To Brew Or Not To BrewHi! My name is Maxine O’Hara, but everyone calls me Max. And don’t call me Maxie. Only my oldest brother Sean (Father Sean to his parishioners) is allowed to do that. When I was five or six I punched the next door neighbor kid for calling me that. I guess I’m a bit of a tomboy. But with five older brothers, did I even have a choice?

You probably don’t know it, but I’m a certified brewmaster and I’m in the process of opening my very own brewpub in Pittsburgh. The Allegheny Brew House is a dream come true for me. I like to get to the brewery early in the morning—sometimes even before the sun comes up. It’s so quiet and peaceful then. The aroma of malt and hops both calms and energizes me at the same time, if that makes sense. When I’m brewing my favorite beer—a Hefeweizen—the whole brewery smells like banana bread. I love to see people’s reactions when I tell them there are no bananas involved—only water, malt, hops, and yeast.

I’m usually not alone at the brewpub for long. My assistant and chef Kurt arrives shortly after I do. He’s not only a great cook, he knows the brewing process in and out. His father was one of my instructors in Germany, so beer is in his blood—so to speak. Kurt has been working on a Kirsch Torte recipe that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Chocolate and cherries tend to do that.

We only have two more weeks until our grand opening and we both want everything to be perfect. Lately though, we’ve had a few minor problems. One morning when I arrived, the mirror behind the bar was cracked. On another day, we found the oak bar top had been scratched. I’m sure they were accidents—probably caused by one of the workers doing the renovation who wasn’t as careful as they should have been. No big deal, right?

But then Kurt noticed a loose breaker in the electrical panel and he’s got it in his head that someone is trying to sabotage our opening. I keep telling him he’s being ridiculous. Then today during the plumbing inspection, the inspector found a cracked water line. Kurt is adamant that the water line was deliberately cut.

I refuse to believe someone could be trying to sabotage us. I can’t let myself believe it. Kurt has to be wrong. Doesn’t he?

You can read more about Max and her brewpub in To Brew or Not to Brew, the first book in the NEW “Brewing Trouble” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime.

About To Brew or Not to Brew

The Allegheny Brew House is a dream come true for Maxine “Max” O’Hara, who went all the way to Germany for her brewmaster certification and is now preparing to open her own craft brew pub in a newly revitalized section of Pittsburgh. But before she can start pouring stouts and lagers to thirsty throngs, there’s trouble on tap. Suspicious acts of sabotage culminate in Max finding her assistant brewmaster and chef Kurt Schmidt strangled in one of the vats.

Between rescuing a stray gray tabby she names Hops and considering a handsome ex-hockey player as her new chef, Max doesn’t have a lot of time to solve a murder. But with a homicide detective for a dad, she comes to criminal investigation naturally. And if someone is desperate enough to kill to stop her from opening, Max needs to act fast–before her brand new brew biz totally tanks.

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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on December 9 for your chance to win a signed copy of TO BREW OR NOT TO BREW. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

Meet the author
Joyce Tremel was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. Her flash fiction has appeared in Mysterical-e, and her non-fiction 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. Her novel, To Brew or Not to Brew is the first in the Brewing Trouble mystery series. The second book in the series, tentatively titled Tangled Up In Brew, will be released late next year.

Visit Joyce at, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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