Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Drunken Botanist: Inspired by Reading Book Club

The June selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club is a book that I remember seeing in advance reader copies at a library conference when it was about to be published.  I was intrigued but my success rate for actually reading adult ARCs is pretty sad so I walked away.  Needless to say, I was happy to see The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart on our reading list for this year.  My husband is a homebrewer and has dabbled in wine, mead, and cider making as well.  Additionally I've also gotten a little more into cocktails and am still learning what I really like (and dislike!) when it comes to that. So what I'm saying is that the subject matter was of personal interest.

Generally speaking, I'm more of a fan of narrative nonfiction... nonfiction books that tell a story.  The Drunken Botanist is more of an encyclopedia of ingredients used to make, flavor, and garnish alcoholic beverages from around the world and that made it pretty challenging for me to read all the way through.  I liked the way she broke it down into three parts: plants that get fermented to make alcohol, plants used to flavor various alcoholic beverages, and then mixers and garnishes.

With my attention issues and time crunch problems (my goodness but June has been a crazy busy month!), I ended up skipping around quite a bit and focusing on ingredients that were particularly interesting to me or that just jumped out when I was flipping through the pages.  For instance, I was a little blown away to learn that the cashew is related to poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac and its outer shell has similar oils that will cause an uncomfortable rash.  Weirder still, the nut grows at the bottom of a "cashew apple" that looks sort of like a pear or apple but isn't actually a fruit at all (the nut is the fruit).

Weird cashew plants.
I had lots of potential ideas swirling (mixing?) around in my head like an exotic cocktail but ended up focusing on beer.  Delicious and diverse beer.  Shocking, right?  Ok, maybe not so shocking, especially since I just came back from a trip to Michigan for the National Homebrewers Convention.  While I was at the convention I picked up a lanyard with the color chart (SRM chart) that judges use when evaluating beer.  I won't bore you with all the details but you can find out more about it HERE if you are interested, but here is one version of the chart:

Beers can range from super pale yellow to almost black depending on the beer style and the types of grains used to make them... I decided to make a necklace that represented this beer rainbow!  I chose a variety of beads in Czech glass, crystal, and even some smoky quartz to represent the range of colors and made a fairly simple linked necklace.  I really could (should?) have used a black bead in the middle if I wanted to be totally true to the scale, but I wanted to keep to more transparent beads for a certain look.

Enjoy and go pour yourself your favorite color of beer as you check out what everyone else made for the blog hop!  As always, you can get the full list of links over on Andrew Thornton's blog HERE.


  1. Really like how your necklace relates to the Beer Color Chart. It is gorgeous.

  2. I love your beer rainbow necklace! It's just so pretty in and of itself, but also such a clever relation the the topic of the book.

  3. I always love reading about how you enjoyed the book and what you were thinking when you made your necklace. Your process is so interesting and you write so well. Love the color chart for beers and how you turned it into a lovely and elegant necklace. My favorite beer color is a light amber I think!!

  4. Your necklace is simply beautiful! I love that there's nothing fussy about it. It's a perfect representation of the Beer Color Chart. And, no, it does not need a black bead.
    ps - are you driving to PA in October? Perhaps Eric should bring some of his home brew. :)

  5. Thanks everyone! And Jeanne, we aren't driving but we are planning on bringing home brew in October. We are used to traveling with bottles in our suitcases!

  6. Fantastic! I love the umbra effect. The graduation of colors and how you linked everything together is really lovely! Great job! And I think it captures the chart idea perfectly! Now I want a beer! Thanks so much for participating!

  7. I'm even more excited for October now that I've read the comments!

  8. Wow, your necklace was such a great idea! And you pulled it off flawlessly! Thanks for playing!