More than a decade ago, the wine educator Karen MacNeil published a book called The Wine Bible for Workman Publishing. It has remained one of the most widely-read books on the subject of wine ever since and is still Amazon's best-selling wine book. In 2011, Workman contracted me to write a companion volume on beer. I spent two years working on the project, traveling over 17,000 miles to six countries and 52 breweries; I slept in 23 hotel rooms and took six planes, three trains, and four cars (excluding cabs).
There is also introductory material about: the history of beer; how it is made and of what; the taste of beer and which aromas and flavors to look for; how to serve beer and pair it with food; and even how to brew it (very briefly!). The book concludes with a section on enjoying beer, including a chapter about where to go should you wish to see some of the eighteen breweries I profile (or some of the other 34 I visited). All throughout, I tried to make the book as comprehensive as possible, but also lively and interesting. Karen MacNeil had the great insight to include tons of sidebars throughout The Wine Bible to add color and interest. I happily followed her lead.
Text from the hardcover edition
Never in the long history of drinking have beer lovers had it so good, with a brewing renaissance happening around the globe. And never before have beer lovers who also have a thirst for knowledge had it so good—The Beer Bible is a lively, comprehensive, authoritative, and purely fun-toread guide to beer in all its glory.
The Beer Bible celebrates the pleasure of discovery, for readers new to beer, and the pleasure of connoisseurship, for old hands ever eager for more information. It’s a book built on the premise that the best way to learn about beer isn’t by trying every one out there, but instead pouring your favorite and studying it. That’s what opens the doorway to history, culture, and craft, the influences that make each style of beer unique.
Like bitter, for example. Its origins in the twin discoveries of hops as a spicing agent and modern kilning, which allowed for straw-colored malts. How it took several more centuries to displace the great porter epoch. The influence of mineral-rich Burton water. The Zen simplicity of how bitter is brewed. The quality called “moreish”—a distinctly British adjective extolling the virtue of being pleasant over the course of a full evening at the pub. And the fact that it really needs to be drunk straight from the tap or cask.
To top it off, Jeff Alworth’s ever-engaging style: “British bitters are characterized by a definite hop presence, but they have no violence in them. The hops ride atop a gentle biscuit sweetness and add marmalade and spice.” And so it goes for bocks and lambics, schwarzbiers and Vienna lagers, saisons and Pilsners, weisses, weizens, and witbiers.
Welcome to beer heaven.