Remember when you thought beer was gross? Not at all like the golden elixir you'd imagined? Beer was probably not immediately beguiling; it rarely is. But at some point, you presumably got past the initially off-putting impressions, and your palate acclimated to a beverage that is prized for a complex interplay of sweet and bitter. That was the first big step on the path to loving and appreciating the wide variety of flavors modern beer offers.
Craft beer experts Julia Herz and Gwen Conley blend science, practice and inspiration into a guidebook for marrying food and beer. The 220-page volume is not the kind of food book you casually leaf through, looking for inspiration before heading to the market. It's a workbook that demands careful attention. Which isn't to say it's a drab text; it is filled with wonderful beer and food photography alongside charts and tables that help illustrate the concepts behind the pairings. It's a book aimed at beer geeks, with plenty of technical details and scientific exposition along with profiles of some of the beer industry's leaders.
The books starts with information on how beer is made and how beer flavor is perceived, followed by insight on how to mindfully taste and talk about beer. If you’re new to flavor science, expect to be surprised by the revelation that there’s more to our taste buds than just sweet, salty, sour and bitter. By the third chapter, the authors are introducing charts and scales to help you quantify exactly what you’re tasting in a beer before launching into specific practices and guidelines for creating your own pairings.