Monday, December 28, 2009

"Drinking With George" by George Wendt

We all know hin as "Norm" on the TV sitcom "Cheers" where he plays a beer loving patron on a stool. Turns out not to be too far from reality.

In this quickly read and amusing book, Mr. Wendt describes his love of beer while mixing in some autobiographical sketches. His love for beer began in his native city of Chicago as a young boy. Armed with a note from his Grandfather or Mother, he would go to the saloon and bring home the beer. At 8 years old he takes his first taste and falls instantly in love with the brew.

Exploring the history of beer, he takes us back several thousand years to explain how beer first was discovered and then refined through the ages. He even explores the micro breweries that are so popular today.

Some of the book concerns ways to make your beer more potent- there are many ways. "Freezing" beer seems to be the easiest. Since water freezes and alcohol does not, you can put beer in the freezer and then scrape off the frozen part, which is water. The remaining portion is a more potent beer. Simple, but effective. The list goes on- freezing beer with CO2 fire extinguishers is another example.

Mr. Wendt describes and explores the differences in American and European drinking customs. His wit and story telling abilities are both on full display here.

The book is not one dimensional at all. The comedy scene of Chicago in the 1970's is fully explored. Luminaries such as John Belushi abound in stories of the legendary Second City, the comedy club that spawned a score of todays most famous comedians.

This was a surprise read for me- I was never much of a "Cheers" fan. Having been at sea for most of a decade I missed alot of TV. But I am glad that I did not miss this witty testimonial to one of Mans' Best Friends- Beer.

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