A Room with a Brew (Brewing Trouble Series #3)

A Room with a Brew (Brewing Trouble Series #3)

by Joyce Tremel

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425277713
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/03/2017
Series: Brewing Trouble Series , #3
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 320,821
Product dimensions: 4.00(w) x 6.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Joyce Tremel is the author of Tangled Up in Brew and To Brew or Not to Brew. For more than ten years, she was a police secretary. Her fiction has appeared in Mysterical-e, and her nonfiction has been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police magazine. She lives in a suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband and a spoiled cat.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter one

I slid onto an old piano stool as Daisy Hart placed the fall centerpiece she'd designed on the distressed wood counter in her flower shop, Beautiful Blooms.

"That looks great," I said. "It's exactly what I had in mind."

"When you said something for Oktoberfest," Daisy said, "I wasn't sure whether to go with autumn, beer, or Germany, so I looked it up and incorporated all of them."

"Well, it's perfect."

Daisy clapped her hands together, making her blond braids sway. Her choice of hairstyle made her look fifteen instead of in her early thirties. "I'm so glad."

It really was perfect. She'd used the traditional Oktoberfest colors of blue and white. The centerpiece sample consisted of cream-colored silk mums and blue asters, and in the center was a miniature German beer stein. I'd ordered fourteen of them-enough to dress up all the tables in my brewpub. In two weeks, the Allegheny Brew House would be hosting its first Oktoberfest weekend.

Daisy came around the counter and took a seat on the other piano stool. "Explain one thing to me, Max. You're having this celebration in September. Shouldn't something called Oktoberfest happen in October?"

It was a common misconception. "The official Oktoberfest in Germany begins in mid-September and lasts for about two weeks. So it ends in October. Besides, Septemberfest doesn't have quite the same ring to it."

Daisy grinned. "No, it doesn't. How come you're wimping out and only having yours for a weekend?"

I laughed. "I'm having enough trouble coordinating everything for just the weekend. Do you know how hard it is to find an oompah band?"

"I never thought of that. But you did find one, right?"

"Yes," I said. "Candy, Kristie, and I are going to hear them play and make the final arrangements tonight. Why don't you come with us?"

"I don't know . . ."

"It'll be fun. A Friday girls' night out." I didn't add that she needed to get out and do something besides work on flower arrangements. She'd gone through a rough patch last spring when the man she'd been in love with had turned out to be someone who didn't care for her at all, and much worse. My insides still turned cold when I thought about what he'd done. Daisy had been devastated when she learned the truth and had even considered closing her shop and moving away. She was gradually becoming more like the old Daisy, but still had a little way to go.

She hesitated a moment, then said, "Maybe I will. It does sound like fun."

We talked for a few more minutes and decided I'd pick her up at eight. I was glad she'd agreed to go with us.

And it would be fun. Candy and Kristie would be sure to bring Daisy out of her self-imposed shell. Candy Sczypinski owned the bakery named Cupcakes N'at, which sat between the brewpub and Beautiful Blooms on Butler Street in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The name of the bakery usually confused visitors to the city, but Candy never seemed to tire of explaining that n'at was really a shortened form of and all that. It was one of the expresssions commonly known as Pittsburghese.

Candy was a Pittsburgher-or Yinzer as natives were sometimes called-through and through. I'd never seen her wear any colors but black and gold, and I always thought she looked like Mrs. Santa Claus in Steelers garb. Despite being in her early seventies, she had more energy than a twenty-year-old.

Kristie Brinkley was the owner and barista at Jump, Jive & Java, the coffee shop across the street. She bore no resemblance to the supermodel, whose first name began with a C. Kristie looked more like Halle Berry, especially since she'd recently sheared off her dreadlocks and now only had a few streaks of purple in her hair. Purple this week anyway. She changed her hair color as often as some people changed their socks. I had a sneaking suspicion that her recent hairstyle change had something to do with the new love interest that she denied having. Candy was on the case, though. If anyone could discover who it was, she could.

