Sub Category: Drink books
Published: November 2011
A geeky guide to craft beer that is all about making what was once obscure accessible, and it's done through a scrap book-style page layout, with graphically rendered sticky tape, bulldog clips and paper clips holding bits of 'notepaper', photographs and sketches to the pages.
'Handwritten' fonts, beery splashes and liquid splotches help make the yellowed paper feel like a personal diary. Even the cover unfurls to reveal a flavour map/family tree of different beers. But is it all style over substance?
Actually, it's a good balance between basic info (told in a conversational style, without resorting to dumbing down) and geeky stuff; enough bite-sized nuggets to dip in and out of and plenty more in-depth info to get stuck into, back-stories to how particular beers and hops were developed, told through author Joshua Bernstein's personal experience and plenty of interviews and anecdotes with professional and home brewers and beer experts.
He's got a nice way with words too, as you'd hope for a regular contributor to the New York Times and a slew of other drinks publications, so each chapter is structured with clear journalistic expertise, with an easy narrative style, grabby intros and pithy, well-chosen quotes - no verbose 'copy and pasting' here.
There are spotlights on individual breweries and on countries you wouldn't automatically associate with beer. A balanced mix of the people involved and 150 products - with tasting notes - mean this is no dull encyclopaedia but an articulation of a human industry. Oh, and although this is about craft brewing, there's a new terminology associated with the smallest breweries - not just microbreweries but 'hyperlocal nanobreweries'.