Christmas is coming and most of us are spending far too much time in malls and stores desperately looking for the perfect present, rather than sitting on our couch sipping the perfect beer. Such is life.
In acknowledgement of that reality, my latest columns have not focused, for once, on the beer geek but instead on their spouses/friends/children/parents. The coming of the festive season has nicely coincided with a backlog of beer books sitting on my shelf. It was only natural to do a column on good beer books to buy for a beer geek (can I get any more b’s in there?). You can read the Planet S version here, and the Vue Weekly version here. I will admit they are essentially the same, so pick the paper whose hit count you want to support.
I won’t recount every book I talk about, but I try to work through the range of beer interests. I start with the general beer book – which I call the Beer Atlas, pioneered by Michael Jackson. I am happy to highlight The World Atlas of Beer, which just came out this fall and is co-authored by Canadian beer star Stephen Beaumont. It is a beautiful book that offers a speedy survey through the world’s beer. Plus it has a lovely photo of Alley Kat’s Brian filling kegs.
I then move onto a brief mention of my favourite beer writer, Peter Brown, who is way funnier than I am and finds a way to be educational (AND who has a new book coming out in Canada next year – Shakespeare’s Local). After that I tip my hat to homebrewing, offering both the classic (Papazian’s Complete Joy) and a more recent, accessible book.
I finish with a controversial choice. Many beer aficionados have been quite grumpy since the release of the Oxford Companion to Beer. I reviewed it myself (here), and I know that the vitriol against the book have been intense. I know there are some errors – especially in the historical entries – but it remains the single most comprehensive beer resource ever created. I know that I check it often to confirm certain facts or hoping it might offer something I hadn’t thought about. It isn’t perfect, but I know that any beer lover finding that under their tree would be a very happy person. So keep that in mind, spouses of beer geeks who read this website (all 3 of you).
And for the rest of you – send them a link. A, maybe, unsubtle hint of what you want, but it sure beats the hell out of getting another pair of argyle socks or gaudy earrings for Xmas.