Lucy Burningham,  My Beer Year

With the subtitle of “Adventures with hop farmers, craft brewers, chefs, beer sommeliers & fanatical drinkers as a beer master in training”, it sounds like a lot to dig into. And it is; the Master Cicerone is beer’s equivalent to wine’s Master Sommelier. And when Burningham decided to take the leap and get her certification, she’d no idea the level of dedication she’d signed up for. Luckily, she tackles her year of living with beer just as dutifully as she did her beer studies, delivering a fun real-life tale. Burningham talks about her life, beer, beer history (including the role women played in the early millennia of brewing), and the Cicerone program with equal passion. This is a woman who not only knows beer, but knows herself. I was equal parts charmed and jealous as hell. This is a gal I’d love to share a few pints with, not only because she knows her beer stuff, but because she seems like a great pub-mate.

Are there some hiccups? Sure. When comparing the GABF to SDCC, she says, “like Comic-Con does for Trekkies…” Oh punkin’. Obviously she a normie. Burningham also drops a few names in beer history – past and present – with no background. Thank goodness for Google, because I’d no idea Josef Groll created Pilsner Urquell. This only confirmed exactly how much of a beer dilettante I truly am.

Getting an insiders look at how beer is made, hops are grown and selected, and everything else that goes on behind the scenes is fascinating to this beer novice. There’s a lot of great information about beer, brewing, and even cleaning up. Yep, cleaning up. Ever see sludge come out of your washer or jet tub? Ick. As much as I wanted to crack open a few of my favorite brews while reading – when in Rome – I decided against it. I didn’t want the aromas and tastes I was experiencing to muddle the stories and information Burningham was laying down.

(Roost Books/Shambhala Publications, 2016)


Denise Kitashima Dutton has been a reviewer since 2003, and hopes to get the hang of things any moment now. She believes that bluegrass is not hell in music form, and that beer is better when it’s a nitro pour. Besides GMR, you can find her at Atomic Fangirl,, or at that end seat at the bar, multi-tasking with her Kindle.