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The Great American Ale Trail: The Craft Beer Lover's Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation [Paperback]

Christian DeBenedetti

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Book Description

Sept. 6 2011
The Great American Ale Trail is the definitive guide to the best places to drink craft beer in America. Author Christian DeBenedetti has traveled across the country to find the worthiest beer destinations, from major breweries to tiny farmhouse startups.With hundreds of entries, including top-ten lists for "Best Dive Bars for Craft Beer Lovers", "Best Beer Festivals", and "Best Beer Cities", The Great American Ale Trail is sure to set anyone on their first beer pilgrimage.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press (Sept. 6 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762443758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762443758
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 18.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #426,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Jack Hitt, author of "BUNCH OF AMATEURS: A Search for the American Character" (Crown, 2011)
"Christian DeBenedetti's book is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Charlie Papazian, author THE COMPLETE JOY of HOMEBREWING, and MICROBREWED ADVENTURES; founder of the Great American Beer Festival
"Beer is a personal endeavor anyway you look at it.  Christian DeBenedetti’s Great American Ale Trail provides a good dose of nourishment, eloquently awakening a thirst for America’s craft brews.  Detours, “scenes,” local heroes, beer philosophy, key brews, “best of the rest” and suggested itineraries unzip America’s golden age of beer.  It’s the perfect companion for your next road trip!"
Margo True, Food Editor, Sunset magazine; author, THE ONE-BLOCK FEAST
"What a great read this is—packed with places I instantly want to visit and fizzing with fun, enlightening glimpses of the coolest aspects of our nation’s craft-beer renaissance. I can’t wait to take a few of these roadtrips. They promise a whole new way to see and taste America."
“Great beers are about places, not just where they're made, but where we get to drink them, and there's no better tour guide than Christian, who's picked the best breweries, best bars, and best bar snacks (Juneau? That'd be the pelmeni) for the thirsty wanderer in all of us. His book is the best answer yet to that eternal question, as old as travel itself: Where can I get a drink around here?”
Dan Dunn, author of  "LIVING LOADED: Tales of Sex, Salvation and the Pursuit of the Never-Ending Happy Hour"
"Easily the most thirst-inducing book ever written. Three cheers to Christian DeBenedetti for mapping out the route to beer heaven. It's about damn time someone got around to writing the definitive guide to beer bars in America. I was afraid I was going to have to do it."
Hampton Sides, editor-at-large for Outside magazine and author of Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier
“From sea to foaming sea, we've become a great Beer Hoisting Nation. And Christian DeBenedetti is our convivial, savvy, and good-humored guide. The result of his dedicated wanderings is a tangy compendium that's part travelogue, part practical handbook, and part cultural history, giving us fresh perspective on the Hop Revolution that has quietly overtaken our land, one pint at a time. Carry this book with you on your own cross-continental travels, and bring it home stained and sour—a field manual soaked with happy memories."
Sam Calagione, President & Founder, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Christian has been an evangelist for and card-carrying member of the craft brewing community for many years. And now, with this book, his encyclopedic knowledge of American brewery geography and mythology is right at your fingertips.  There are over 1800 commercial breweries in this country and the average American lives within 10 miles of at least one brewery and a short road trip away from hundreds of them. So get truckin' and explore the vibrant, diverse, craft brewing landscape America is now internationally known for.”
Jim Koch, Founder and Brewer, Samuel Adams
"Christian is the Christopher Columbus of beer, exploring the craft beer scene and discovering new brews, one draft at a time. The tales from his recent journey across the country are an enlightening look into the American craft beer renaissance we are experiencing today. If he had set out on this expedition 30 years ago, his book would have only been a few pages long - and his beer tab, much less expensive."


About the Author

Christian DeBenedetti's food and travel articles have appeared in The New York Times, Food & Wine, Men's Journal, National Geographic, Saveur, and other publications. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing--Much Less than I Expected Oct. 14 2011
By Terry Sunday - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When I decided to buy "The Great American Ale Trail," it had seven glowing five-star reviews that influenced my decision, but the "Look Inside" feature was not active at the time. Had it been, I probably would have decided against buying it.

