Storyteller, teacher, writer.
This is how Ann Arbor resident Patti Smith describes herself. These three words are not enough to encompass all that Smith is and has previously done. Smith recently released her fifth book “Michigan Beer: A Heady History”, focusing on the history of beer and breweries in Michigan.
Smith began this book in March 2020. At the time, she had assumed she would have all summer to travel around the state, trying and exploring the history of beer in person. However, due to the pandemic, she moved to a digital version of exploration by utilizing online resources.
“My plan had been to spend the summer of 2020 going to brewpubs and libraries but of course, COVID ended all that,” Smith said. “Luckily so much has been digitized that I was able to get a lot of information and really get a good book put together”
“Michigan Beer: A Heady History” has been a long time coming. Two of her previous books have focused on Ann Arbor history and she has also written about beer for Craftbeer.com as well as local publications.
“About 12 years ago I started writing about beer, just about different styles, reviewing beer pubs and doing beer tastings. Then, about 10 years ago I started writing about local history, specifically toAnn Arbor,” Smith said. “I took three of my favorite things which are beer, history and Michigan, and was lucky enough to be able to get [this book] published. ”
While writing this book, Smith was simultaneously teaching virtually to her elementary school students. Smith is a certified Special Education teacher and has been able to teach to children around Southeast Michigan.
“My certification was to teach kids who are visually impaired and blind. In my mind I [thought] I am going to have this little classroom and teach kids braille,” Smith said. “That is not the norm anymore and we have moved away, for better or worse, from the smaller classrooms into what we call inclusion where kids with disabilities are in a general education class. I am still helping kids how to read and how to do math, just in a little bit of a different setting.”
This book was published through Arcadia Publishers. She has been able to gauge responses to the book by interacting with her local community.
“People have been sending me pictures of them with the book and reading the book,” Smith said. “It is so incredibly exciting to see something you worked so hard on being read and enjoyed by people.”
Smith will be going on a beer tour around Michigan, talking in a variety of settings about the history of beer and her book starting this spring.
“Since the other books have really been limited to Ann Arbor, people in other parts of the state might not be as interested,” Smith said. “When [this book] came out, I started sending emails out to historical societies and libraries just saying ‘hey this book came out, I have this presentation I do if you are interested’ and the response was terrific. I feel so incredibly lucky that people want to have me come out and talk about beer and beer history.”
Learn more about Smith by checking out her website:teacherpatti.com.
To purchase her books, visit: teacherpatti.com/buy-the-book.