As I passed the bakery on the way back to the brew house, Candy's assistant, Mary Louise, waved to me and I returned her wave. I was tempted to stop in for a treat, but I had a batch of stout in the brew kettle and it was time to get it ready for the fermentation tank. The Allegheny Brew House had been open since May, but I still got a thrill every time I neared the building. Its redbrick exterior with the large windows was exactly how I had pictured it would look when I bought the former office building of the defunct Steel City Brewery. It had been a true labor of love gutting and restoring the building. It hadn't been without its challenges and tragedies, but it was now everything I'd dreamed it would be.

Inside the pub, my staff was preparing for the lunch rush, and delicious aromas emanated from the kitchen. Nicole Clark, my part-time manager, was stacking glasses behind the polished dark oak bar, so I stopped to see her.

"Everything okay?" I asked.

"Yep." She nodded her head toward the brewery. "Need any help in there?"

Nicole was studying for her master's in chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, and she'd taken a shine to the brewing process. She reminded me a lot of myself, although I'd been more interested in distilling when I earned my degree. That had only changed to brewing when I made a trip to Germany.

"Sure, as long as I'm not taking you from anything else."

The brewery portion of the brew house was to my left. I had a 10-barrel or bbl system, which consisted of a mash tun to mash the malt grain, a brew kettle, and five fermentation tanks. In other words, I could brew approximately three hundred gallons at a time. It sounds like a lot of beer, but a half-barrel or keg holds around fifteen gallons, so that's only twenty kegs.

The aroma of caramel malt was strong, and I breathed in deeply as I went through the swinging door. Nicole was right behind me. She had been assisting me with brewing more and more lately. As much as I liked having the brewery to myself most of the time, I appreciated the help. And it was fun being on the teaching end for a change.

The next step in the process was to pump out the wort, which was the liquid formed from the mashed grain and water. Then we pumped it back into the brew kettle through a nozzle that forced the solids and hops to move into the center so when the tank was drained, the solids stayed. After that, we cooled the liquid quickly, added the yeast, and calculated the initial specific gravity. The initial gravity subtracted from the final gravity at the end of fermentation determined the ABV, or alcohol by volume-a very important number. By that time, it was the lunch hour, so Nicole returned to the pub while I finished transferring the stout to the fermentation tank. I set the temperature on the tank to sixty-eight degrees, where it would ferment for approximately two weeks.

My stomach was screaming for food by then, so I decided to get something to eat before I tackled the cleanup. Cleaning and sterilizing all the equipment took time, and I needed to be properly fortified first. Besides, I hadn't seen Jake yet this morning.

The thought of seeing my chef brought a smile to my face. I'd known Jake Lambert practically all my life. He'd been my brother Mike's best friend-and still was-and I'd had a crush on him for years. When my former chef, Kurt, had been murdered four months ago, Jake had walked back into my life. He'd just retired from playing professional hockey and happened to be a certified chef. One thing led to another and we were now what my mother called "an item."

I crossed the pine plank floor of the pub, stopping briefly to say hello to a few regulars. I liked that we had customers who kept coming back for the food as well as the beer. My stomach growled again as I went through the door to the kitchen. Two cooks plus Jake were in various stages of food preparation.

Jeannie Cross was assembling two grilled chicken salads and smiled when she noticed me. "Heads up, everyone. The boss is on deck."

"Uh-oh," Kevin Bruno said without glancing up from where he was sautŽing some vegetables while simultaneously grilling burgers. "She must be hungry."

Jake was elbow deep in kneading some kind of dough. He looked up and winked at me. It never failed to make my stomach do that little flip and I felt my cheeks grow warm. "Either that, or she's here to fire your sorry behind," he said.

I laughed. I loved the camaraderie of my employees. They'd become my second family. "Don't worry, Kev. You're safe. As long as I get something to eat, that is."

Jake said, "Jeannie, fix Max one of those new turkey sandwiches we came up with." He held up his flour-covered arms. "I'd do it myself, but I'm a little indisposed."

"Coming right up." Jeannie put the finishing touch on the chicken salads by tossing a handful of French fries on top, which was a Pittsburgh tradition. I wasn't wild about it, but when customers kept asking for the fries, I gave in.

