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To Brew or Not to Brew

(Brewing Trouble #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  732 ratings  ·  182 reviews
An all-new mystery series set in a Pittsburgh craft brew pub, featuring a brewmaster with a head for sleuthing.

The Allegheny Brew House is a dream come true for Maxine “Max” O’Hara, who went all the way to Germany for her brewmaster certification, and is now preparing to open her own craft brew pub in a newly revitalized section of Pittsburgh. But before she can start pour
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 1st 2015 by Berkley
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Joyce Tremel Thanks for the question. Sorry it took so long to get to it. I forget to check these!

It's written for adults, but it's appropriate for high school…more
Thanks for the question. Sorry it took so long to get to it. I forget to check these!

It's written for adults, but it's appropriate for high school age kids. My main character is a brewmaster so it might actually show kids that age that beer is not made for them to drink to excess. Brewing is more of an art form.

Also, there's very little in the way of swearing, and there's no sex or explicit violence.(less)

Community Reviews

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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  732 ratings  ·  182 reviews

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Lisa Ks Book Reviews
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
A strong start to the Brewing Trouble Mystery series, TO BREW OR NOT TO BREW, is suds above in originality.

I don’t drink beer. I know nothing about beer. But I do know good writing when I read it, and author Joyce Tremel is a good writer. One of the things I love about cozy mysteries is learning about new subjects. While beer isn’t something I would set out to study about, Ms. Tremel made me enjoy what I learned.

This book had an easy flow that propelled the story along at a great pace. With ve
Penny Watson
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the premise for this cozy series...woman-brewer who opens a new pub in Pittsburgh, my home town!

It had a nice romance "brewing"...ugh, that was bad. Sorry.

I really enjoyed the details about beer, and I loved the Pittsburgh setting. The neighborhood around her restaurant is filled with fun shops and interesting characters.

Looking forward to reading the next book!

Grade: B
Mark Baker
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, mystery
Maxine “Max” O’Hara is only a month away from opening her new brewpub in Pittsburg. Unfortunately, she is having very bad luck with things that keep going wrong. Her friend Kurt, who is supposed to be in charge of the kitchen, thinks it is sabotage. After he calls Max one night, she arrives to find him dead in the brewery. Was he right? Can Max find the killer before her new business tanks?

While the book started with a bang, it then slowed down a bit to set up the series before fully getting int
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
Dollycas’s Thoughts

This series is off to an exceptional start. This author has a strong cozy voice and she has written quite a mystery.

Hometown girl, Maxine “Max” O’Hara, comes back from Germany ready to open The Allegheny Brew House. But clearly someone is doing everything they can to prevent her from opening. The acts of vandalism were troublesome but finding her chef Kurt Schmidt dead in one of her precious vats made her wonder if her dream was ever going to come true. Her dad, a police detec
Diane ~Firefly~
A good start to a new mystery series.

Max is opening up her own brew pub but weird things have been happening. And when she finds a dead body, she realizes the problems aren't accidents. Now she needs to find a new chef while figuring out who wants to stop her business from opening enough to kill for it.

What I enjoyed:
* Max. I liked her for the most part. She is determined to get her business going and has some good friends and family in the area.
* Supporting characters were pretty interesting, e
Amanda McGill
Apr 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
For full review and a cute picture of my cats - The Limit of Books Does Not Exist

I really enjoyed To Brew or Not to Brew, it had a great set of characters and it’s definitely a series that I want to return to!

Maxine “Max” O’Hara is just a month away from her dream of opening her own craft brew pub in Pittsburgh. There is still a lot to do and the tragic event of losing her chef and assistant brewmaster doesn’t help with her opening fast approaching. Max swears that Kurt’s death wasn’t just a tra
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After earning her brewmaster certification in Germany, Maxine “Max” O’Hara goes to her hometown in Pittsburgh and opens her own brew house. Things get off to a rocky start, to say the least. Her assistant, Kurt Schmidt, is killed in one of the vats. The death is declared an accident, but Max is convinced it was murder. It couldn’t be a coincidence that the death followed several pranks at the brew house as they get closer to opening day.

