A Perfect Pint's Beer Guide to the
Michael Agnew is a Master Cicerone, a Nationally ranked Beer Judge, an author and a beer blogger. Agnew knows his beer. In A Perfect Pint's Beer Guide to the Heartland Agnew attempts to visit every brewery in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. His introduction starts a little disjointed. His section on The Rise of Megabreweries after Prohibition, is very well written and concise and helps set the stage for his discussion of craft breweries. The next two sections - Minnesota's Beer, the History of Grain Belt and Brewery Caves Then and Now, however, do not quite fit and make the book a litle lopsidedly Minnesotan. The book can get by without them but if they are necessary, then put an section on the brewing traditions of each state into each state's intoduction.
Agnew faces a daunting task. He writes this book 2012 - 2014 at a time of exponential growth of the craft brewing industry and breweries and rumors of breweries keep popping up as he is trying to finish the book and many more breweries exist now than when he started writing. The book suffers the same fate as all the guides to breweries witten now days - it is obsolete even before it gets to the printer.
That said, he book has many strengths that set it apart from other beer travel guides. Agnew knows his beer. He has visited the vast majority of brewer he writes about and has tried the beers. For each brewery he provides contact information, owners, brewmaster, location, a short review of his favorite beer, a list of signature beers, special releases, and seasonal beers, information on tours, amenities, food, hours, and nearby attractions. He then provides brief notes about the brewery. Even if the book does not include every brewery and taproom in the heartland, he covers most of them and Agnew provides essential, well written concise information. If you are looking for a beer travel guide of the heartland, this book is the book to buy.