Book review

The book that started a journey

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The Australian Beer Companion
Willie Simpson
Explore Australia

I bought this book when it was on special at Dymocks around Father’s Day.  I already had the hardcover version but had seen this described online as an updated version so I bought it figuring there would be a heap a new brewery entries.

But there wasn’t. The updating is largely limited to removing a few breweries – most notably Barons. But I don’t mind spending the $12 to buy a book I already had (actually it was closer to $7 after I cashed in my rewards from my Dymocks Gold Booklover card. Yes, I’m a book geek as well as a beer geek).

That’s because this book was incredibly formative in my beer geek journey. That journey really started when I offered to write a weekly beer column for the newspaper. I’d written the occasional beer review when someone sent the wine writer samples, and he’d flick them my way. I thought ‘‘this free beer thing’s a bit of all right. I could keep doing this’’. I wasn’t a total newbie – I was at the Dan Murphy’s level of beer fan, where I’d just started to comprehend just how much different beer is out there.

Taking on a beer column would push me past that point and into the ‘‘buying beer by mail order’’ phase, the ‘‘getting stupidly excited when a brewer releases a new beer’’ and the ‘‘crapping on about beer in a blog’’ phase. And that’s where Willie Simpson’s book came in.

I used the book as a directory of breweries in the country and proceeded to fire off an email to every single one of them saying ‘‘I’m writing a beer column and it would ever so awesome if you could send me some beer to review’’. A lot of the breweries ignored me, which was totally understandable. It’s what I would have done if I was a brewer and got some email from a guy I’d never met asking for free beer.

But some others did send me beer, which was a pleasant surprise. And made the job of writing a weekly beer column a whole lot easier. Some of those breweries are now among my favourites – Bridge Road Brewers and Holgate.

And this is still one of my favourite beer books. I just hope one day the publisher pays Simpson enough money to do a genuine update.

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