I followed her over to another stainless steel table, where she quickly assembled a sandwich on whole grain bread with roasted turkey slices, a thick slice of cheddar, baby spinach, and topped it with something that looked like a cranberry chutney or relish.

"Here you go, boss." She handed me the plate.

I took a bite. It was an interesting combination of flavors. The cheddar and turkey were familiar. The cranberry chutney was what made the sandwich. I tasted a hint of orange, and there was a little bit of heat to it also.

"Well?" Jeannie said.

"I like it. Especially the cranberries. I like the combination of sweet, tart, and heat." I swallowed the second bite. "I'm not sure about the spinach on here, though."

Jeannie looked smug. "That's what I told Jake."

Jake pushed the dough aside and went to the sink. "I guess I'm outnumbered-unless Kevin is going to back me up."

Kevin raised a hand. "I'm staying out of it. I don't even like cranberries."

I took my lunch to my office and finished the sandwich in record time, then buckled down to do some paperwork and make some calls. There was still a good bit that needed to be done for our Oktoberfest celebration. Jake had already come up with a special menu full of German food for that weekend-three kinds of wurst, schnitzel, sauerkraut, potato pancakes, and German potato salad. I made a note to pick up the menus at the print shop before the end of next week. I made a few phone calls, and after I updated my To Do list, I headed back to the brewery to clean up. A brewer's work is never done.

The fire hall hosting the band I was hiring for our celebration was located just north of the city. Kristie drove, Candy rode shotgun, and Daisy and I white-knuckled it in the back. Kristie should have been a NASCAR driver. Thank goodness it was a short trip. I was tempted to make the Sign of the Cross when she screeched into the last empty parking space in the lot. I heard Daisy blow out air. She must have been holding her breath. Candy, however, didnÕt seem to be fazed one bit by KristieÕs driving. Then again, IÕd been a passenger in CandyÕs car. She drove as if the streets were an obstacle course.

The sound of accordion and horn music drifted across the lot when we got out of the car. "This is going to be so much fun," Candy said. Tonight she wore her best black and gold sequined blouse, black pants, and gold ballet flats. "It's been years since I heard this kind of music. It really takes me back."

"Back where?" I asked. I was constantly trying to get her to spill something about her background.

"To my much younger days." She turned to Daisy. "I'm so glad you decided to come with us."

Daisy smiled. "I am, too."

By this time we were at the door. Two women were seated at a table with a steel cashbox and took our ten-dollar admission fees. There was a large sign welcoming us to their Octoberfest. I decided it wouldn't be polite to point out that they were a little early, or that they'd misspelled it by using a C instead of a K. It gave me a bad feeling about the beer they'd be serving.

The hall was decorated with black, red, and yellow streamers that matched the tiny German flags on every table. Not exactly the traditional Oktoberfest colors. Daisy caught my eye and made a face. I smiled at her and shrugged. At least they had the German part right.

Kristie pointed toward the far side of the hall. "There are some empty seats over there." We followed her across the room and sat at the end of a large banquet table. "I'm buying tonight," she hollered over the din. "What's everyone drinking?"

Daisy only wanted bottled water and Candy said she'd have the same. I offered to help Kristie and we headed to the bar. I was surprised at the assortment of beverages on hand, and especially that they had bottles of Oktoberfest beer from a local brewery. That moved them up a notch in my eyes. Despite the selection, Kristie and I also chose water for now.

It was too noisy in the hall for much conversation-especially with the band playing-so we sat and listened. The Deutschmen were very good, and hearing them play again made me glad I'd decided to hire them. The four musicians played accordion, trumpet, keyboard, and a sousaphone. I had to admit I'd never seen a sousaphone except in a marching band. I thought it an odd choice when a tuba would have worked just as well-or better. Plus it wouldn't have taken up half the stage.

There were only two couples on the dance floor until the band broke out in their version of the "Steeler Polka," which was sung to the tune of the "Pennsylvania Polka." A dozen people jumped to their feet, including Candy. She grabbed my hand. "Come on. You're dancing with me."

I tried to pull my hand back with no luck. "I don't know how to polka. I'm Irish. O'Haras don't polka."

