Kent State professor crafts book on beer


Trustee professor Paul Gaston holds his book, “Ohio’s Craft Beers,” which he released two weeks ago, in Moulton Hall on Monday, April 4, 2016. Gaston’s book documents over 40 of Ohio’s major breweries and offers in-depth profiles on their craft beers.

Alexis Amato

Kent State Trustees Professor Paul Gaston is a man of many accomplishments: A priest at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, he is also the author of three books and more than 40 scholarly articles on topics ranging from the poetry of George Herbert to academic strategic planning.

He is adding another book to his repertoire, one that took him several years to compile: “Ohio’s Craft Beers” was published on St. Patrick’s Day last month.

“What better day to publish a book on beer,” Gaston said.

Gaston’s love for craft beer started when he was in college.

“When I was in college, I had my favorites like everybody else. They were all very similar, like how Budweiser is similar to Miller and so on,” Gaston said.

After college, he went to England to do research for his dissertation.

“I began to drink the local beer, and it was just so much better than anything I’ve ever had before. I thought, ‘this is really wonderful. I wonder why we can’t have beer this good in the United States.’ ”

Once back home, Gaston searched around for a beer that interested him.

“The growth of craft brewing is something I’ve really been interested in,” he said. “They’ve introduced so many new styles and they’ve emphasized freshness and they’ve emphasized accessibility.”

The inspiration to write the book came when a friend sent him a book about craft beer of Indiana. He thought, “There needs to be one of these for Ohio,” he said.

Gaston visited around 45 breweries in Ohio over the course of two years. Working around his day job as a professor, he’d mainly make the trips during the summer.

“It was a great experience,” Gaston said. “I like craft brewers themselves; they’re friendly people and they like what they do.”

Gaston would visit three breweries in a day and then do the write-ups at night. He had two strict rules when it came to these visits. First, he would only taste beers in a two-ounce sampler.

“I did stick to that rule,” Gaston said. “Visiting a brewery at ten in the morning, you don’t want to walk out with a buzz.”

His second rule was that he would never accept free food. However, he broke this rule at the Great Lakes Brewing Company, and once again at the Market Garden Brewery. He photographed and wrote about food offered at other breweries, but “valiantly resisted” eating their offerings.

He would then taste five to six of the most distinctive beers, starting with the light and then going to the most flavorful.

When asked about his favorites, Gaston said he wouldn’t rank them. But the ones that stood out the most to him were Kolsch beers and Indiana pale ale.

Beer enthusiasts can purchase “Ohio’s Craft Beers,” at local Kent bookstores, through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Alexis Amato is a downtown and neighborhoods reporter for the Kent Stater. Contact her at[email protected].