I got into this blogging thing because I enjoy talking about beer. At the time I didn’t expect much to come out of it except maybe a free beer or two. Luckily I have gotten a lot more out of blogging then that. Best of all has been great friends but the number of free books is close to the top.
Beer: What to Drink Next continues the trend of enjoyable review copies of books. As you may have guessed from the title the premise of the book is that it will guide you in what beer to try next, let’s see if it lives up to that claim.
And it doesn’t. There is little in the way of, if you like that try this. That’s how I feel the decision of what to drink next should be made. Determine what someone has had and liked and what they liked about it. Then go from there on what they should try next. This book does neither of those things. This book is not so much a guide on what style/beer you should drink next as much as a guide to all the styles out there. It is a good guide to all the styles out there but a poor guide in supplying direction on what to drink next.
The book has an interesting arrangement to it. On the top level it’s broken down by country of origin. That’s not so interesting, but the next level of organization was one I don’t recall seeing before, by SRM. There’s nothing wrong with this it’s just a novel approach, though I do like that it brings more emphasis to SRM. If you’re not familiar with what SRM is then check out my previous post on the subject here.
Once we actually get to the beers I fall in love with this book. At the beginning the book lays out all the beers in a periodic table which I think is kinda dumb, but the layout of each style is awesome. Check out this example for the American IPA:
When I first saw the atomic structure circles on the right page I thought it was cheesy and dumb. After checking it out for a few different styles I’ve come to the conclusion that I highly enjoy this type of layout. It’s quick, simple, and to the point. Many books and sites (myself included) bury this type of information deep in a paragraph. Here it’s right there at a glance. I wish they grouped the bubbles on each circle closer together. It becomes distracting to follow the lines out from the inner circles and to have your reading of the outside circle broken up by the lines leading out from inside.
The same feelings go for the food pairing. Not as complex as the atomic structure but still simple and to the point. Many times books will break down food pairings and make it harder to pull up a quick reference, not so here. The book even includes an index to food pairings at the end. What pairs with bacon? Head to page 143 (Rauchbier).
A history and overview of the flavor profile dominates the left hand side of the two page spread. On the side is a small set of basic facts like IBU, SRM, ABV, and suggested glassware. Again like the atomic structure, simple and to the point. Beneath all this is three suggested beers to try. While I’ve been praising this book thus far I got disappointed here. Yes, the three suggestions are good ones but they don’t include any brewery names.
I find this a very stupid move that is not helpful to finding what to drink next like the book proposes to do. They’re only giving you half the information needed to ask for the beer at your local bottle shop. Again not a great example with this page because Two Hearted and 60 Minute are well known but that doesn’t apply to every style. Like other books this one also fails to cover distribution. Someone in Wyoming might read this and want to try an IPA, sadly for the state of Wyoming none of these 3 examples make it there.
Don’t let that minor rant confuse you. This isn’t a sit down and read cover-to-cover book but makes for a great reference that will be going on the shelf right next to The Oxford Dictionary of Beer. I would also suggest this as a gift for friends and family who are beginning their adventure into craft beer. You can pick it up on Amazon.
DISCLOSURE: This book was sent to me for free. To our readers, and any companies interested in sending me stuff, giving me free stuff impacts the review in only 2 ways. That I WILL review it and that I WILL write a blog post about it. Giving me free stuff does not guarantee you a favorable review.