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The Comic Book Story of Beer: The World's Favorite Beverage from 7000 BC to Today's Craft Brewing Revolution

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  625 ratings  ·  123 reviews
A full-color, lushly illustrated graphic novel that recounts the many-layered past and present of beer through dynamic pairings of pictures and meticulously researched insight into the history of the world's favorite brew.
Starting from about 7,000 BC, The Comic Book Story of Beer traces beer's influence through world history, encapsulating early man's experiments with ferm
Paperback, 180 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by Ten Speed Press
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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  625 ratings  ·  123 reviews

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Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, nonfiction, food
Informative, apparently well-researched, passionate, and nicely illustrated. This is everything I could ask for in graphic nonfiction. I have to imagine that this would be an even more exciting read for people who drink beer, especially those who are interested in craft beers. I'm neither, just a history nerd with a special interest in the history of food and beverage. For me, this book was largely an enjoyable read, densely packed with information without going off on too many tangents or inclu ...more
Kimberly Carrington-Fox
Un cómic sorprendente e interesante, destinado a los amantes de la cerveza y a toda la gente que sienta curiosidad por su fabricación. Mezclando humor y varios estilos de dibujo, vamos haciendo un recorrido histórico por la cerveza y su evolución (cómo se cree que surgió, dónde, etc.) hasta nuestros días, pasando por su modo de fabricación y la evolución que este ha tenido. A pesar de la cantidad de datos que se dan en ningún momento se me ha hecho pesado, el hecho de que sea un cómic y que el t ...more
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This graphic novel is a wonderful love letter to beer. The story is written with the passion that only a true beer lover can have about the subject. This is a very in depth history going from prehistory to today. While I wasn't worried because I'm the kind of guy that likes dry histories, I was pleasantly surprised at how engrossing and readable this graphic novel is. I honestly couldn't put it down. I loved how the author didn't only tell the history of beer in general, but went into the back s ...more
Stewart Tame
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it
The very existence of this graphic novel fascinates me. With the popularity of craft brews, I can see the general interest in the material, but why a graphic novel? I'm not complaining, just curious. I actually don't drink beer. Something about the basic flavor just puts me off. I've tried quite a few over the years, but never found one from which it was worth taking more than a polite sip or two. I do love comics though, and am especially happy to read one on a topic not normally associated wit ...more
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review is based on an ARC copy from NetGalley.

Love love love this book!

There's no doubt that craft beer is super popular at the moment, so whether your'e a beer drinker or just interested in pop culture, this book is for you. I know reading a book on the history of one specific thing sounds very dry and tedious, but this book never bored me and never felt like a chore to read. In fact, the illustrations and light tone of the book made it quite a delightful process!

I never new beer had such
Many thanks to NetGalley and Ten Speed Press for a digital Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for my review.

Don't let the fun comics format lull you into thinking this is simply a light romp about drinking beer. Sure, that may be where it starts, but it is so much more. This is a history book, complete with footnotes and references (a few are in the book, but the full list of chapter notes can be found on their website) and an index! Not only will you be entertained, you will be educated. This is
Someone sent this to me at the time I marked my fourth decennial, but didn't pop a card or return address in there, so they remain safely anonymous whereas I remain fucking forty. So, thanks, yo, whoever you are!

As I don't know anything about brewing, I can't comment on the presentation of the production process or the history of different varieties (lambics, doppel, porter, &c.). Cool, though, that beer does in fact have a history. (I imagine there must be an Althusser of brewing out there
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
I went into this one with high hopes, but it left me disappointed for four reasons:

1. It spends far too much time trying to prove to the reader how important beer is. I'd rather have more information and less of a sales pitch!

2. The first section about early beer is mostly mythology along with stories that even the book admits are probably false! Why even have this in the book if you know it's probably not true?

3. It feels like it's lacking in information. I'm not a beer historian, but if beer w
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
A VERY detailed history of beer. At times it was a little slow, but overall a good read. I learned a lot and the illustrations were superb.
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Delightfully refreshing, with a charming and strong finish, this Comic Book Story of Beer ranks high with all of our tasters...

