03 November 2012

Weekend Cooking: The World Atlas of Beer by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont

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Any book that starts with the following words is bound to be both fun to read and informative:
Wine may accompany dinner and fine whisky a good book, but beer always seems to go better with life. Yet as with any companion, it should be chosen well and properly understood.
And indeed The World Atlas of Beer by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont delivers on both accounts. Further, this oversize, glossy book is also beautiful to look at, with its large photographs, colorful graphics, and clear design.

But don't be fooled by first impressions. The World Atlas of Beer is much more than a coffee table book. It starts with a section titled "The Nature of Beer," which is a history of the beverage, from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to the modern-day craft brewer. In several short chapters, the authors cover an amazing range of topics, such as:
  • How beer is made
  • The characteristics of the different beer styles
  • Beer glassware, including their pros and cons
  • Beer and food pairings
The latter was one the chapters I turned to first because I don't know very much about how to pick a beer to go with a particular dish. Fortunately, Webb and Beaumont make it easy by providing a handy chart for quick reference. One thing I learned is that beer is often a better pairing with a cheese board than is wine. I can't wait to do some exploring along those lines.

The bulk of the book is, as the title tells you, an atlas of beers. From Old World to New and from West to East, Webb and Beaumont traveled the world visiting breweries and tasting and describing more than 500 beers. Their goal was to present a variety of representative styles made in traditional and upcoming brewing regions. They make little mention of the mass manufacturers and limit each brewery to only one type of beer. The authors clearly state that they had no intention of creating a best-of-the-world list but instead wanted to highlight the great variety of beers available to 21st-century drinkers.

Each regional section of the atlas introduces us to the types of beer, describes some of the breweries, and provides a short history. You'll find a chart of the local best-sellers, a map of where to find the breweries, photos of bottles and labels, and tasting notes. Scattered throughout are stories about individuals, festivals, and ingredients. In other words, there's an amazing amount of information in The World Atlas of Beer.

One of the great features of the atlas is that Webb and Beaumont made sure the book could be used in a number of ways. For example, as you plan your next vacation, check the atlas to learn about the beers local to your destination. For more immediate fun, don't forget to plot out some local adventures as well. No matter where you live in the world, there are bound to be nearby breweries.

Thumb through the atlas before your next visit to the beer store. Wouldn't it be fun to take a world tasting tour right in your own living room? Check out the food pairing advice for your next party and impress your friends. Learn about a beer festival and make arrangements to attend. Or simply read The World Atlas of Beer to increase your knowledge of this ancient drink.

Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont must have felt extremely lucky when they set out to explore the world of beers, from the familiar bocks and porters to the extreme beers flavored with exotic ingredients. Beer lovers across the globe can look forward to many hours reading and using The World Atlas of Beer.

The scans are of pages 78 and 117 in the book, chosen to give you an idea of what you'll find in the atlas. Needless to say, the quality of the book far exceeds the quality of my scans. Click the images to enlarge them.

Buy The World Atlas of Beer at an Indie or at a bookstore near you (link leads to an affiliate program).
Sterling Publishing / Sterling Epicure, 2012
ISBN-13: 9781402789618

Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: B+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


rhapsodyinbooks 11/3/12, 6:32 AM  

I admit I don't care much for beer, but I ***love*** beer bottles! I often come home with beer for Jim to drink so I can save the bottle. My two favorites (so far) are Alien Head Beer (from Area 51 Craft Brewery) and Hebrew: The Chosen Beer, from Shmaltz Brewing Company. When we were in Philadelphia I saw a bunch of great founding fathers beers, but we didn't have a good way to get the bottles back! :--)

caite 11/3/12, 6:33 AM  

I do like beer...and I just bought this book before I went on vacation!

Uniflame 11/3/12, 7:51 AM  

I am not really into beer. But my BF would find this interesting.

Too Fond 11/3/12, 8:34 AM  

We bought a similar book (but in French) for my brother-in-law for Christmas last year, and he loved it. We had a great time looking through it and talking about all the different ones we had or hadn't tried.

And can I just say that I completely agree with that opening quote? Love it.

bermudaonion 11/3/12, 9:16 AM  

I'm trying to learn about beer and need some books like this!

jama 11/3/12, 9:47 AM  

Personally not a beer drinker, but this looks like a great holiday gift. :)

(Diane) bookchickdi 11/3/12, 9:58 AM  

I love the chart of local beers. When we travel, I love to visit local bookstores and try local foods, so this would be such a great resource.

JoAnn 11/3/12, 11:48 AM  

What a great opening. This book would be the perfect Christmas gift for my brother-in-law!

Linda 11/3/12, 11:59 AM  

I have to pick this one up. I'd like the beer and food pairing section.

Christine 11/3/12, 12:38 PM  

We very rarely drink beer.. and when we do it's because someone else brought it to our house for a cookout or to a footy party [soccer]. BUT I love food history books like this one and will definitely keep it in mind as a gift idea for beer lovers we know!

Marny 11/3/12, 2:23 PM  

I like a beer every now and then (I'm German, after all *g*) and the book looks interesting.

Cecelia 11/3/12, 2:59 PM  

Beer is my preferred alcoholic beverage, and this book sounds like a great take on the drink and its influence worldwide. Can't wait to check it out!

Joy Weese Moll 11/3/12, 8:32 PM  

This looks like a great book for exploration of all kinds. What fun!

I like the idea of a world tour of beers. And also the cheese plate and beer pairing possibilities.

Pierce 11/4/12, 7:00 AM  

What an informative book - I read the history of the Guinness family where, as you may imagine, their stout played prominently in the history.
This sounds like an enjoyable read. I think I will sip a beer while perusing :-)

Les 11/4/12, 8:39 AM  

I love beer almost as much as a good Cab! I can think of several people on my Christmas list that would enjoy this book. Thanks for the review!

Becky 11/4/12, 12:28 PM  

Not a beer drinker, but I have a couple of relatives who would love this! Thanks for the review and recommendation. :)

Julie P. 11/4/12, 6:59 PM  

What a great gift idea for the many beer lovers I know!

Thenovelsphere (Melissa) 11/5/12, 1:36 PM  

In the words of Homer Simpson "mmm beer [drooling sound effect]".. I love beer and especially a half and have mixture of Bramble Berry and Railhead Red from my favorite local brewery, Beaver Street Brewery in Flagstaff, AZ.

Michelle (my books. my life.) 11/5/12, 1:45 PM  

This book looks awesome. Might have to snag myself a copy now. Someday I will be able to drink beer again, right?

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