Max’s father is a homicide detective but he’s ruling on the
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cozy, cooking, mystery
I must admit, when I started this book, I had some mixed emotions. I'm from western PA, but have never been a big fan of Pittsburgh, so I was afraid I would hate the setting. I also rarely start a brand new series, for fear I'll love it and have to wait too long for the next book. Happily, though my second fear was realized, my first fear was unfounded. If I lived in that area, I could spend a lot of time on Butler Street! This is the street where most of the action in To Brew Or Not To Brew tak ...more
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
To Brew Ir Not To Brew is the first book in the A Brewing Trouble Mystery series

A great beginning to a very fun new series.

Maxine “ Max” O'Hara is looking forward to opening her brewpub in about a month, but there have been unexplained small acts of vandalism occurring while the remodeling has been going on. Then one evening, Max gets a call from Kurt, her assistant brew master and chef, telling her to come back as he has found the reason for the vandalism. When she arrives, she cannot find him,
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
First of all I want to say thank you to Goodreads that I was able to win this novel in a giveaway! I can't remember the last time I won anything of any kind so thank you for the huge thrill I got from the "you're a winner!" Email. Secondly I need to tell everybody who intends on reading this novel, DO NOT read the acknowledgments first!! It ended up giving away the who the murderer was (not by directly saying who it is, but if you put two and two together you can figure it out real quick), so do ...more
Dawn Frazier
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have to start by saying that I was on the fence about reading this book, only because of the "brewery" aspect of the story. I don't drink beer, or go to bars of any kind. But, I am so glad I read this one after all, because it has now ended up being one of my very favorite books of the year!!! I loved it!!! Fantastic writing, and characters, and I love the setting of Pittsburgh, as it is one of my favorite cities. I love the hockey references, (especially to the Penguins, my favorite hockey te ...more
Janet S
Dec 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great start to a new series. I loved that the setting was so different - a brew pub. I loved Max and Jake. I also liked the Jake was an ex-hockey player. Fun story! I can't wait for the next one - Tangled Up In Brew.
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
Not a bad read, not a really good read, IMHO, but a fair read. Learned more about beer than I ever wanted to know (not a beer drinker), but the mystery wasn't bad. I'll read the next one.
Colleen Shogan
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were likable and well developed, the premise was enjoyable, and I loved reading a mystery set in Pittsburgh. Joyce gets PIttsburgh right in this book, which I appreciated. I am really happy I found a new mystery series to read.
Tyrannosaurus regina
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cozy, mystery
While I can't say I didn't enjoy this, I swear the book never met a genre cliche it didn't want to kiss with tongue.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No spoilers

I really liked this book. The mystery was well thought out, with plenty of red herrings. Looking forward to reading the next in the series.
If looks could kill, the plumbing inspector giving me the bad news would have been in big trouble.

Maxine "Max" O'Hara has returned to Pittsburgh to open a specialty brewpub in the revitalized Lawrenceville section of town. Repeated mishaps have her assistant brewmaster, Kurt Schmidt, suspecting sabotage. The evening after a cut waterline, Kurt calls Max at home and tells her he knows who the culprit is. Unfortunately, Kurt is dead in the brewery when Max arrives. Her dad is the first homicide de
Peggy R
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a nice new voice in the cozy mystery genre. I picked up this book because of some of the advance reviews, but also because I love the cover and the fact that this is a new theme for cozy mysteries. I don't think I have every seen one set in a brewery. I also liked that the brewer was female. The book grabbed me from the start. As I said, I like the premise but I found the characters to be well written with a solid mystery. You would think for as many cozy mysteries as I read, I would be ...more
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozy-mystery
Easy to read and enjoyable. I picked up on a whim because the concept of a female brewer and a adoptive kitten. I have some friends who love going to breweries a lot, so reading some of the behind the scenes info on setting one up and what goes into brewing was interesting.

