As the craft beer industry has reached new levels of popularity, the publishing industry has pumped out a seemingly endless supply of books about beer. From regional guides and cookbooks to histories and profiles of the personalities behind the brews, there’s a book for all the beer-lovers on your list.
Here are 10 suggestions for everyone, from the newly minted beer fanatic to the aspiring beer biz entrepreneur.
FOR THE ENTHUSIASTIC CRAFT NEWBIE:
"Tasting Beer," by Randy Mosher (Storey Publishing)
A modern classic of the beer book world, "Tasting Beer" gives the complete picture of the beverage, from the history to style descriptions to how to best enjoy the beer (and grow as a taster). Even seasoned beer lovers will find it fascinating, and it should be in the library of everyone who’s serious about beer.
FOR THE TRAVELING BEER FAN:
"Pocket Beer Guide 2015," by Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb (Firefly Books)
While it’s by no means comprehensive, this collection of brief reviews of more than 3,500 different beers from across the globe is a handy reference for bars and shops in far-off cities where the beers are unfamiliar and choosing one can feel like roulette. Sipping a glass of ale while flipping through the pages is certainly more tactile than Googling for Internet reviews, and probably more enjoyable too.
"Complete Guide to San Diego Breweries - 2014/2015 Edition," by Brandon Hernández (Reader Books)
If there’s a beer lover on your list who lives in, or often visits, the beer wonderland of San Diego, then this pocket-sized book will be an indispensible reference. It’s nearly a full-time job to keep track of all the breweries, pubs, bars and tasting rooms opening in San Diego, and Hernández has convened a panel of SD beer experts to rate and grade more than 100 hotspots in what could be America’s beer-utopia.
"Beer Lover’s Southern California," by Kristofor Barnes (Globe Pequot Press)
Covering more ground (from Santa Barbara through San Diego) and with a little more editorial detail that the above-mentioned San Diego Guide, "Beer Lover’s Southern California" is another indispensable atlas to the oft-overwhelming SoCal beer scene. The guide is divided into a dozen sections by region, and each included bar, pub or brewery gets a mini review that highlights the best offerings. It’s as close to exhaustive as the fast-moving industry will allow.
FOR THE DEDICATED HOP-HEAD:
"IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale," by Mitch Steele (Brewer’s Publications)
As brewmaster of Stone Brewing Co., Steele knows his way around hops, and this volume dispels myths, clarifies the origins and makes you really, really thirsty for a bitter brew. It might even spark the urge to fire-up the kettle and do a little homebrewing.
FOR THE BEER-LOVING FOODIE:
"Brewmaster’s Table," by Garrett Oliver (Ecco)
Another common recommendation for beer book collectors, this award-winning text focuses on what happens when the beer served with meals gets treated with the same thought and respect as wine. While Oliver’s prose can verge on grandiloquence, it all serves the purpose of making the reader really excited about the next meal.
"The Craft Beer Cookbook: From IPAs and Bocks to Pilsners and Porters, 100 Artisanal Recipes for Cooking with Beer," by Jacquelyn Dodd (Adams Media)
Cooking with beer can be a challenge, but with Dodd’s guidance and varied recipes there’s no reason to worry. From desserts to marinades, the cookbook contains more than 100 recipes, each with beer suggestions. Go ahead and earmark the recipe for apple cheddar beer pancakes (p. 28), as those are going to come in handy on New Year's Day.
FOR THE PROUD CALIFORNIAN:
"California Brewmasters," by Nicholas Gingold (Georgian Bay Books)
A collection of portraits and interviews with the brewers making all the superlative beer in the Golden State, this glossy compendium would be at home on a coffee table or a home bar. It’s perfect to page through while enjoying a brew from any one of the more than 40 California breweries featured; it will undoubtedly provide insight into the craftsmen behind the craft beer.
FOR THE ANGLOPHILE:
"Brew Britannia: The Strange Rebirth of British Beer," by Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey (Aurum Press)
The beer industry in Britain is long and storied, but don’t think that British beer is staid. Some of the most exciting developments in the beer world are now happening in new English breweries, which draw from tradition and innovation in equal measure. "Brew Britannia" tells the story of how pub-culture and real ale were nearly destroyed in a flood of commodity brewing, and how passionate beer people turned the industry around.
FOR THE ASPIRING BREWER:
"We Make Beer," by Sean Lewis (St. Martin’s Press)
Instead of another how-to-brew manual or business-of-beer text, gift the budding brewer on your list this travelogue that exposes the culture and camaraderie that has made the craft beer industry so compelling (and successful). So-called beer people have the reputation of being cut from a different cloth than most entrepreneurs, and Lewis offers some insight into the relationships and passions that have launched a renaissance in American brewing. It’s sure to empower and encourage anyone who’s interested in the industry.