...and you can see where I'm going with this. Seriously, though: packed with solid, documented history (and clearly marking simple assertions and conjecture when they occur) and lushly illustrated, this is one of the more fun histories of anything you will likely ever read.
Nick Klagge
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
I thought this was just OK. There's a lot of decent information about the history of beer, although most of it was already familiar to me. (I did, however, learn that there is now a certified Trappist monastery brewery in Spencer, Massachusetts!) Ultimately I didn't feel like the book did anything in particular to leverage the graphic novel format--the illustrations don't have a strong characteristic style, nor did they seem to tell the story any better than you could tell it in words. (But if y ...more
Bert Heymans
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you're interested in beer, this is great. You'll learn a lot without feeling like you're studying. However, if you're looking for a good story ... this will not scratch your itch. The comic style is nice but feels very chaotic because it wants to stay true to the subject matter. Recommended for every aspiring beek geek, but not so much for the comic lovers among us.
Mark Mcdermott
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Beer fans and comic fans, especially those who are both.
This book is a decently thorough, yet concise, book on beer, not only its history, but on the science behind the brewing process. Hennessey, who has written other graphic "novels" on history, and brewer Mike Smith, sift through a lot of history and come up with some new ideas. Like the fact that we can only date the history of beer back to 7000 BC because that's when people started making it in pottery that can be found today; animal skins or wooden vessels from earlier times would have decayed ...more
Joseph R.
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Chronicling the history of beer (starting with per-historical archaeological evidence and speculation), this book gives a quick but detailed view of the origins of beer-making by ancient peoples and follows through to the modern micro-brewing revolution in the United States. The book is entertainingly written and occasionally touches on major historical events when they are in some way related to beer (like Hitler's Beer Hall Putch). The book also gives one page information sheets on all the maj ...more
Kyle Smucker
Dec 25, 2015 rated it liked it
As a fan of both graphic novels and beer, this was a delight to read. I have some qualms, though.

First, the classic comic book art is my least favorite style of the medium, looking more like superman meets Mary Worth than the art comics and zines I find less predictable. However, the simple style does work well for non-fiction and there are some creative spins thrown in. Visualizing and cartooning the brewing process was especially cool.

Second, this book is laughably pro-beer, crediting beer w
Rod Brown
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Put it in comic book form, and I will pretty much read about anything, even the history of a beverage that I have only sipped a couple times in my entire life and rejected as tasting godawful. This book isn't godawful, but the reliance on hyperbole, mythology and conspiracy theory makes it of dubious value as a history even while making the early chapters sort of fun. The majority of the book is quite dry in art and writing and descends into a stiffly-illustrated concordance of every mention of ...more
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
A pretty good history of the world's favorite alcoholic beverage from ancient times to the modern day. It's filled with history, anecdote, and most importantly, science! It's told in an easy-to-read manner, though it can get a bit dry in some places. I did enjoy the 'Meet the Beer' sections though, where different kinds of beers were profiled in full-page spreads.

I will freely admit that I probably gave this book an extra star because it has a random cameo of my small childhood hometown of Porte
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, history
I really hate the taste of beer. This book did not change that.
but I dig comics and my partner is a beer-snob so I got this for us to read together. And I'm very glad I did. [Thanks to Maria for the recommendation!]

I was genuinely enthralled by how this history/taxonomy told dramatic stories of how science, technology, religion, and politics have impacted beer and brewers through the ages.

Good stuff. And now I know what lots of those fancy beer words mean.
Without having to drink allot of beer
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
How did beer come to be? Why was it connected to sacred ceremonies (the answers to these two questions are related!)? Why, with all the fantastically diverse and complex varieties is it often looked down upon compared to wine? How did the different types come to be? And who thought up using hops? Answers to these puzzles and many more are delivered via great drawings, good narrative, surprisingly comprehensive ties to history, descriptions of a few brews you may wish to try, and more. If you're ...more
CJ - It's only a Paper Moon
I like beer. I like graphic novels.

