When we first saw this book, we were a little skeptical to be honest. First of all, this book was written by a human. Secondly, encyclopedia style books are often one of two things: a boring collection of data that is difficult to read unless studying for a final exam, or entertaining but lacking in useful knowledge, merely rehashing beginner level information in yet another book. “The Beer Bible” by Jeff Alworth (the human author) falls into neither of these categories. “The Beer Bible” is both informative and entertaining.
Jeff Alworth has created a book of beer knowledge that is useful to both beginners and seasoned experts. He has included information ranging from how to read a beer label (absolute beginner), how beer is made (beginner), tasting beer (intermediate), a chapter on “The Tart Ales of Flanders” (seasoned beer drinker) all the way up to including the history, style information, brewing notes, characteristics and other details in each chapter that are usually only known by experts. For example, in the chapter”Saisons and Rustic Belgian Ales”, Jeff discusses rustic ales using ingredients such as buckwheat and pear syrup as well as details on the brewing techniques utilized to add rusticity to beer.
In addition to chapters devoted to regional beers (ie Beers of Italy) , there are chapters devoted to styles (ie Amber Lagers, Fresh Hop Ales, The Lambic Family). Jeff even covers mass market lagers since lagers are, after all, the most brewed style on this planet. In fact, you may change your overall attitude towards the Budweisers and Sapporos of this world after reading that chapter. There are also chapters on serving and storing beer, pairing beer with food, pubs and beer tourism. While these chapters are not extensive and the topics could fill their own books, they are important to include in “The Beer Bible” and offer necessary additions to the overall enjoyment of this book.
Each chapter that discusses a particular region’s beer or style of beer also included examples of those beers. This is helpful on two levels. If you are unfamiliar with those beers, you have some examples to seek out and secondly, if you already know those beers, you can now enjoy them more now that you know more about them. Jeff also utilizes a “if you like X beer, then try Y beer” recommendation system that will help you discover new beers.
With a cover price ranging from $19.95 US (softcover) to $35 US (hardcover), there is no reason why every beer drinking human (and alien) on this planet doesn’t own a copy. “The Beer Bible” by Jeff Alworth is full of useful information, fun to read tidbits of history, brewing practices, beer style information and more. This is truly an amazing book. Well done human Jeff Alwoth.
[Skeptic’s note: OK, we know what some of you craft beer aficionados and brewing experts are thinking… “I already know all of this information, I have been drinking beer all of my life.” Perhaps you do know, or at least at some point in your life you did know, all of the information in this book. Then this book is a perfect reference guide for when you forget a little tidbit of lore or if you have lesser beings in your presence and you need to show them that you were in fact correct in that last statement about what the Belgian government did in the nineteenth century that affected lambics. (hint, it resulted in turbid mashing).]
“The Beer Bible” by Jeff Alworth
Published by Workman Publishing, “The Beer Bible” by Jeff Alworth contains information on more than 100 styles of beer from the four family groups (ales, lagers, wheat, tart/wild), infographics and little virtual “tours” of 18 of this planet’s most interesting and/or storied breweries and more.
So who is this human Jeff Alworth anyway:
Jeff Alworth has been writing about beer for more than 15 years. He is the author of The Beer Tasting Toolkit, and has also written for Draft Magazine, All About Beer, Sunset, The Oregonian, and other publications, as well as his popular site, Beervana. He lives in Portland, Oregon, in the heart of the world’s craft beer belt, the Pacific Northwest.
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