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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Drink Book of the Month: World Atlas of Beer

1. THE WORLD ATLAS OF BEER; the essential guide to the
beers of the world (Sterling Epicure, 2012, 256 pages, ISBN
978-1-4027-8961-8, $30 US hard covers) is by Tim Webb and
Stephen Beaumont, both internationally recognized beer
writers. Beaumont is actually a Torontonian, who has been
writing about beer for decades. This guide, originally
published in the UK by Mitchell Beazley earlier this year,
covers about 35 countries, with tasting notes for over 500
beers, some of them honest and brutal (e.g. Duvel). It
opens with basic primer data plus pictures of the process,
matching beer with food, and differences between craft
beers and mass-produced beers (really?). There are lagers,
pilsner, Trappist and Abbey Ales, stouts and porters, IPAs,
dark beers and bock, and "extreme beers". Now I know the
selection of beer is limited because of the pages available
(256 pages make for 16 signatures here), but there is a lot
of white space and more beers could have been commented on.
No space for Innis & Gunn? Shurely not…Nevertheless, it is
colourful, it does have label reproductions, it is
fastidious in its comments, there's a lot of good stuff
here, and the price is dirt cheap. You can get it from the
Book Depository (Guernsey) for $22.22 CAD with free
shipping and no taxes, which beats Amazon.Ca. So all in
all, it is a useful book, complementary to The Oxford
Companion to Beer (published earlier in the year at $65US
but with no colour), and a bargain price for what it is.
And it will be extremely useful for the average beer
drinker who wants to know a little bit about a lot of
things, as Peggy Lee used to sing.
Audience and level of use: beer lovers everywhere,
Some interesting or unusual facts: It's somewhat strange
that an acknowledged international expert such as Beaumont
was not a contributor to The Oxford Companion to Beer,
while Tim Webb was. The Consultant Editor here, Joanna
Copestick, also a well known beer writer, was not a
contributor to the Oxford. Maybe that explains why The
Oxford Companion to Beer was not listed in the atlas's
bibliography. I'm just sayin'.
The downside to this book: there's not much of an Atlas-
feel. The maps are flat and variable. Some locate the
brewery (Netherlands), others do just craft breweries
(Ireland), and others do "breweries per 500,000 people
2011" (Germany), while others do tradition influences
The upside to this book: great looking pictures of people,
places and things, as well as beer labels and adverts.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

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