The Beer Nut: More beer books on the shelves
Due to the growing popularity of craft beer, books about ales and lagers are more prevalent, too.
Two new beer books are now available, with a third set to hit bookstores in November. All three books bring different things to the table, and all are good reads.
The first is "The Beer Trials," by Seamus Campbell and Robin Goldstein (Fearless Critic Media, $14.95).
"The Beer Trials" features 250 "brown-bag blind tastings," which means the reviewers tasted all of the beers without any knowledge of what beer from what brewery they were tasting.
Each review features the beer's name, the style, what country it is from, who brewed it, what style bottle it is available in and what characteristics (bitter/hoppy or malty, refreshing or roasty), people should expect from the beer.
The review also tells readers the alcohol by volume (ABV) of the beer, and the estimated price (one dollar sign for cheap up to five for the most expensive beers).
Each beer is given a full-page review, along with a photo of the bottle.
What I particularly like is the reviewers give each beer a number rating. Many books give a description of the beer and it's origin, but never really says if the beer is good or not.
The blind tasting results are interesting -- 21 beers got the highest score of a nine, while only five got the lowest score of three. I don't agree with all of the scores (how could they give Dogfish Head's World Wide Stout a three?), but a book would be boring if you agreed on all of the reviews.
Next up is "Great American Craft Beer: A Guide to the Nation's Finest Beers and Breweries," by Cambridge, Mass., lawyer Andy Crouch (Running Press, $22.95).
Crouch, who also authored one of my go-to beer travel books, "The Good Beer Guide To New England," puts together an extremely informative book.
It features a history of beer, a section called "The Rise of American Craft Brewing," a section about beer culture here and in other countries, and explanation of what craft beer really is.
Many books about beer often group the reviews by style. Crouch does it one better. He groups the beers together by the characteristics a person may enjoy.
They include Easy Drinkers, Cool and Refreshing, Heavenly Hoppy and Extreme Tastes. So, if you happen to be into sweet, malty beers, you can flip to the Mellow and Malty section to look for beers similar to what you like.
Each section is then broken down further by style -- so under Dark and Roasty, you'll find porters, Baltic porters and various different stout variations.
The book also features several recipes, a forward by Dogfish Head Craft Brewers president and founder Sam Calagione and a list of 25 great U.S. beer bars.
The third new book, which is scheduled to be released in November, is "Beer is Proof God Loves Us," by Charles W. Bamforth (FT Press, $25.99). Bamforth is the first Anheuser-Busch endowed professor of malting and brewing sciences at the University of California-Davis.
The book is different than the other books -- it does not discuss individual beers or make recommendations. Rather, the book discusses different issues.
Bamforth discusses why the consolidation of major breweries may be bad for consumers, as well as how to distinguish the quality of individual beers.
The book is not heavy on craft beer, but does have a chapter that talks about the early years of craft breweries springing up. There is another chapter about the health benefits of drinking moderate amounts of beer..
The only negative: My favorite parts were when Bamforth was writing about his own memories and experiences with beer in the past. I'd like to read an autobiography of his beery adventures.
Norman Miller is a MetroWest Daily News staff writer. For question, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-626-3823.