Customer Reviews

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A Room with a Brew 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
BeckyMcF 10 months ago
Book 3 continues with the great core group of Max and her family, Jake, and Max's friends. Since I have gotten attached to all of them, the core group is important to my reading pleasure. The mysteries tied in with Max's first Oktoberfest made for interesting, satisfying reading. Getting to read a series set in Pittsburgh, my hometown area is a definite bonus!
CarolJo More than 1 year ago
A Room With a Brew is a clean story of amateur sleuths trying to solve a murder mystery. The main characters, "Max" and her lady friends are well written as is Max's boyfriend, Jake. There is lots of excitement at the Allegheny Brew House in Pittsburgh as Max prepares for Oktoberfest. I won my copy of A Room With a Brew in a Great Escapes Book Tour giveaway. This is my honest opinion.
smg5775 More than 1 year ago
A member of an oompa band that is to perform at Max's brew pub. Now Max is out to figure out why, This is an excellent installment in the Brewing Trouble series. Max is faced with a murder as, once again she finds the body. The police don't listen to her and there she is solving the murder for them. I liked the story. I figured out the why but not the who. I was surprised by the who as well as the follow-up activity. Some new characters are introduced. They fit into the story just fine. I hope they stay. Can't wait for number 4.
CozyMarie More than 1 year ago
Cheers to A Room with a Brew! This series has such a unique fall fee to it. A woman who owns a brew pub and happens to solve crimes in her spare time? Sign me up! In A Room with a Brew, Max O’Hara is back in the third installment of the Brewing Trouble Mystery Series. When one of the band members she hired to play at the BrewPub for Oktoberfest is found murdered, Max finds herself thrown into the middle of yet another murder investigation. Take a seat, crack open a cold one, and get ready to enjoy a great book.
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
Dollycas’s Thoughts I get so excited every time Joyce Tremel releases a new book! Readers arrive in town just as the Allegheny Brew House is getting ready for Oktoberfest complete with an “oompah” band. But when one of the group is murdered and her friend Candy is hiding something. Max can’t help herself from doing some investigating on her own. Max and Jake are such a great couple. She knows beer and he knows food. They are both strong and independent and devoted to each other. Especially when Jake’s ex comes to town, we see he only has eyes for Max no matter how hard Victoria tries to drag him away. The mystery this time was very complex. There are several twists to untangle as connections are discovered among many of the suspects. Some come from the past, things Max had no idea about, and those involved hesitate to let her in on the whole story. Living in Wisconsin we have our share of German descendants, including me. I absolutely loved that every recipe included in the back of the book and mentioned in the story are for foods that graced out table growing up and many still do today. The pretzel salad is one of my faves! Max may be from a big Irish family but the girl knows how to celebrate Oktoberfest even if she has to catch a killer first. I love these characters. I love the mystery. And love everything about the Brew Pub theme. Ms. Tremel has created a great cozy series. I just wish the place was real because I would love to actually visit Each story can be read on its own but I recommend you read them all for maximum enjoyment.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
A Room with a Brew by Joyce Tremel is the third installment in A Brewing Trouble Mystery series. Maxine “Max” O’Hara owns the Allegheny Brew House in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Max is busy preparing for the Oktoberfest weekend she is going to have at the brew house. To see if she wants to hire The Deutschmen, a local oompah band, Max and her girlfriends are going to an event at the fire hall. Felix Holt, accordion player, stares at Candy and insists that he knows her from somewhere. Candy ends up being rude and leaving without providing an explanation. The next day Max receives a call from Walter “Doodle” Dowdy, the sousaphone player, asking to meet in person. He has something to share with her. When Max, Jake and Candy arrive they find Doodle dead with his head stuffed in his sousaphone. Candy is at the top of the suspect which sends Max into overdrive to find out who killed Doodle and why. Just when Max thinks things cannot get worse, Jake’s ex-fiancé, Victoria pops up at a gallery opening they are attending for the unveiling of a newly discovered Vermeer painting. Max will need to keep her wits about her if she is going to nab a killer, finish her Oktoberfest preparations, and avoid the manipulative Victoria. A Room with a Brew can be read as a standalone novel. I had some trouble