Essential Guide to the Beers of the World

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About a month ago, I had the Publicity Manager for FSB Associates reach out to me to see if I would be interested in receiving an early copy of the World Atlas of Beer in order to write a review of the book.  As you can imagine, I was more than happy to oblige.  When I originally envisioned creating this blog I actually planned to review beer books I have read on a regular basis (my second ever post was my review of Bob Connon’s Sociable!  The Elbow Bender’s Guide to Maritime Pubs ).  Nine months and 126 posts later, here is my second book review.

The World Atlas of Beer is described as the Essential Guide to Beers of the World and is written by Canadian Stephen Beaumont and Brit Tim Webb.  The book is published by Sterling, is 256 pages long and is scheduled to be on Canadian bookstore shelves as of Tuesday, October 2nd at a cost of $35.00 Canadian.

The book is divided into two major sections:  the Nature of Brewing and World of Beer.  The Nature of Beer provides a general overview of the world’s greatest drink.  The section includes a description of how beer is made including general information on its major ingredients.  There is a great overview of the brewing & fermentation process highlighting the seven major steps in the process and outlining the brewer’s key decisions along the way which I found extremely insightful.  There are a few pages in the section dedicated to craft brewing and an additional page contrasting high-volume brewing & convenience beers (I love the description).  The section also includes a bit of information related to buying and storing beer and provides an overview of different glassware for different types of brews.  There are a couple of pages of the book with accompanying pictures outlining three different approaches to pouring beer based on its style.   There is also one page guide outlining points to consider when tasting beer and a good four page section outlining food and beer pairings.  While the first section of the book is especially beneficial for those developing an appreciation of beer, there are also points that more experienced beer enthusiasts will likely find interesting.

The balance, and most interesting section of the book, is an overview of beer scenes from around the world.  Each chapter outlines a brief history of beer in the respective country, a list of best selling beers in each country, brief notes on beers that epitomize the local scenes and many chapters include maps outlining where breweries are located in each country.  While all sections were interesting to read, here are some of the highlights from the book:

  • The close to 30 page chapter on Belgium provides excellent information related to the unique and broad diversity of beers available in the country (over 400 discernibly different styles of beer as  identified by the Confederation of Belgian Brewers quotes the book).  From Trappist & Abbley Ales to Lambics to Saisons and other interesting Belgium styles;  this book serves as an excellent guide to what Belgium has to offer.
  • I found the section on Germany fascinating as well.  A relatively very small percentage of its brews are produced in large breweries and found the regional differences in serving sizes and different interpretations of common styles very interesting.
  • It was interesting to see some of the inventive ingredients used in Italian beer with one ingredient I’ve never tried in a beer used in multiple forms.
  • The section on the U.S. was broken down by region and included a breakdown of number of breweries by state and per capita.  It was nice to see a couple of Maine breweries referenced and Portland, Maine mentioned as “one of the northeast’s most interesting cities for craft beer”.
  • Eight pages were dedicated to our national beer scene.  While there isn’t a breakdown of breweries on a map, there is a reference to historical influences on different regions of the country.  YellowBelly Brewery, Gahan House and Garrison are all mentioned  in addition to a mocking reference of Sir Alexander Keith’s favourite beverage.  I appreciate the challenge of representing beers from around the world in a 256 page book, but I would have loved to have seen a reference to Propeller and at least one of New Brunswick’s past Canadian Brewery of the Year Award winners (Picaroons in 2011 and Pump House in 2005) in the book.

The balance of the book includes an overview of major Beer Festivals and a glossary with close to 100 beer related terms.

This is a book that any beer enthusiast would love.  In addition to wonderfully written text, the book is very visually appealing with a very clean layout and beautiful complimentary photography.  I recommend this book without any hesitation and end with a quote from Beaumont in the book:

Beer is exciting, beer is gastronomic, beer is as social as it has ever been – and beer is worth talking, and reading, about.

Author Bios (included in my email from Publicity Manager for FSB Associates)
Stephen Beaumont, co-author of The World Atlas of Beer: The Essential Guide to the Beers of the World, has been writing about beer and other beverages for over two decades, in publications as diverse as Playboy and the International Herald Tribune, Whisky Advocate and The Globe and Mail. He has written seven books on beer, including two editions of The Great Canadian Beer Guideand the landmark A Taste for Beer. When not travelling the world in search of great beer, he lives with his wife in Toronto.

For more information please visit http://worldofbeer.wordpress.com/ and follow Stephen on Facebook and Twitter

Tim Webb, co-author of The World Atlas of Beer: The Essential Guide to the Beers of the World, is a renowned beer writer with a particular interest in Belgian beer and has compiled eight editions of Good Beer Guide Belgium. He co-wrote 100 Belgian Beers to Try Before You Die! and Lamieland. Tim writes for Beer Advocate Magazine and is managing editor of his own niche publishing company, which has produced beer guides to London, Brussels, Bruges, and Amsterdam. For six years he was on the board of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and formerly ran their Great British Beer Festival. He lives in Cambridge, England.

For more information please visit http://www.booksaboutbeer.com