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Beer by the books

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Five new worthy reads for every kind of beer lover.


The World Atlas of Beer | Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont | $30, Sterling

Finally, a beer book with coffee-table potential. Longtime beer writers Webb and Beaumont whisk the wanderlusty away to 35 beer-filled countries, with maps, giant photos and tasting notes of more than 500 worldly beers. Taken together, the entire tome is a passport to earth’s current beer trends and classic traditions, but it’s just as nice to flip to any old page and get lost in the quirky brews of New Zealand or the spiced, herbed and fruited concoctions of Italy.


Beer, Food, and Flavor: A Guide to Tasting, Pairing, and the Culture of Craft Beer | Schuyler Schultz | $20, Skyhorse

AleSmith Brewing founder and cheesemaker Peter Zien penned the foreword for this sonnet on beer-food love. The real gold is chapter 2, where Schultz—who’s curated pairing dinners for the likes of Russian River and Bear Republic—navigates complementary and contrasting pairings, menu-building and choosing beer with food in mind (and vice versa) by channeling focus elements of each. Behind the casual guidance is the refreshingly unsnobby mantra that while it’s pretty tough to go really wrong with beer/food pairing, you can always do better. Classic dishes and widely available beer suggestions make the whole thesis tangible.


Beer & Cheese | Ben Vinken and Michel Van Tricht | $45, Lannoo

Beer sommelier Vinken knows his bottles: He published Michael Jackson’s “Great Beers of Belgium,” worked at Palm’s and AB-InBev’s breweries, and hosts a beer TV series in Belgium; by contrast, cheese legend Van Tricht sources European cheeses and ripens them in what is known as one of the continent’s premier cheese shops. “Beer & Cheese” is what happens when you get the two together. Over the course of 10 tasting sessions, Vinken presented classic beers to Van Tricht, who found cheeses to match; the two eventually settled on 50 pairings like a stoic Orval with a complex Pas de Rouge, and a dry Duvel with a lively Cremeux du Mont St. Michel. Rather than explain each match ad nauseam, the experts’ succinct briefings let the products (and, unwillingly, their own genius) shine. Joris Luyten’s stunning close-ups show off tiny cheese crevasses and beer bubbles you never knew existed.


Short Course in Beer | Lynn Hoffman | $15, Skyhorse

Think of this guide as a textbook for Beer Appreciation 101: Organized by big-picture chapters with clearly spelled-out objectives upfront and discussion questions at the end, “Short Course” is a tuition-free ride from beginner to beer aficionado. Students learn how beer’s made; how to properly pour, pair and taste it; and even better, how to talk about it. A dictionary of beer jargon and a beer-style guide—which both take a friendly, non-academic tone—prove indispensable to the wannabe beer geek just getting his mug wet.


The Book of Beer Awesomeness | Ben Applebaum and Dan Disorbo | $16, Chronicle

Who knew there are five dude-approved ways to grip a beer bottle? Tongue-in-cheek but full of nuggets even beer geeks might not know, this 205-page guide succinctly covers beer history, brewing science, keg tapping and toasting tips before getting into headier stuff like speed quarters technique and how to open a beer can with your elbow. The standout section is the complete overview of more than 40 drinking games, because who can remember all the rules of President, anyway?



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