But I'm lukewarm about this.

Sort of all over the place but with a decent premise (I like to assume the grocery guy is the narrator). This had moments of decent art but the story read like a Senior research paper.

It's a good novelty but it had potential that it just didn't reach.

If you can get it from the library by all means do so but there are better books explaining the history of beer.
Evan Sass
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
The meat of this book is a detailed and fascinating history of beer. It is surrounded by a sort of goofy story of someone going to the store to buy "beer" for a party and getting educated by the store's beer sommelier. This goofy overarching plot is thankfully brief. An enjoyable read.
Beth Wisniewski
Oct 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Learned quite a bit about beer that I never knew and also that I much more enjoy drinking it than reading about it.
David Schummer
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. As a kid I was always a big fan of comic books, and as a 21.5 year old I am a big fan of craft beer. Not to mention being a chemical engineering student enthralled with fermentation and an avid foodie, too. What a mingling of worlds this read was!

The book is filled to the brim - pun intended - with great information about beer, its history, and importance in one form or another to society. McConnell’s artistic style helps to deliver these concepts with the flair only beer dese
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Do you enjoy beer? Do you have beer-appreciating friends with upcoming birthdays? I’ve got just the book for you! The Comic Book Story of Beer is a gorgeously and ornately illustrated history of the brewski. As the title implies, the 173 pages of this book covers everything from the misty origins of beer through prohibition, homogenization, and the recent fanning out of styles and breweries. It’s not too detailed to boring for the casual drinker, and it’s not so broad that beer nerds won’t learn ...more
Jan 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
*** To see all of my reviews, go to my blog: Flawless Words

I was pretty excited when my bookclub chose this book to read. I do love beer. I can't say that graphic novels are my favourite or that I've read a lot of them, but I do usually find them quite entertaining. But something just fell flat with this one for me, rather like the draft that they seem to serve up at a lot of bars in this city...

Still, I'm giving it 3 stars because I felt like I learned some things about why monks in Europe brew
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating read, in every section. From pre-historic times, up to the modern craft beer renaissance, it's full of fascinating tid-bits and tales.

Wine being seen as classy, is all down to the Romans.
Gruit (combinations of herbs) used to be used to flavour beer, but taxation on Gruit lead to the adoption of hops.
Lager yeast evolved because monks were brewing in cold caves
Wit beer was saved from extinction by one man.
The serious categorisation of all styles of beers happened surprisingly late.

Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love, love, love this book. I'm always a sucker for history in general, and I really love food history. I think it really gives a good picture of the common people. I think it was well-researched, and the pagination of the history struck a sweet spot between overly complex and not complex enough.

I also really loved getting a clear idea of the rise of craft brews, why American beer was so static and fixated on pilsners forever. I loved the snapshots of different beer types, talking about the I
Stephen Roberts
I love beer, I love comics, and I love history, so I really enjoyed this combination of all three! It’s equal parts fun and informative, without getting bloated with too many details or veering off on random sidetracks. This book has definitely given me a greater appreciation of a beverage I’m already passionate about, and has also further solidified my desire to get into homebrewing in the future. If you enjoy beer, learning about history from a unique perspective, or both, I’d highly recommend ...more
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5/5 stars ~

1/1 ★ for historical/biographical/educational account (non-fiction)
1/1 ★ for detail of educational material (non-fiction)
1/1 ★ for writing style/art
1/1 ★ for pace
1/1 ★ for realism (non-fiction)

Never thought I could learn so much from a single graphic novel, let alone about beer! Well-done and well-paced account of beer's role throughout history, plus profiles of many different kinds of beer.
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Can’t imagine your life without fiction? Can’t imagine your life without nonfiction? Then you’re a lot like me. I often find nothing more entertaining than some scrupulously researched historical account; and no better learning experience than a thoroughly made-up-from-whole-cloth story.

So I read (and write) both — often in deep dives into the fascinating backgrounds of everyday people and everyda