Thursday, June 7, 2007


Christopher Mark O'Brien, Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World. New Society Publishers, 2006.

The author says that he likes to drink beer and he wants to save the world and so, naturally, the result is a book about how to drink beer and save the world. It's a clever idea, although I don't think the book itself is quite as clever as the idea of the book, if you know what I mean. Read this book and you will learn a lot about beer, its history and social significance. Maybe more than you want to know, unless you are really into beer, but interesting nonetheless.

I was drawn to the book by the obvious connection between beer and globalization. Beer is a pretty good example of how the paradox of globalization works. On one hand, industrial brewing is becoming more and more concentrated in the hands of a few global beer conglomerates, with predictable result: an ocean of Bud. At the same time, however, global networks have encouraged the growth of local microbreweries, islands of quality in that tasteless sea. I wish the author had developed this angle a bit more, but I understand that he was actually more interested in saving the world than writing about globalization.

So how do you save the world by drinking beer? There's actually a checklist of 24 things you can do provided at the end of the book. Drink local (of course), keep your refrigerator full (saves energy), recycle your empty bottles, and so on. Thanks to Johanna Wallner for suggesting this title to me.

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