getting into the story. I found it to be a slow starter and the murder did not occur until I reached the 18% mark (seems to be a new trend). I found the mystery to be expected. Once the Vermeer is mentioned, I accurately predicted how the story would play out. I tried it with a third party, and they came to the same conclusion (I only gave them two details). It was interesting to learn more about the quirky Candy in this story (who only wears black and gold). Most of the characters in A Room with a Brew are flat. We are given scant details on them and the author never gave them life. Candy, Jake and Max are the only fully developed personas. My rating for A Room with a Brew is 3 out of 5 stars. The main focus of the cozy mystery is on the Allegheny Brew House, Max’s romance with Jake, food (lots of food), time spent with Max’s family, and preparing for Oktoberfest. I did not know that blue and white were colors for Oktoberfest (from Bavaria). I have only seen the colors from the German flag used in conjunction with this event. There are recipes for some of the food items at the end of the book. A Room with a Brew is a cute cozy mystery that will appeal to many readers and have you craving a bratwurst (I will be heading to the local German meat market soon)!
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
A Room with a Brew by Joyce Tremel is the third installment in A Brewing Trouble Mystery series. Maxine “Max” O’Hara owns the Allegheny Brew House in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Max is busy preparing for the Oktoberfest weekend she is going to have at the brew house. To see if she wants to hire The Deutschmen, a local oompah band, Max and her girlfriends are going to an event at the fire hall. Felix Holt, accordion player, stares at Candy and insists that he knows her from somewhere. Candy ends up being rude and leaving without providing an explanation. The next day Max receives a call from Walter “Doodle” Dowdy, the sousaphone player, asking to meet in person. He has something to share with her. When Max, Jake and Candy arrive they find Doodle dead with his head stuffed in his sousaphone. Candy is at the top of the suspect which sends Max into overdrive to find out who killed Doodle and why. Just when Max thinks things cannot get worse, Jake’s ex-fiancé, Victoria pops up at a gallery opening they are attending for the unveiling of a newly discovered Vermeer painting. Max will need to keep her wits about her if she is going to nab a killer, finish her Oktoberfest preparations, and avoid the manipulative Victoria. A Room with a Brew can be read as a standalone novel. I had some trouble getting into the story. I found it to be a slow starter and the murder did not occur until I reached the 18% mark (seems to be a new trend). I found the mystery to be expected. Once the Vermeer is mentioned, I accurately predicted how the story would play out. I tried it with a third party, and they came to the same conclusion (I only gave them two details). It was interesting to learn more about the quirky Candy in this story (who only wears black and gold). Most of the characters in A Room with a Brew are flat. We are given scant details on them and the author never gave them life. Candy, Jake and Max are the only fully developed personas. My rating for A Room with a Brew is 3 out of 5 stars. The main focus of the cozy mystery is on the Allegheny Brew House, Max’s romance with Jake, food (lots of food), time spent with Max’s family, and preparing for Oktoberfest. I did not know that blue and white were colors for Oktoberfest (from Bavaria). I have only seen the colors from the German flag used in conjunction with this event. There are recipes for some of the food items at the end of the book. A Room with a Brew is a cute cozy mystery that will appeal to many readers and have you craving a bratwurst (I will be heading to the local German meat market soon)!
LisaKsBooksReviews More than 1 year ago
I’ve been tipsy with anticipation waiting for the release of this third installment of the Brewing Trouble Mysteries. After I stayed up all night reading A ROOM WITH A BREW, I woke with a severe readers’ hangover. It was worth every minute of it! Author Tremel focused this third book in her series around Oktoberfest. Protagonist Maxine “Max” O’Hara expects to be busy in her brew pub, and she is, but she didn’t expect to be busy in a murder investigation. But it would be out of character for Max not to search out the why, and who in this cleverly written whodunit. A ROOM WITH A BREW was an exciting mystery filled with more twists and turns than there are bubbles in the suds of a head of beer. Author Joyce Tremel kept the mystery going, and had me guessing all through the book. Just when I was feeling proud of myself thinking I had figured it out, sobered me up with a reveal I didn’t see coming! A fantastic mystery, fun and interesting characters, quick and yummy recipes, plus the added bonus of getting an education in beer, A ROOM WITH A BREW has everything you could want from a cozy mystery. Don’t brew on it for long. Hops yourself out and pick up a copy of your own. You’ll be drunk with happiness that you did.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
