Book review

Complete beer course

The Complete Beer Course
Joshua M Bernstein
Sterling Epicurebeer course

I think the law of diminishing returns has kicked in when it comes to beer books. Now that I have a certain degree of knowledge, a lot of the beer books I read are less and less interesting. Which I should point out is a reflection of me, not necessarily of the books.

Every beer book seems to have the first few chapters dedicated to explaining what beer is and how it is made. It’s getting so that I skip those pages, because I’ve read versions of them before. Then, when they’re explaining certain styles, I tend to lose interest because, again, they’re talking about things I already know.

Which brings me to Bernstein’s book. If I was just starting out in the beer geek world, I would love this book. Absolutely love it. It explains styles and other details in simple, straightforward ways – and it seems to be written with the newbie in mind. Reading this a few years ago would have given me a big head start in the beer world.

But now, I already know a lot of what Bernstein’s writing about so there’s less to interest me here. And yet, and yet….I still find myself picking this book off the shelf every now and then and flicking through it. I think that’s because it’s so beautifully laid out that it invites you just to look at the pages, and Bernstein has included regular breakout boxes on almost every page that draws your attention as you flip through it.

The book is split into sections, starting with the “what is beer?” chapter before devoting a chapter to each style. Towards the end comes a section on beer from around the world (criminally, while New Zealand gets a couple of pages, Australia doesn’t even rate a mention) and another on cellaring and pairing with food.

There’s no doubt there’s a lot of information here. If you’re new to the world of beer and are looking for a way in, I’d recommend you buy this book. If you’re already a beer geek? Maybe buy this book for a beer noob and then borrow it.

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