If there's one thing I like almost as much as beer, it's books. Unlike beer, books don't get consumed by being enjoyed, so they do tend to pile up around the house, as anyone who has seen my library can attest! So when a great new book on beer is published, it's a no-brainer that I'm going to pick it up. Here are a couple of relatively new books that I think are worth noting.
First, Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher, released last month and listed at $11.53 on Amazon.com. Randy has been well-known in serious beer and homebrewing circles for years. His earlier book, Radical Brewing, is a classic for anyone interested in brewing and a wondrous font of cool recipes for beers to brew at home. Tasting Beer is a much more approachable work, aimed more at the general audience of beer drinkers out there than at us "beer geeks". It provides a broad overview of styles, tips on pairing beer with food, proper glassware and serving techniques, historical perspectives, and even the basics of sensory evaluation of beer. Profusely illustrated, including many helpful charts and diagrams comparing various styles of beer, this really is an exceptional work. It would make a perfect gift for anyone who is at all interested in any aspect of modern craft brewing. I like to think I'm fairly well-read when it comes to beer, but I was still fascinated and picked up several new and interesting beer facts to share with my class.
The second beer book worth checking out is named --strangely-- The Beer Book. Published last year, it is a collection of reviews and descriptions of over 1700 beers, plus suggested tours of various breweries and pub crawls through various beer-blessed locations, like Prague and Brussels. Edited by Tim Hampson, the book is reminiscent of the classic Michael Jackson's Beer Companion, though this book is much more heavily illustrated (with photos of most of the beers covered) and lighter on the interesting text than the one produced by the late, great Bard of Beer. If you're looking for a more up-to-date volume to compliment the classic, The Beer Book is what you're looking for.
Interestingly, both books have forwards from Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery. I guess since his coronation by The New Yorker magazine as the "Bad Boy of Beer" back in January, no one is allowed to publish a beer book without his seal-of-approval.
Just kidding, Sam...
Besides reading these two books, I've also managed to pick up a couple more new beers this week, both from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.
The first is the return of an old favorite, Bigfoot Barleywine. Brewed each year since 1983 in February for a March release, I've been drinking Bigfoot for 20 of those 26 years. Dosed with massive amounts of classic NW hops (Chinooks, Cascades, & Centennials), it charges in with 90 IBUs to balance its hefty 9.6% ABV. As I try to every year, I buy some to drink and some to cellar. When I opened a bottle and poured it into a snifter, the hop aroma hit my nose like the perfume of a long- lost love. You can't go wrong with this classic American Barlelywine. Even better, the brewery got rid of the 25th Anniversary label they used last year and have returned to the old, cool label. You know, the one with Bigfoot, the prospector, and the donkey...
The second beer was something new from Sierra Nevada, their Torpedo Extra IPA. The beer takes its name from a new device the brewery designed and built to improve the effectiveness of its dry hopping, called a "hop torpedo". This new device was required by their desire to continue using only whole leaf hops, rather than hop pellets. Having used both types to dry hop various batches of homebrew, I can imagine the problems which the leaf variety would cause for a brewery attempting to bottle on a large scale! It seems the "torpedo" solves these problems, for this IPA has an outstanding amount of hop flavor and aroma, with Magnum, Crystal, & Citra hops being used to produce 70 IBUs. At 7.2% ABV, this is not a session beer, but if you're a serious hophead, Torpedo Extra IPA should be right up your alley. It's taken Sierra Nevada 29 years to come up with an IPA they felt comfortable about selling year-round; I'd say it was worth the wait!
Until next time, Cheers!