Beer course worthy of study

By Marc Katz, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer
Not everybody gets to make a good part of his career drinking beer, but Josh Bernstein has managed it. He’ll be glad to tell you how when he opens the JCC’s Cultural Arts and Book Festival with a beer and brats event on Oct. 20.

He is the author of The Complete Beer Course, which he’ll talk about at the Warped Wing Brewing Co. downtown. All the beer served will be kosher, as will be the brats. It will be a learn-and-taste evening.

Beer maven/author Josh Bernstein
Beer maven/author Josh Bernstein

Bernstein’s story doesn’t include work as a bartender or drunken brawls, but it does include his acquiring a taste for beer and being able to wrap that knowledge into a freelance drink, food and travel writing career, which at least subliminally was his goal in the first place.

Bernstein moved to Dayton with his family when he was 7. His mom, Maryann, was a longtime director of nursing at Covenant House, while his father, Dr. Jack, was with the Veterans Administration working in the area of infectious diseases. His parents live in Englewood.

A Northmont High School graduate, Bernstein now lives with his wife and infant daughter in Brooklyn. He had no major plans when he graduated from Ohio University in 2000 with a degree in magazine journalism.

That seemed OK when he took off with some friends on a cross-country road trip that ended badly. He was left with his gear in a parking lot in Great Falls, Mont. on the first day of autumn.

He made two phone calls: the first to a friend in New Mexico who didn’t answer, the second to a friend in Boulder, Colo., who did.

He stayed on a basement couch for two weeks, then called another friend in New York who also had an extra bedroom.
“I had a series of forgettable temp jobs and after awhile, I thought I should be using my journalism degree,” Bernstein said. “I started pitching newspapers and magazines.”

He was staying deep into the night at bars, then writing stories about the experiences. They were good enough to be purchased, and after awhile, Bernstein found he wanted shorter stays in bars, giving him more time to write.

His byline has appeared in Bon Appetit, The New York Times, and Wired.

“Around 2004-05, I saw this flowering of the beer culture in America,” Bernstein said. “I started writing about craft beer.”

Although craft beer has a small share of U.S. sales — about 7.8 percent — it is growing, especially in the Dayton area.

He also wrote a book about that, Brewed Awakening.

Bernstein still drinks mass-brewed beer, but prefers craft, or smaller breweries. One thing he won’t do is tell a person he or she should be drinking something else.

“The worst thing to say to get someone to try something new is tell them they’re wrong,” Bernstein said. “I try to provide comparison points.

“If you don’t like a beer, don’t feel obligated to drink it. It’s an affordable everyday luxury. You can go to a corner store and get a well-crafted beer for $2 a bottle. You can go to a bar and for $5-6 bucks, have a great experience.”

The best way to find out about beer, he said, is to try as much as possible, with one caveat.

“Beer is great. Waking up with a hangover is not.”

The JCC Cultural Arts & Book Fest opens with Josh Bernstein, Beer & Brats on Monday, Oct. 20, 7 p.m. at Warped Wing Brewing Company, 26 Wyandot St., sponsored by Jessup Wealth Management. The cost for kosher brats and beer is $15 in advance, $20 at the door; the cost for brats only is $10 in advance, $15 at the door. R.S.V.P. to 610-1555 or at

To read the complete October 2014 Dayton Jewish Observer, click here.

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