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A Beer Diet . . . Who’re You Kidding?

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Gary stretches for the goal line while supported by Rugby pals Mike “Littleman” Resta (left) and Harold Hickey (right) Gary stretches for the goal line while supported by Rugby pals Mike “Littleman” Resta (left) and Harold Hickey (right) Photo by Tom DiPace

By Dan Clarke

Add a book review section to an online magazine and you’ll get pitches on behalf of a lot of stuff you wouldn’t want to read, let alone write about. 

You’re also likely to be offered books you’d love to read, but don’t necessarily have any interest for your audience.

The Beer Diet: How to Drink Beer and NOT Gain Weight falls into a third and rarer category—books that sound worth a read and are in the general categories of food, drink and travel that are of interest to our audience.

Gary Greenberg Del Mar PicmonkeyGary Greenberg in action for Del Mar

Intrigued by the premise, your editor was hooked when he found the author was a Rugby player--part of a fraternity known for its prodigious consumption of beer. Gary Greenberg began playing when he was at Penn State. Now in his mid-sixties, he’s still at it. My own exposure to that game began at college too. It was a different school, but a robust lifestyle and familiarity with malted beverages is common to all Rugby programs where religious proscriptions don’t stiffle it. I played my last match when I was 50 years old. My long, if undistinguished, career spanned fewer years than Mr.  Greenberg’s, but it’s safe to say that both of us have consumed a lot of beer.

So how come he can still play in shorts sized to a 32-inch waist?

Before starting Gary Greenberg’s book, The Beer Diet, I expected a more flippant treatment of the topic. Probably rife with anecdotes of drinking and debauchery and some sort of gimmick to justify the NOT Gain Weight lure in the subtitle, I reckoned. That sounded o.k. with me--an entertaining read and probably a demonstration that the game and its socializing was much the same on the East Coast as it was in California. The Beer Diet includes enough references to Rugby and beer to make Gary’s experiences in that realm credible, but they’re peripheral to all the information about the process of making beer (he’s a home brewer), nutrition, the effects of alcohol and even the collection of some of his favorite soup recipes included in the appendix.

Greenberg took a journalism degree at Penn State in 1976 and has been writing professionally since then. He has no specific training that would mollify those who need to see initials after a name to have any confidence in the message. However, over the course of his career he has interviewed many of those experts who do possess such academic credentials. Greenberg obviously has spent more time researching issues related to diet and the consumption of alcohol than this long-in-the-tooth Rugby refugee. The Beer Diet doesn’t take a polemical stance. Rather, it seems a reasonable general discussion of beer and health by a person who has great interest and great experience with these topics.

And how is it that Gary Greenberg still can wear pants with a 32 waistline? Well, it’s more complicated than gimmicky simple. You’ll have to read the book to make your own deductions, but it’s clear that he hasn’t accomplished this by a dour, abstemious lifestyle.

Editor’s note: More info about The Beer Diet: How to Drink Beer and NOT Gain Weight can be had at

See our review at Taste California Travel Book Section



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