John Holl (pictured) is likely a familiar face to anyone who’s attended the past two editions of BevOps Fleet Summit. During his tasting tutorials at each event, Holl guided the audience of beverage operations pros through the diversity of flavors and styles offered by U.S. craft brewers. Now he’ll be educating the palates of a larger audience with “The American Craft Beer Cookbook,” available from Storey Publishing. The book includes 155 food recipes from breweries and brewpubs around the country. He took some time to tell Beverage World a little bit about that.
BEVERAGE WORLD: Why go the cookbook route for your latest beer book?
John Holl: We’re at a point in the craft beer revolution where people are really starting to appreciate how beer and food can come together wonderfully. There are a lot of drinkers who are now used to the various styles on the market, from IPAs to porters and barley wines. They realize there’s more than just lager out there. As they’re experiencing new flavors, they’re finding ways to bring those to the dining table. This book hopefully helps that happen.
BW: How did you select the breweries?
Holl: What I wanted to do was get a large cross-section of breweries from around the country and breweries that also specialize in different areas and, in some ways, are representatives of their home region. And that way I was able to find recipes that are native to, say, Louisiana or the Southwest or the Northeast. And by bringing these recipes together I’m able to tell the story about not only where we are with American beer right now but also the food that defines us as a country.
BW: How did you get all of those breweries on board?
Holl: I looked at the full list of breweries in America at the time, I think we were around 2,200 when I started. A lot of it was breweries I was aware of or had made a great impression on me in the past. I knew they made great beer and were really leading the charge, either in their area or the beer industry as a whole. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re famous or household names. I reached out to them to see if they wanted to be part of the book... And I was able to get a list of about 250 and get that down to the 155 that were in the book, which was not an easy task, which means there’s probably a second volume in there somewhere.
BW: What surprised you the most over the course of the project?
Holl: If you drink a lot of beer and eat a lot of food, there are so many that work well together, but what surprised me was there were so many more that never occurred to me. Relying on the palates and experiences of so many talented chefs and brewers, I was able to broaden my own education.
BW: Who’s the core reader?
Holl: I think that right now we’re at a point where craft beer comprises about 10 percent of the marketplace or so. People who are well-versed in beer and food will find a lot of things they like in this book. I’m trying to talk to the other 90 percent and tell them that while wine is fine, beer does have a place at the dining table.
Purchase "The American Craft Beer Cookbook" at Amazon.com