Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Beerology: Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Beer... Even More

I recently received a copy of Beerology: Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Beer... Even More by Mirella Amato. Mirella is a Certified Master Cicerone, BJCP beer judge and all-around beer expert. And based on this book, I'm betting she's also pretty amazing to hang around and drink a few beers with!

The book has an attractive cover decorated with beer coasters, each naming one of the chapters inside. On the back, some words of praise from Garrett Oliver and Sam Calagione. I picked the book up at 10 pm last night and read through it in one sitting--it was a little hard to get up this morning for work and to get the kids to school!

I must say I love the fun tone of the book! Quotes from the first line of the book, on page IX for God's sake, include "What drew me into the beer industry? The answer's simple: beer. It's delicious!" Mirella is dropping science! The same page states that "every beer is worth trying at least once" which is correct except for those sorghum anti-beers (and the extremely dump-able Moritz and that despicable Rascal's Wild Red nonsense). One final quote I saved for my wife when she gets back from Finland this weekend... "Beer is an everyday beverage and can certainly be enjoyed as such!"

Beerology is divided into four parts with four to six subdivsions each. It's really laid out well. A lot of beer books start off with a "What is Beer?" type section, and this one did too. I usually skip that part but thought this book had exactly the right amount of details, facts, interesting history and little tidbits not covered everywhere else. And Beerology took that a step further to storing beer, how to present beer (temperature and glassware), and how to taste beers (there's a tasting sheet in the back of the book too).

For me, the meat of the book started in Part Two: Beer Styles. Mirella is not hung up on the geeky beer styles despite her enormously geeky BJCP bunch of beer styles. Basically, for this book, Mirella turned off the judge and focused on the readers, dividing the book into categories that everyone could understand: Refreshing Brews, Mellow Brews, Striking Brews, Captivating Brews, and Brews Beyond (which includes sours, smoked beers and those gluten-free ones we know about but don't talk about).

Refreshing Brews is dotted with low-alcohol, highly carbonated beers like lagers, pilsners and wheat beers. Each named style gives a description, an overview with a little history, food pairings, and both Canadian and US examples (there are other countries too for some styles). Mirella is from Canada, and you will get used to the Flavour! I found the US examples pretty interesting as well, not exactly any beer geek list at all. And this is not a craft beer snob list either: Coors Light and Miller Lite are prominent on one particular category. Remember, "every beer is worth trying at least once."

Mellow Brews (Bock, Porter, Stout), Striking Brews (IPA, Sour, Fruit), and Captivating Brews (Saison, Tripel, Russian Imperial Stout, Barleywine) follow. Same thing: more interesting information and more interesting examples suggested.

Part Three gives you some info on how to set up a beer tasting, pairing beer with food and entertaining with beer. I probably should have read all this before hosting my own beer dinners, but whatever. There's also a beer cocktail section. There's a section for beer games that was more technical than I was expecting. All the games revolved around the beer and styles. I'm not sure exactly why I thought the games would be less beer geeky. But there were no "pouring ritual" games or "what would you have named this porter" games, without even going near beer pong or other games of everyone's past.

I still haven't hit the glossary, but this was a fun, entertaining book. I personally would have dissed Bud and Coors with more than terms like "the vast majority," but then again, I'm more of a dick and less of a people person than I guess the author is.

Nice book, Mirella. Give me a call when you're in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area!

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