I don't read a lot of mysteries because often they start off with horrible deaths from 1st person viewpoint (yuck), are too gory, too convoluted and thrilleristic (as in no 'normal' person could be sane after all that!).

Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Cute. A classic cozy mystery full of quirky characters and amateur sleuthing. DON'T be like me and read the author's note (front of book in the paperback) before reading the novel; it gives away a key part of the mystery.

After training as a brewmaster in Germany, Max O'Hara returns to Pittsburgh and loving embrace of her large Irish Catholic family (and over protective brothers) to open her own brewery and pub . . . but as the pub's about to open, murder is brewing.

(Yes, I went for the pun.)

I loved this book, of course I could be biased since I grew up in Pittsburgh. Max is a likable strong woman trying to get her craft beer brewery up and running, but small problems keep popping up. When she finds her chef dead, and nobody believes that it was murder, she decides to step in and find answers. The story starts strong and then lags a little as secondary characters are brought in, many of which I love, Candy the sports fan is one of my favorites. The story picks up momentum with twist ...more
CJ - It's only a Paper Moon
While this book was entertaining it suffered from a main character who had the potential to be awesome but fell down the TSTL path.

Everything and everyone just seemed a bit simple. The biggest clue was ignored and who the heck goes around accusing each other of murder? Who does that and doesn't expect retaliation?

Anyway, it's an ok book with some potential but the author needs to learn a little more about brewing so that it doesn't come off as reading a textbook (also, shortening the explanatio
Nov 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I liked this novel. While I was reading it all I could think of was, "who did it?" It was great as the author kept throwing hints about who the killer was and who might have been vandalizing the brewery but there was nothing definitive until the end. I had an inkling and that inkling turned out to be the correct answer.

This is a great mystery book and I really like the premise. If you like mystery, romance and food this is a great book for you. I don't want to spoil it, I encourage you to give i
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
To Brew or Not to Brew is a cozy mystery set in a Pittsburgh brewpub. As Maxine "Max" O'Hara prepares to open her own craft brewpub, the pub is beset by a number of suspicious events, including the death of her assistant brewmaster and chef. Undeterred, she perseveres with the plans for the pub's grand opening as well as trying to figure out who doesn't want the pub to open. Along the way she is assisted by an interesting cast of characters -- old and new friends as well as members of her family ...more
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Good cozy mystery set in my hometown. Max is a brew master setting up her own brewpub. Her chef is murdered shortly before opening day. With a dad as a homicide detective she is not about to accept the verdict of an accident so she must find the murderer.

I enjoyed this book very much. Ms. Tremel got the flavor of Pittsburgh and its language right. She incorporated some of the history into the story. I liked Max and Jake, her crush from childhood. They work well together. Max's extended family is
Sue Em
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Exceptionally fun new series set in Pittsburgh with a fantastic sense of place to the book as well as in the untapped «pun intended» world of craft brewing. Engaging characters.... and I can't wait for the next book to come out and to learn more about thrm
Judith Schneider
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is well-written, fast-paced and so engaging! I love the setting and can't wait to read about Max's next adventure. Thanks, Joyce Tremel for a wonderful reading experience!!
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
The main character needs to stop accusing people of murder, but otherwise a solid start to a new series. Although I was a little surprised her cop dad encouraged her.
Kaitlin G
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing book. I really liked the different plot than most cozy mysteries. The fact that the main back story was more about the main character and her making her brewery dream come true and of course the who did it mystery. I cannot wait to read the next one. I have already bought the next two in the series!
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Joyce Tremel was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail.

Her debut novel, TO BREW OR NOT TO BREW was nominated for a 2015 Reviewers’ Choice Award for best amateur sleuth by RT Book Reviews.

The second book in the series TANGLED UP IN BREW, was released 10.4.2016. It was chosen as a

Other books in the series

Brewing Trouble (3 books)
  • Tangled Up in Brew (Brewing Trouble, #2)
  • A Room With a Brew (Brewing Trouble, #3)