When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” This place is the new cool place in town, and Mac can’t help but be green with envy at their success.
But just as Sloan is settling in to her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way. Danger is brewing in Beervaria and suddenly Sloan is on the case.
I absolutely, 100% enjoyed this book. I’ve seen reviews from this series before and always thought it looked good, but after reading a very encouraging review of the most recent in the series over at Rosepoint Publishing, I decided to dive into the Sloan Krause Mysteries.
Sometimes I spot a mid-series book and just read it, usually that’s fine. Sometimes I decide to check out book one before I skip to the NetGalley copy. That never goes well on my pocket as I often end up getting all the books in between! I ended up getting book 2 as well 🙈.
The setting of this story caught my attention first. The mysteries occur in the Pacific Northwest town of Leavenworth also known as Beervaria… yup… an entire town dedicated to beer… and creating a little American version of a German alpine village. Stores and businesses embrace the theme in their decor and even costumes for staff. Best of all, the town is home to several micro and nano brewers and the beer brewing culture is fully explored as it’s the livelihood of the main characters. Pssst, Nicole, this is a series made for you!
The author goes into detail about craft beer brewing and tasting basics as the characters go about their daily activities. I don’t think the details are over-done. In fact, they add a lot of atmosphere to the story and are well-worked in.
The mystery of who killed a local brewer is the one Sloan finds herself in the middle of. She never seeks to put herself in the middle of the investigation but find herself there when the police chief asks her to make some enquiries. Added to that, much as Sloan is pissed off at her cheating husband, she doesn’t want him going down for a murder he didn’t commit. There are several suspects revealed as Sloan finds out more about the victim’s past and we’re never quite sure which villagers we can trust. Several red herrings are thrown in and it’s only towards the end that we really get all the pieces to put together.
The mystery was fun but what really sold me on the series is the characters. I really enjoyed reading from Sloan’s perspective. She’s a tough, smart cookie who’s absolutely pissed off with her cheating husband. Yet, she still believes in his innocence and does her best to prove it, as she is determined to protect her son. As a survivor of the foster care system, she’s grateful to her in-laws for providing the family she never had while growing up. Her interactions with Mac’s parents and brother, Hans, are moving and really bring a sweetness to the story.
Teenage son, Alex, brings a touch of tech savvy and teenage exuberance to the pages. The police chief is competent and even encourages Sloan to make discreet enquiries given her frequent interaction with townsfolk. I look forward to meeting more members of the Beervaria community and seeing if things heat up between Sloan and Garett.
Overall, Death On Tap offers an interesting mystery, entertaining characters and an intriguing glimpse into the world of craft beer brewing!
I give it 4.5/5 crafty espresso shots.