By Ted Child
The world of beer has never been more exciting and it has never been a better time to be a beer lover. As the world of beer continues to grow and deepen, so has the quality and insight of the books being written about it. So, if you’ve never read a book about beer, if you want to know what to read next, or if you are just looking for the perfect Christmas gift, let The Growler be your guide to the incredible world of beer books.
For the beer lover just stepping into the world of beer books, one place to start is How to Have a Beer by Alice Galletly. Clocking in at just over a hundred pages, this concise read is a self-deprecating beer nerd writing with wit and without pretension. A perfect gateway beer book that will have you wanting to read more while making you laugh out loud, specifically the chapter on the author brewing a cock ale with her father.
I’ll just have one
If you read one book this year make it Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out: Goose Island, Anheuser-Busch and How Craft Beer Became Big Business. Award-winning journalist Josh Noel tells the tale of how Goose Island founder John Hall, with the help of his son, Greg, built one of the most important and well-respected breweries in all of craft beer only to agree to one of its most scandalous sales. Well researched, highly detailed but compulsively readable, clear your schedule and stock the fridge with non-AB InBev brewed stout before you crack this impressive work of beer journalism.
For an insiders look at the early craft beer movement in B.C., plus a whole lot more, the must-read book is Brewing Revolution by Frank Appleton. Appleton was an instrumental part of bringing craft beer to B.C. and his story definitely needed to be told. This lively book also pulls no punches as Appleton recounts his early days at one of Canada’s “Big Three” industrial breweries, consulting on the brewhouses of many early B.C. craft breweries, and his insights on certain craft beer titans, such as Jim Koch of Samuel Adams fame.
The wide world of beer books
For beer travellers, the first place to look is with Canadian beer writer Stephen Beaumont. Two of his books, Best Beers and The World Atlas of Beer (both co-authored with Tim Webb) have been recently revised and expanded. Beaumont’s newest book, Will Travel for Beer, will give you the lowdown on the most iconic beer tourism spots across the globe but also some lesser well-known places to get great beer. Also, this book has what might be the single best chapter title in all of beer literature: “Fuck Alexander Keith.”
Since beer writer great Michael Jackson is unfortunately no longer able to update his classic book, The Great Beers of Belgium, the next best thing might be Trappist Beer Travels. Written by a trio of beer writers, this book is, like the Trappists themselves and the beer they produce, one of the more contemplative beer books around. Enjoy it while sipping on a goblet of Orval or Rochefort.
Brew your own book
If there has been an explosion of great beer books recently then it is even truer of homebrewing books. Of all the great books on homebrewing out there, there are a few that are especially deserving of your attention. One such read is Jeff Alworth’s (author of the Beer Bible) The Secret of Master Brewers. Alworth follows a recent trend of the author not supplying the recipes but in this case getting recipes from brewmasters of some of the world’s most iconic and well-loved breweries. Arguably, the reader doesn’t even need to be a homebrewer to find tons of insider knowledge of world-class breweries to nerd out about. Also, check out The Brew Your Own Big Book of Homebrewing. No matter how much experience you have this book will make you a better brewer.
Lastly, if Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer wasn’t essential reading for serious beer drinkers before than the newly updated second edition certainly is. A full hundred pages longer than the original, this is the book you need to get very serious about that strange creature in your glass.
The beer literature universe is expanding with ever-increasing speed. It is exciting to read great authors writing about the world’s most interesting subject with passion, knowledge and skill. Other great beer books to check out are Beeronomics: How Beer Explains the World, the books of Patrick E McGovern, and Pascal Bauder’s The Wildcrafting Brewer, which will teach you how to make your next hike into alcohol. The experience of drinking beer can only be deepened by reading about it. Hopefully, you now have some idea of which book to pick up next.