Leave Room on your Bookshelf for this Well Brewed Mystery When you are a beer brewer who studied in Germany, you have an annual Oktoberfest celebration. And when you writing a cozy mystery series about such a brewer, you find a way to set a mystery around this celebration. That’s just what Joyce Tremel has done in A Room with a Brew, and the result is the strongest book in the series. The book opens as Maxine “Max” O’Hara is working on the final preparations for the weekend celebration, which is still a couple of weeks away. She wants to listen to the band she’s hired to provide the German music and make sure they are what she is looking for, so she grabs some friends and heads down to where they are performing that night. While she and her friends enjoy the music, the evening ends on a weird note when Felix, a member of the band, insists that he knows Candy, Max’s neighbor and the owner of the neighboring Cupcakes N’at. Candy absolutely denies it and goes outside when Felix won’t take no for an answer. The next day, Max receives a call from a member of the band that he wants to tell her something, but it has to be in person. Is this related to the weird encounter between Felix and Candy? Candy promises to tell Max what that encounter was all about, but before she does, a body turns up. What secret is Candy hiding? Did it lead to murder? Before we go further, I do need to warn you that this book spoils much of the first book in the series. All that means is you should read the series in order. Trust me, that isn’t a hardship at all since all the books in this series are lots of fun. This book continues the trend. The plot was very well done, and I was hooked from the beginning. I could hardly wait to find out what was happening. The pages flew by, and I read the book in two days instead of my usual three days to read a novel. That’s now engrossed in the story I was. We get some twists and surprises before we reach a climax that explains everything. I realized how much I love the characters in this series as I started reading it. Max comes from a close-knit family. While we don’t get to know all of them well, it is wonderful to see a family that loves each other this much. And they are always expanding to welcome neighbors and friends. While Candy has been a presence in the earlier two books in the series, we obviously get to know her better here. And Max’s relationship with her boyfriend Jake is wonderful as well. The characters introduced to be suspects here are strong and kept me confused until the end. No, we don’t get any beer recipes in the back of this book, but we do get some recipes for things like a beer soaked brat and German potato salad. Personally, I’m most intrigued by the Pittsburg Pretzel Salad. With endearing characters and an engaging plot, A Room with a Brew is a fantastic read. Grab a favorite beer or other beverage of choice and cozy up with this book. NOTE: I received a copy of this book.
chefdt More than 1 year ago
A Room With A Brew is the third book in the A Brewing Trouble Mystery series. Fall is in the air and Maxine, Max to her friends is busy getting ready to celebrate Oktoberfest at her brewpub. To go along with the celebration she has tentatively hired an oompah band to perform. She wants to catch their performance before agreeing to finalize the deal so she and fellow shop owners, Candy, Daisy, and Kristie head to the hall where they are playing. During a break, the band comes over and introduces themselves. The accordion player, Felix, takes one look at Candy and comments that they have met before and is rather persistent that they have met before. Candy, with a fearful look on her face, denies that they have ever met. The next day Max receives a call from Walter asking her to meet him at his house. Max is sure that Felix was trying to hit on Candy and Walter is acting as a go-between agrees to meet him. But when she arrives Walter is not there, but Candy is and she doesn’t want to tell Max why she his. Then Max receives another call asking her to meet at their rehearsal. Candy insists on going with Max and when they get to the hall they find the lifeless body of Walter. Finally, Max is able to convince Candy to tell what she knows about Felix and why she looked so scared. Max soon learns that Candy had previously been married and was a spy during WWII and had encountered Felix during the war. Since Candy has no idea why Felix might be in Pittsburgh or what he looking for. Max and Candy, with the help of their friends, set off to find out who the murderer might be before that police begin to think it is Candy. This another enjoyable addition to this exciting series. There’s always well developed and believable character in this series. Delicious sounding recipes are also included. I’ll be watching for the next book in this tasty series.