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Drinking With George: A Barstool Professional's Guide to Beer

Drinking With George: A Barstool Professional’s Guide to Beer

by George Wendt with Jonathan Grotenstein

(Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2009)

You wouldn’t think it would be possible to make a career out of sitting on a barstool, but George Wendt has done just that. He’s best remembered for playing Norm Peterson on the hit TV show Cheers, but the joke was on us. He wasn’t acting.

George has been a beer connoisseur forever, and his light, conversational style (with help from co-author Jonathan Grotenstein) makes this an easy read, for Norm fans and beer fans in general. I couldn’t help but get the feeling I was sitting next to Norm and Cliff Claven on one of Cheers’ barstools personally listening to Wendt weave his yarns.

Although not a biography in the strictest sense, nevertheless you’ll read about Wendt’s growing up Catholic, his high school and college years (who’d have thought he went to Notre Dame—not finishing, though, as the beer just couldn’t seem to keep out of the way), and how it all somehow managed to revolve around beer, or the pursuit of it. After college he spent time working in his father’s real estate office, but only for the purpose of saving up enough to trot off to Europe with his friends for some exotic beer-drinking and easy living. This back-and-forth actually went on for a few years before he was forced to choose a career — a career with his hometown Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe. The rest, as they say, is history.

It’s not all George/Norm in the book. Wendt throws in some beer history, suggestions for serving beer at home, the obligatory (in these politically correct times) mea culpas for some past indiscretions behind the wheel, an amusing list of (more than) one hundred ways to say you’re drunk, and an interesting argument which tries to settle the age-old question of which came first—beer or bread?

Throw in some old photos, cooking-with-beer suggestions, and a funny story about his traveling softball team (Paris, London, Hong Kong—when they said traveling, they meant traveling), and you’ve found a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. It wouldn’t hurt to have a few cold ones within arm’s reach as you turn the pages, either.

jim corbran

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