The Beer Nut: New book recommends '1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die'

Norman Miller

A lot of people would be surprised to find out there are thousands of beers being brewed all around the world.

It would be impossible to try every one of those beers in a single lifetime.

If you want to narrow down that list, even just a little, I'd recommend the new book, "1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die," edited by Adrian Tierney-Jones. The book is the latest in the "1001 Before You Die" series.

It is one of the most exhaustive beer books you will ever see.

At 960 pages, it's not a book you sit down with and read like a novel. Rather, the beers are split up in five categories -- Amber, Blond, White, Dark and Specialty.

In all, more than 40 beer writers from the U.S. and Europe contributed to this well-written book.

Most of the entries have photos of the beers and the bottles. Each is accompanied by a history of the particular beer, tasting notes, the country of origin, when it was first brewed, the alcohol content and the optimum serving temperature, both in Fahrenheit and Celsius.

The descriptions and tasting notes are well written. For example, the tasting notes for my personal favorite beer, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, are spot on: "The aroma that rises from the creamy head is of dried fruit with a touch of citrus. A full-bodied sip assaults the palate with a balance of teeth-chattering hops and smooth, caramel-like malt."

More than half of the beers in the book (565) come from four traditional beer-producing countries - United States (241), Belgium (118), England (110) and Germany (96).

But in all, there are 69 countries represented in this book, several of which I had no idea even produced beers, such as the Isle of Man (three beers), Albania (one) and Estonia (two). I consider myself pretty well-read when it comes to beer, and there were dozensof beers I never knew existed.

New England is well-represented in the book, with nine breweries and 18 beers included. From Massachusetts alone, the Berkshire Brewing Company's Drayman's Porter is featured, as well as Harpoon's Munich Dark and Samuel Adams' Boston Lager, Double Bock, Irish Red and Utopias.

The two breweries with the most beers in the book are Fuller, Smith and Turner of England and Rogue Ales of Oregon with seven each.

The only negative thing about the book is how the beers are separated. It would be easier to navigate the book if the beers were split up by category, rather than color. Just because the beers are the same color does not mean they are similar in flavor.

In the "Dark" category alone, there are many different styles, including stouts, porters, winter ales, Belgian strong ales, weisse bocks, brown ales and abbey ales.

In his introduction, Tierney-Jones explains the reason for using these categories.

"We first thought about grouping them in terms of beer styles, such as pale ales, doppelbocks and fruit beers," he wrote. "This, however, seemed too inward-looking and potentially divisive. So, racking our collective brains, we thought about color."

Not every beer in the book is a hard-to-find rarity -- Budweiser, Guinness and Pabst Blue Ribbon are also included.

Now, I was slightly disappointed in myself when it came to the list. I've consumed a lot of beer in my time, yet I have only had 354 from the book. I better get busy if I want to try them all.

For my list of the 101 beers -- I know, it's not 1,001, but do you know how long that would take? -- I think you should try before you die, check out my blog at

"1001 Beers to Taste Before You Die," published by Universe Publishing, is available at Barnes & Noble for $36.95.

Norman Miller is a MetroWest Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at