Four essential books about beer
You can enjoy craft beer without ever knowing the difference between a German pilsner and a Czech pilsner, but as with wine or food or any other item worth savoring, the accumulation of knowledge about beer leads to a finer appreciation of it. Beer rewards contemplation, and because nothing pairs with contemplation quite like an old-fashioned book, here are a few suggestions for essential reading that will expand your understanding of the beverage that’s tied so closely to the history of human civilization.
The most respected modern beer writer is the late Englishman Michael Jackson, whom author and brewmaster Garrett Oliver called “the single most influential voice in food and drink of the 20th century.” Jackson, also known as the Beer Hunter after his BBC television series from 1990, penned countless articles and books about beers from around the world. Published in 1977, his groundbreaking “The World Guide to Beer” is now out of print, but the work is considered one of the first to categorize beer into styles -- a notion that has influenced the way people discuss and enjoy beer to this day. “Great Beers of Belgium” is still in print, and it is a wonderful primer on the wide range of styles and techniques for which Belgian brewers are renowned.
Apart from the works of the godfather of beer writing, the most essential and comprehensive book on beer is Randy Mosher’s “Tasting Beer.” This guide to enjoying beer touches on everything from the beverage’s long and fascinating history, to how to develop your palate and tasting abilities, to the basics of matching beer to food to create compelling flavor combinations. It is a must-read for anyone serious about learning more about beer, and it is a breezy and enjoyable read that makes for a perfect accompaniment to a pint.
Beer has a natural affinity for food, and if you’re intrigued by exploring the possibilities of food-and-beer pairings, “The Brewmaster’s Table” by Brooklyn Brewing’s brewmaster Garrett Oliver is a good place to start. Oliver’s gourmand tendencies are clearly evident as he demystifies the approaches to maximizing the interplay of food and beer. The writing is evocative, and it will certainly awaken both your hunger and thirst as you read it.
Knowing the history of beer, how to best enjoy the beverage, and how to conjure the magic of a well-matched meal often leads to the desire to create your own brews. If homebrewing interests you, there are countless books that cover getting started on that adventure, but one of the most well-regarded is “How to Brew” by Jon Palmer. There is an older version of the text on the Web, but the print-version is an indispensable reference that covers the basic techniques, necessary equipment, and raw materials needed to make beer in your kitchen or garage.
Even a little knowledge can help increase your enjoyment of beer, and any one of these books will help you get more out of every glass you drink.
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