27 June 2015

Weekend Cooking: The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer by Ashley Routson

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The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer by Ashley RoutsonAlthough I am much more of a wine and spirits drinker, I have come to appreciate beer. That's saying quite a lot because just seven or eight years ago, I would have told you that I hated beer.

Well, actually, as it turns out, I hate typical American beers made by the famous big beer makers. Once I tasted an Old World beer made without adjuncts, I discovered that beer can be really good. Since then, I've made a point of tasting beer from local microbreweries and trying a variety of craft beers.

I'm no expert and will likely never be, so I'm thankful that Ashley Routson wrote The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer: An Unpretentious Guide to Craft Beer. Her tasting notes, helpful information, and food pairings--all wrapped up in a down-to-earth, conversational style--are just what I need to help me make wise choices at the store and in the kitchen.

The book is divided into three sections, and Routson invites us to flip through her book, reading the information that interests us most. She's pretty straightforward in her evaluations; if she doesn't like a particular type of beer, she's not afraid to say so. At the same time, however, she remains respectful enough to provide the same in-depth discussion of her least favorite beers as she does for the ones she loves.

The first part of The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer is just that--a guide to all the different styles of beer. Routson includes enough facts to make a beer nerd swoon and enough other information to invite the rest of us to the party. Here's where you learn which beers are bitter, hoppy, light, heavy, dark, and smooth. My favorite part is the listing of beers to try for each style. Some of the breweries might be obscure, but most of them, even I (a beer novice) recognized: Dog Fish Head, Spaten, Troegs, Paulaner, and Odell, for example. I love that she recommends beers that are relatively easy to find throughout the country.

The second part of the book is all about ingredients, how to make beer, how to taste it, and how to serve it. The final part is where we find the food pairings and recipes. What's cool about the food pairings is that Routson not only gives us the expected lists of beers and food but she also offers tips on how to come up with our own pairings. That kind of information is so helpful and really helps us learn the reasons behind the pairings.

The handful of recipes range from soups and stews to main dishes and desserts. Oh and, of course, there are drinks and cocktails. I'm curious to try her beer risotto (I bet it's great!) and especially some of the sauces. There's a salmon dish that's calling my name, along with a hearty Texas-style chili.

Ashley Routson's The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer is not just for beer geeks. It's a great reference to keep on hand if you want to learn about beer and are curious to try different styles from around the world. I love the beer pairings and will be turning to this book often for tips when we have friends over for dinner. This is the clearest and most accessible beer book I've run across and highly recommend it.

Here's how to make Pale Ale Jalapeno Cheese Dip (click the image to enlarge it). Note that the recipe comes from an uncorrected proof copy of the book.

Photos: The photos were scanned from the book and all rights remain with the original copyright holder.

Published by Voyageur Press, 2015
ISBN-13: 9780760347300
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Tina 6/27/15, 7:46 AM  

So we are culinary sisters when it comes to beer! I also like wine and spirits more but have taken to certain beers. Recently branching out with cider too.

What a cool handbook. You always turn me on to new things, I will have to try out that dip.

Katherine P 6/27/15, 7:56 AM  

This sounds interesting. I'm not a big beer drinker but I like beer bread and I've made a chicken dish a few times that uses Blue Moon beer as the base of the sauce and it's amazing. I'll have to look for this one. Even if it isn't something I'd use regularly it'd be a great gift!

Jackie McGuinness 6/27/15, 8:42 AM  

I prefer wine too, but enjoy a beer when we are travelling. My husband is the beer expert and we have only drank craft beers for the last 20 years.
I am pinning that dip recipe!!!

JoAnn 6/27/15, 8:52 AM  

Wow, I could have written your first two paragraphs myself! I need to take a close look at this book... and beer risotto sounds amazing.

(Diane) bookchickdi 6/27/15, 8:59 AM  

I wish I liked beer, I just have no taste for it, although I do like to cook with it. Wegmans Beer Cheddar Soup recipe is a family favorite. And the beer risotto does sound good.

bermudaonion 6/27/15, 9:09 AM  

We always tell people who say they don't like beer that they probably haven't tried the right beer. I follow The Beer Wench on Twitter and need to get my hands on this!

Esme 6/27/15, 10:24 AM  

I cannot say I will try this one-I do not like the taste of beer.

Claudia 6/27/15, 12:18 PM  

This sounds like a great reference to have on hand. I do enjoy the occasional beer, only craft type, but as there are so many, would be happy to have a guide, other than trial and error.

Alba Forcadell 6/27/15, 1:40 PM  

I prefer beer to wine! What an interesting post, I'd love to check out this guide. I've tried a couple of recipes with beer (Guiness cupcakes were amazing) but would love to try more! :)

Carole 6/27/15, 3:29 PM  

I couldn't call myself a beer wench! I only drink it occasionally in the height of summer. Cheers and thanks for hosting.

Vicki 6/27/15, 4:11 PM  

I don't drink, but I know a few people who would love this book!

rhapsodyinbooks 6/27/15, 4:28 PM  

I really like beer bread too; I suppose it's the yeasty taste....

Laurie C 6/27/15, 4:38 PM  

Ales are my favorite beer, if you can say that, especially Bass Ale and Sam Adams India Pale Ale. I'm more into cocktail books than beer books right now, but this sounds good!

Chrisbookarama 6/27/15, 7:35 PM  

I have something to post this weekend. Yay!

I wish I liked beer. I don't even like the smell of it. I'm not sure why.

Couscous & Consciousness 6/28/15, 3:18 AM  

Seems like ages since I've joined in here - nice to catch up with everyone again.

I'm definitely more of a wine girl - though there is nothing more refreshing than a blizzardly cold beer on a hot day.

Rhiannon 6/28/15, 6:50 AM  

I haven't visited BFR Weekend Cooking for a while. I'm trying to get better about visiting and commenting blogs. I get out of the habit every once in a while. I will join on with most of the other commenters to say I do not like to drink beer either but do like it in a few recipes. I especially like beer bread and beer and cheese soup but I am going to look into the beer risotto.

Debbie 6/28/15, 4:41 PM  

I think you have turned everyone on to beer! Or at least wanting to try it.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 6/28/15, 6:47 PM  

Since I tell people I hate beer, I must say that reading this post gives me hope! Thank you.


Marlissa 6/28/15, 7:09 PM  

Married an Englishman; learned to love real ale. These days I'm more apt to drink wine than beer (beer has more calories), but I have several slow-cooker braise recipes I love that use beer <3

Anonymous,  6/29/15, 11:54 AM  

Mmmmm beer. I always poo-poo the fruity beers but I just tried an Apricot Wheat and a Tangerine Wheat and cant' quite decide which I like better.

Anonymous,  7/1/15, 1:05 PM  

Though have been following this blog on and off, this is my first time commenting and leaving a link. My post is a fictional one based on daily life and food and making meals is a top priority for many in their lives...hope you guys enjoy reading it.

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