I realize that any book purporting to be a "Craft Beer Lover's Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation" can't possibly include ALL brewpubs, microbreweries and fine beer bars, and that's okay. This doesn't affect my rating of the book, since it is totally a matter of personal opinion and probably limited space. Still, some parts of the country are very underrepresented. For example, there's no mention of The Sharp Edge, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which reportedly has the best selection of Belgians in the country. In fact, there's no mention of ANY establishments in western Pennsylvania, such as Fat Heads (try the Hop Juju), Full Pint or Rivertowne. All of the Pennsylvania places that Mr. DeBenedetti covers are near Philadelphia. Also omitted, for instance, are the North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, California (Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, anyone?) and The Hoppy Monk, with 65 taps, in El Paso, Texas. Six of the seven places in Texas are in Austin and one is in Fort Worth. Is there really nothing in Dallas, Houston or San Antonio? Southern New Mexico gets short shrift as well. All five of the establishments mentioned are in Albuquerque or Santa Fe, with no coverage of the well-regarded High Desert Brewing Company in Las Cruces that has been crafting award-winning beers for many years.

Again, I'm sorry to see such omissions, but that doesn't affect my rating of "The Great American Ale Trail." Two other factors, however, DO affect my opinion of the book. First, it has no maps in it, which, at least for me, reduces its value considerably. I'd like to be able to look at a state or regional map with the establishments marked on it (such as those in the Sterns' "Roadfood") and be able to say, "Well, here are a few places near where I'll be traveling--I think I'll check them out." I can't do that if there are no maps. The other problem is that, with some exceptions, Mr. DeBenedetti mentions only one beer per establishment. Here's an example--the beer he profiles for Stone Brewing Company is the 4.4% ABV Levitation Ale. Fans of extreme beers (of which Stone is a leading producer) will immediately realize how little Levitation actually represents the full Stone beer lineup. I think it would have been much more useful for Mr. DeBenedetti to provide a list of beers normally available at each establishment. Such lists certainly would be subject to change, but at least the reader could get a quick feel for the range of styles offered.

So I guess my bottom line is that I find "The Great American Ale Trail" to be a lot less useful than I hoped it would be. While it does identify many places for a beer enthusiast to try, I think most travelers will have to rely heavily on other sources to plan a beer quest. The book's poor usability and lack of information on the specific range of beers offered at each place mean that it will probably just gather dust on one of my bookshelves while I go on-line to plan future trips.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent guide Sept. 6 2011
By Gail Perry - Published on
"The Great American Ale Trail" is an excellent addition to my can't-hit-the-road-without-this travel book collection. This book is so much more than a listing of beeratoriums across the country. Your time will be well spent as you immerse yourself in local color, anecdotes, history, and amazingly well-detailed descriptions of craft beers that will make you thirst for the beers themselves and also will give you the knowledge and confidence to venture into new places on the map and try the local brews. The Ale Trail is a travelogue that sets the bar a notch higher for informative food guides. Not only will you learn more about the craft beers in your own vicinity, you'll find yourself looking up cities where you have friends, reading them excerpts from the book, and encouraging them to go out and explore the craft beers in their home towns. A must for any foodie's library.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Great!! March 2 2012
By jbc - Published on
The Ale Trail makes me want to quit my job, visit all the places. Its a Napa wine tour of beers, but much more fun, not wine stuffy. ALready led me to a few great craft breweries I never knew existed, excited that it talks about so many more. Great, great fun book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Jan. 24 2012
By boisebeer - Published on
I bought this book and had it signed while at the GABF this past year in Denver. I ended up reading the majority of the states close to me while on the flight back to Boise. Some area's are less covered then others but for the most part there is a good sampling of beer locations covered. Not only is it breweries but also tap houses ect. Really easy to read and easy to jump around in. Page 20 doesn't have to come after page 10.

Thanks for the book.....
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Travel Companion Aug. 30 2011
By Luke Fletcher - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great read and a great guide to the best watering holes in the country. Definitely a must-have for the next time I'm on tour. Well done, Christian!

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