part, understandable by the lay person (that would be me).
Georgia
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-book
What a wonderful scientific exploration in drinking, from ingredients to product, the first sip to the hangover.
Arvind Balasundaram
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
In 'Proof', author Adam Rogers takes his readers on a delightful tour of the human connection with alcohol, since the dawn of civilization itself. The journey is a well-crafted narrative that blends science with historic fact, and is guaranteed to entertain both drinkers and teetotalers alike.

Taking its title from a term that represents the measure of alcohol-by-volume (ABV), a descriptor of alcohol content in most drinks that we consume, this work clearly explains how wine or whisky actually co
...more
Jennifer
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I like red wine a lot. The scientist in me also wants to know the exact process of how grapes turn into wine. If you want to know a bunch of cool facts about booze in general, then you should read this. It will not tell you how to mix cocktails, or how to differentiate tastes in whiskeys or wine, but how the actual process of fermentation works, and how ethanol affects the human body and why the shape and type of metal of a distillery sill is so important.
Even though the author is not a scientis
...more
Anne
Jun 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Wow! So much delicious information on alcohol (definitely way more delicious than the actual taste of ethanol). Half of the chapters focus on components (yeast, sugar) and processes in making a variety of alcoholic beverages. Probably the thing that I will remember most about that end of things is that yeast is a fungus. Take that, mushroom haters!! The rest of the chapters cover human interaction with alcohol - how we smell and taste it, what it does to our bodies, and a delightful cha
...more
Carl Jenkins
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
A really interesting book regardless of any real connection you have to drinking alcohol, though I imagine that knowing a bit more about it would have helped me enjoy the book more, but it was still a good read.

There's a lot that explores how yeast works, how sugars are turned into ethanol, and other basic aspects of making all sorts of alcohol, but Rogers puts in enough history and how these things are used in other areas of science to make it very interesting even to non-drinkers.

The last two
...more
Jennifer
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have this thing about looking at the author's photo on the book jacket before I start reading. Sometimes I like the look of the person and sometimes I don't - I suppose this colors my opinion of the book some, altho there have been times that I thought the author looked like a jerk and I had to admit that the book was good anyway! All of which to say - when I looked at the picture of Adam Rogers I felt like he was someone I would love to sit with at some dive bar, drinking beer and talking abo ...more
JQAdams
May 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Alternatively: A Douche-Bro's Guide to Organic Chemistry. It took me quite a while to get into the book, because Rogers was so determined to be cool and frattily "humorous." Once I reconciled myself to putting up with that grating swagger, though, this was a decent read for the commute, covering a lot of ground in discussing the engineering of alcoholic beverages. The choice of topics seemed idiosyncratic; the author will dilate on odd tangents for several pages at time, especially when he can d ...more
Bonny
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, science
Proof was a 2.5 star book for me, mainly because this collection of factoids and tidbits just didn't provide the pleasure that I know is possible with really well-written nonfiction. Rogers does explain fermentation, distillation, brewing, yeast, and alcohol's effects upon various individuals, but often ad nauseum and with lots of rambling and pseudo-scientific anecdotes. I've learned more on brewery tours in Colorado, and had much more fun on the tours than while trying to read this dry book.
Gerri Leen
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting look sat the science of all things alcohol. From fermenting to aging to how alcohol works on our brain (what little we do know), the author attempts to examine the age-old habit of drinking from a truly scientific perspective. It got a bit dry for me at times but I'm not always the best audience for non-fiction for just that reason. On balance, an enjoyable and enlightening read.
Arash Aghevli
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Pretty sweet breakdown of alcohol and how it is produced and consumed across chemical, biological, neurological and physiological processes. I really enjoyed the book.

The author stayed by the end that this was not intended to be a history of alcohol book, which I think I may have appreciated more of, but in the final analysis, this restraint is what makes this book very unique in its presentation.
Sirbriang2
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not surprisingly, parts of this book get a bit technical and scientific. What is surprising is how accessible those science-y explanations are and how enjoyable this was to read. I assumed that this would be interesting, but the brevity of the text (about 212 pages before the notes and reference pages) and the author's friendly tone made this an absolute pleasure. The only reason I didn't give 5 stars is because science has not provided a cure for hangovers yet.
Sean Geist
May 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
A great read for anyone interested in alcohol and it's effects on the human condition. Full of great stories that illustrate production and uses. From fermentation to hangovers.

The author does a great job of informing the reader in a way that is instructive as well as entertaining.

Even if you think you know everything about booze, you'll find something new in this book.

I recommend it.
Rachel Lewis
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
Absolutely fascinating! I consider myself a wine lover and after reading this book I have so many fun facts to share with my friends and family about the alcohol they drink that I'm sure I will leave them with a fact hangover. The science is well-researched and presented in an easy to understand manner with lots of stories sprinkled in. Highly recommend for anyone that likes science or alcohol.
Elise
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a chemist, I thoroughly enjoyed this discussion of the inner workings of how liquor has influenced humans through the ages.
I found the concept that the same basic materials, sugar substrate, yeast and time can result in an enormous variety of alcohols.
This might be a little overly technical for some tastes, but it was right in my wheelhouse.
Samantha Tanner
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-nerdery
Wish I’d taken more notes with my impressions while reading this, but overall I thought it was fantastic. What a depth of knowledge and research, yet engaging and easy to read. You’d expect the tone to sound pretentious, yet not once did I get that. I recommend pairing this with the documentary “Scotch: A Golden Dream”.
Graziano Misuraca
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! Interesting, funny, and technical enough to keep me interested. A real page turner. Adam Rogers takes you on a journey through the whole process of making alcoholic beverages... from the yeast to the hangover.
MrsEnginerd
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good mix of booze and science with a dash of history. I appreciated the humor and anecdotal information. I highly recommend this read for booze enthusiasts looking for some background on how alcohol became such an important part of society.
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2015 Reading Chal...: Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers 1 5 May 26, 2015 10:49AM  

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