Book Review: Tapping the West by Scott Messenger

tapping

Title: Tapping the West: How Alberta’s Craft Beer Industry Bubbled Out of an Economy Gone Flat

Author: Scott Messenger

Release date: May 5th, 2020

I know, I know, this isn’t a horror book or a sci-fi book or something deep and dark with gore and evisceration, but I read throughout a lot of genres and this book came to me in a special kind of way.

You see, way back in August of this year (2021), I was invited to my very first author event. I know! Exciting. It was at the best bookstore here in Edmonton, Daisy Chain Bookstore on 124th Street, and I was over the moon to be asked to participate. There were four of us there, introducing ourselves and reading from our work, and one of those authors just happened to Scott Messenger. I can’t say why, maybe it was us being the two males on the panel, or the telepathic connection that we both shared the same sense of humor, but we clicked and we chatted for most of the night and have stayed connected through Instagram.

This book, typically, would never in a million years interest me based on topic. You see, I don’t drink alcohol. Where I grew up, alcohol took the lives of a number of residents, grabbed others by the throat and had them spiral into addiction and helplessness or simply seemed to act as a force to keep many of my classmates in the small town. Now, don’t get me wrong – I have nothing wrong with drinking for social aspects and enjoyment of taste (I do take great issue with alcohol abuse and drunk driving) but I’m someone who can have a great time without getting drunk.

But, it was Scott’s description and reading of this book that really had it grab a hold of me. It was an interesting idea. He started a blog, One Year of Alberta Beer, and it took off. And from that the history of Craft Beer in the province unfolded and soon Scott had a book on his hands.

What I liked: Funny enough, this book ended up having two things I typically don’t find myself drawn to in books I read or want to read – a lot of information on beer and humor! But, I have to tell you, Scott’s writing is a joy and it worked really well.

The book follows him as he not only visits almost four dozen breweries of Craft Beer around the province, but dives into the history of the brewing. How it came to rise as an alternative to the major brewers and how they used different ingredients to turn their liquid into a chef’s menu, allowing those who enjoy this type of alcohol to have so many varieties to sample.

Throughout, Scott really does a great job of showcasing the struggle that it took to get the industry up and going, and how it took time for them to gain any respect. To push past a “local” tag and grow into a renowned industry. I really enjoyed seeing the major players and how they pushed against the big brewers while also tentatively respecting the other micro breweries that were also entering the scene.

What I didn’t like: In this case, instead of discussing a plot point or character I didn’t care for, as someone who doesn’t drink, I was lost when Scott was discussing flavors and ways of producing the product. I got it and know the basics, but those parts were not for me! Ha!

Why you should buy this: This is a really great look at a significant historical rise in not only the Albertan Craft Beer Industry, but Craft Beer in general. As well, the thoroughness Scott has included, while making it not only readable, but enjoyable and having perfect laugh points, showcases his talent as a writer. This one would make for a perfect read for someone who enjoys underdogs vs major player books, historical fans, beer fans, or even fans of Canadian non-fiction. I will say, it was a very insightful look at how entrepreneurs persevered when everybody around them thought they’d fail.

Outstanding book.

5/5

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