So I’m sitting at my table at the big Shameless Book Con sale with copies of my Brewing Love series spread out in front of me. A browsing shopper pauses. “What are these about?” she asks. “They’re about a craft brewery in a Colorado mountain town,” I explain. “The brewmaster is the heroine of the first book, Love On Tap, and her brother, who also brews, is the hero of the second book, Saison For Love. They’re both trying to get their brewery back on its feet and find a little romance along the way.” “Oh,” says the browser. “I don’t like beer.” And off she goes. Sigh.
There’s this prejudice about beer: it’s not romantic. Wine is romantic. Champagne is romantic. Even whiskey is romantic (go figure). But beer? Not so much. Maybe it’s all those “bro” commercials featuring guys watching football and getting soused. Maybe it’s the image of beer as part of masculine rites of passage. For whatever reason, nobody seems to think of beer as part of a romantic evening. Add to this the fact that American beer manufacturers seem to have given up on marketing beer to women, and you can see that beer’s a hard sell in the romance department.
But I live in Colorado, aka Craft Beer Central, and I’ve seen lots of women drinking beer, serving beer, and brewing beer. Moreover, I’ve seen lots of couples nuzzling over their steins and grabbing their growlers to go. In real life, in other words, beer is just as likely to lead to romance as any other form of alcohol.
I got interested in doing a series built around a craft brewery as I started visiting some of the local breweries in my town. It takes less time to brew most beers than it does to make wine or whiskey, and it’s not as expensive to establish a brewery as it is a winery. Thus a lot of craft brewers are young people with a talent for brewing and a yen to share their unique beers. That’s the situation with Antero Brewing, my mythical brewery in the equally mythical Antero, Colorado (full disclosure: Antero bears a striking resemblance to the real Crested Butte). Antero Brewing was founded by a brother and sister duo, Bec and Liam Dempsey, along with their good friend and financial backer Colin Brooks. But Colin took off after a couple of years, along with his money. Love On Tap dealt with Bec’s struggle to keep the brewery afloat based on a barrel of imperial stout. She gets some help from Denver brewpub owner Wyatt Montgomery, who manages to save Bec from disaster while the two fall in love. In Saison For Love, Liam confronts his own crisis when he tries to find a way to stay in Antero and convince his own lady love, Ruth Colbert, to give him another chance. In the end, he wins by brewing a special saison just for Ruth.
Wild Love, the third book in the trilogy, begins with the return of Colin Brooks. Bec and Liam are both justifiably furious with him for leaving them in the lurch. And to compound his problems, Colin has lost all the money he had to invest. He has to prove himself to the Dempseys and everyone else associated with Antero Brewing. It’s a tough situation, and the only thing Colin has going for him is Peaches Guidry, baker extraordinaire and collector of lost souls. Colin must prove himself to the Dempseys and show Peaches he’s worthy of her love. And beer plays a big part in his journey to redemption.
So here’s the thing: these are books about people facing tough situations and coming through. And finding love along the way. You can read them even if you don’t like beer. On the other hand, if you’re open to some new tastes, you can find out some bits and pieces about beer and how it’s brewed and how it can make food taste a little better and love work a little more easily.
Beer and romance. Trust me, it’s a winning combination.