Building Your Beer Bookshelf
When I started writing for the Ratebeer Hop Press last year, I kicked off my column with a four-part series on some of the best beer books available. Since the publishing business stops for no one, there have been a ton of beer books published since I last tackled the topic. Not every beer book in 2010 was a winner, but there are more than a few books put out that deserve a place on your bookshelf (/bar/coffeetable).
Here’s three brand-new beer books that are worth your time.
Beer is Proof God Loves Us by Charles Bamforth
Discover the extraordinary culture and history of brewing: the remarkable craft that reaches back before written history. Visit legendary British pubs now fading sadly into memory…and the craft breweries, corporate boardrooms, and home brewers that are the new future of beer. Learn how to tell a great beer from a good one…find surprising new research on beer and human health…uncover beer in the Bible (and other unlikely places)…and discover divinity and transcendence in your very next brew.
Yes, there’s more to beer than you ever imagined: It is the most complex, subtle, and remarkable beverage humans have ever created. Its story deserves to be told with love and passion. Charles W. Bamforth brings all that, plus a lifetime of brewing knowledge and wisdom. Read his book, and you’ll agree with Benjamin Franklin’s apocryphal quote: Beer truly is proof that God loves us.
I’ve stumbled upon Charlie a couple times in the past year – first when I picked up his beer v. wine book Grape vs. Grain, and again when he was interviewed on Science… sort of. In Beer is Proof God Loves Us, Bamforth abandons wine and focuses solely on beer. This isn’t to say the book is light reading. The author digs into brewing and beer culture, covering everything from brewing science to beer fables. The book has some structural issues, with as many endnotes as you might expect from a technical manual, but there’s more than enough good content to make up for a questionable editor.
Brew North: How Canadians Made Beer & Beer Made Canada by Ian Coutts
Brew North tells the delightful story of Canada’s national beverage. Lively and informative, Brew North puts beer lovers front and centre. From cowboys quaffing India pale ale in a western saloon to modern-day beer snobs sipping pints of cask-brewed bitter and commenting on its “chocolate and cigar box bass notes,” this is the story of the men–and women–who brewed, served and drank the intoxicating malted beverage. Charming illustrations reveal rustic taverns, Victorian photographs give us that era’s opulent saloons, and modern colour shots help us understand the brewing process. The book also illustrates how brewers have long been conscious of marketing and advertising, creating unique bottles and ads, giveaway trays and signs.
There’s been plenty written about the history of beer in general, and the history of brewing in specific countries like England, Germany, Belgium and the USA. Canada, however, hasn’t been paid quite the same attention. This is remedied by Ian Coutts in Brew North, a picture-heavy paperback that covers brewskis in the Great White North from the early days of New France to the present. Click on over to Toro Magazine for a great preview of some of the breweriana in Brew North.
Brewing With Wheat by Stan Hieronymus
The wit and weizen of wheat beers. Author Stan Hieronymus visits the ancestral homes of the world’s most interesting styles-Hoegaarden, Kelheim, Leipzig, Berlin and even Portland, Oregon-to sort myth from fact and find out how the beers are made today. Complete with brewing details and recipes for even the most curious brewer, and answers to compelling questions such as Why is my beer cloudy? and With or without lemon?
In Brewing with Wheat, Stan (author of one of the smartest and most-read beer blogs on the web) gives us a guide to wheat beer that simultaneously easy-to-read and packed full of fairly technical brewing information. There aren’t any recipes in the book – the author smartly leaves that to the already-crowded field of brewing guides – but there’s plenty of information about the techniques and ingredients used by brewers of homebrewed and commercial wheat beers. If you’ve read Appellation Beer or Brew Like a Monk, you know what a joy it is to read Stan’s clever, smart prose. Brewing with Wheat happily continues this tradition.
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In addition to these three winners, a few beer books I reviewed this year – Great American Craft Beer, the new edition of CloneBrews, and 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die – are nothing short of fantastic. Click on through the titles for my full reviews of each.
Still, I’m sure that there are beer and brewing books out this year that I’ve missed. What else has been published in 2010 that can’t be passed by?
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