Book Review: The Field Guide to Drinking in America

The Field Guide to Drinking in America

When one travels across this great country of ours obtaining a drink can at times be a challenge. Each and every state has a few quirky alcohol laws that can make the pursuit of alcohol a mystery. This potential confusion can be remedied from reading The Field Guide to Drinking in America published by Overcup Press.

The Field Guide was written by Niki Ganong, a Portland based food and drink writer. Over the past three years Ganong took the initial idea of writing The Field Guide from its initial concept and to finally bring it to print. The result is an interesting journey through all 50 states and D.C. while discovering some of the archaic drinking laws that encompass each and every state in America.

The book’s launch party will be held tonight, April 13th at the White Owl Social Club from 6:00 to 9:00pm, the night before the 2015 Craft Brewers Conference kicks off. This will be the first chance to pick up The Field Guide as its official release date is April 21st. and best of all, Ganong will be on hand to personally sign a copy.

The Field Guide is the perfect travel companion to assist those that travel across the United States regarding the alcohol laws of each state. These laws vary once you cross state lines just and some of the laws that are on the books are quite fascinating. After reading The Field Guide you too will be drinking like a local. The Field Guide to Drinking in America by Niki Ganong (Book Cover)

“The concept of creating a travel guide for drinkers was conceived, fittingly, on a plane. Both of the partners at Overcup and I are all from control states, live in a control state and travel, so we recognize the benefit in knowing a place like a local. I started digging for information and discovered that a book like this had never been done before. So, it was an opportunity to contribute something useful to two subjects that we love dearly: drinking and traveling,” states Ganong.

“Everything else, all of the historical anecdotes and factoids, came while researching. Alcohol is an intricate part of human culture, and the through it the book presents a rough chronology of America as a nation. As the country grew westward, so does our narrative. From the New England Puritans who had to import barley from England, to the mid-western industrialists who gave us big brewing in the 19th century, to the California vintners whose output rivals that of any nation in Europe: it’s the story of America told through alcohol.”

From reading The Field Guide, one will gain a better understanding of each state’s alcohol laws and some intriguing history. When opening the chapter on Iowa one will learn about the lore of Templeton Rye and how this whiskey turned Templeton, a small town in Iowa a well-known place to gain access to this fine elixir during Prohibition.

Many know that Washington State produces the most hops here in the U.S. but are you aware that Idaho is the top barley producer? In Oregon it is illegal (and foolish) to “waterski or surf while drunk”. Not only was the Moscow Mule created in the state of Connecticut but you can also thank the state’s oldest bar, Billy Wilson’s Aging Still for creating the Irish Car Bomb back in 1979.

Theses stories and more are throughout the book. Each state has 4 pages dedicated to its alcohol laws. Ganong fills The Field Guide with much more information that will enlighten the reader on Sunday “blue laws” of certain states and growler refill laws along with where you can get your bottle of wine from a restaurant re-corked to travel back home. In addition to these tidbits, there are some great tips from brewers, bartenders and others from each state on what they recommend while visiting.

Tonight’s release party will be a great opportunity to pick up a copy The Field Guide prior to it hitting bookstore shelves on April 21st. To make the party go more smoothly, Gigantic Brewing will be the featured brewery as it pours its new Fancy Pants Raspberry Sour, Gigantic IPA, and Ginormous Imperial IPA. There will also be some complimentary snacks.

The Field Guide to Drinking in America by Niki Ganong Back Photo Jacket

The next signing will be on May 2nd at Belmont Station. You can keep abreast of Ganong’s happenings by following her on Twitter at @SudsSister or by checking out the book’s website at