Beer writing has become a thing, and so there are beer writers. None of us get rich; many are poor; yet we seem to multiply. Many of us know each other; over time we tend to become friends. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hobby or a sideline or a full-time job. We end up at the same events; we drink; we kvetch.
Even when we don’t know each other, we’re unlikely to write nasty things about another writer’s bad book. Why? Because deep down we’re afraid that someone might say our own book is also bad. That ice out there looks mighty thin. Like our skin. (See also: film reviews written by directors, music reviews written by musicians, and tasting notes written by professional brewers.)
I do love beer books though, because I love books, and these ones are about beer. Problem is, they’re expensive. Normally I don’t ask for free review copies because I’m unlikely to review them. Like most of you, I just buy the ones I want. Or else I put them on my holiday wish list, and hope.
So what follows here are not proper book reviews. Not at all. I’ve only seen a few of these in person. But as we approach this holiday shopping season I find myself thinking, “What are the new beer books out there, and which ones do I actually want?” So I went and looked up everything I could find. Indiscriminately. I included all those delightful niche obscurities, regional guides, labors of love, how-to books, and apparently cynical cash-grabs. I left out those stupid desk calendars and other non-books, and self-published books that look more like pamphlets for friends.
I’ve also included the list prices, as best as I can find them. All these are published, or scheduled to be published, in the latter half of 2016. (Shall we do this again in six months, for summer reading?)
Some of these subtitles are out of control, I know.
If you already have any of these and want to share your honest opinions—very much appreciated, especially by the authors—please feel free to use the comments below.
I considered linking them all to the incredibly convenient Amazon, but you know where it is. Hey: Please consider supporting independent book shops, when possible.
101 Things to Do with Beer, by Eliza Cross. $9.99.
What’s it about? Beer cooking.
What’s it for? Filing on the kitchen shelf next to 101 Things to Do with Bacon and 101 Things to Do with a Pickle, which are real books.
150 Years of Canadian Beer Labels, by Lawrence C. Sherk. $29.95.
What’s it about? Canadian beer history as told by labels.
What’s it for? Label collectors and beer history nerds.
25 Great Walkers’ Pubs in the Yorkshire Dales, by Mike Appleton. $9.50.
What’s it about? My objective, were I to walk in the Yorkshire Dales.
What’s it for? Clever tourism.
Beer FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About The World’s Most Celebrated Adult Beverage, by Jeff Cioletti. $24.99.
What’s it about? Beer 101, and some of 202.
What’s it for? Reference, filling the gaps.
Beer Lover’s Chicago, by Karl Klockars. $19.95.
What’s it about? Where and what to drink in Chicago.
What’s it for? Pub crawl planning, for example.
Beer Makes Everything Better: 101 Recipes for Using Beer to Make Your Favorite Happy Hour Grub, by John Lemmon, $19.99.
What’s it about? Cooking and cocktails.
What’s it for? In case you don’t eat enough pub grub, make it at home.
Beer on the Last Frontier: The Craft Breweries of Alaska Volume I — Kenai Peninsula and the Kodiak Island Breweries, by Bill Howell, photography by Elaine Howell. $8.99.
What’s it about? Breweries in parts of Alaska.
What’s it for? Enhancing your Alaskanness.
Beer School: A Crash Course in Craft Beer, by Jonny Garrett and Brad Evans. $17.95.
What’s it about? Beer 101, possibly with British humo(u)r.
What’s it for? Beginners intimidated by the C-word.
The Belgian Beer Book, by Erick Verdonck and Luc De Raedemaeker. $59.95.
What’s it about? Belgian beer culture from local perspective.
What’s it for? The aiding and abetting of belgophilia.
Brew: The Foolproof Guide to Making World-Class Beer at Home, by James Morton. $24.95.
What’s it about? Homebrewing, according to a British author of baking books.
What’s it for? Novices.
Brewing Local: American-Grown Beer, by Stan Hieronymous. $19.95.
What’s it about? The development of American terroir.
What’s it for? Enlightened brewing and conversation.
Brewing Revolution: Pioneering the Craft Beer Movement, by Frank Appleton. $24.95.
What’s it about? The craft story, as told by a Canadian brewing veteran.
What’s it for? Needed context for the North American craft narrative.
Brew It Yourself: Make Your Own Beer, Wine & Other Concoctions, by Nick Moyle and Richard Hood. $17.95.
What’s it about? Making booze at home.
What’s it for? Filling all that extra closet space with fermenters.
Britain’s Best Real Heritage Pubs: Pub Interiors of Outstanding Historical Interest, by Geoff Brandwood. $28.95.
What’s it about? Historically significant British pub interiors.
What’s it for? Appreciation of ambience.
CAMRA’s Beer Anthology: A Pub Crawl through British Culture, by Roger Protz. $17.95.
What’s it about? British beer and pubs.
What’s it for? That table next to your armchair, for example.
Complete IPA: The Guide to Your Favorite Craft Beer, by Josh M. Bernstein. $19.95.
What’s it about? Stout! Just kidding. IPA.
What’s it for? Deeper appreciation of America’s aromatic darling.
Craft Beer & Food, by Jess Lomas and Guy Martin. $16.95.
What’s it about? Recipes and pairings.
What’s it for? Cooking, drinking, the impulse rack at the supermarket.
Craft Obsession: The Social Rhetorics of Beer, by Jeff Rice. $40.00.
What’s it about? Academic take on craft beer and social media.
What’s it for? Marketing and research.
Down Beer Street: History in a Pint Glass, by Mika Rissanen and Juha Tahvainen. $18.95.
What’s it about? European beer history, according to two Finnish academics.
What’s it for? Anecdotes.
Fifty Places to Drink Beer Before You Die, by Chris Santella. $24.95.
What’s it about? Travel.
What’s it for? Bucket list.
The Good Pub Guide 2017, by Fiona Stapley. $15.99.
What’s it about? British pubs, curated.
What’s it for? Traveling for good pubs, rather than just good beer.
Grilled Cheese & Beer: Recipes for the Finer Things in Life, by Kevin Vanbarclum and James Edward Davis. $16.95.
What’s it about? Grilled cheese sandwich recipes, and beer pairings.
What’s it for? Hey bro, turn on the stove once in awhile.
The Homebrewer’s Almanac, by Marika Josephson, Aaron Kleiden and Ryan Tockstein. $22.95.
What’s it about? Brewing the local and the foraged.
What’s it for? Locavore homebrewers.
Homebrew Recipe Bible: An Incredible Array of 101 Craft Beer Recipes, from Classic Styles to Experimental Wilds, by Chris Colby. $24.99.
What’s it about? Recipes.
What’s it for? That shelf already full of homebrew recipe books, a.k.a. ideas.
Hoptopia: A World of Agriculture and Beer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, by Peter A. Kopp. $29.95.
What’s it about? The story of hops, told via one region.
What’s it for? Researchers and lupulinphiles.
The Illustrated Guide to Homebrewing, by Dave Carpenter. $24.99.
What’s it about? How to brew, with lots of photos.
What’s it for? Visual learners.
Kansas City Beer, by Pete Dulin. $21.99.
What’s it about? K.C. beer history.
What’s it for? Royals fans.
Liquid Education: Beer — From hop to the perfect pour, by Will Hawkes, illustrated by Daniella Germain. $14.95.
What’s it about? Beer, in digestible bits, attractively illustrated.
What’s it for? Gift for the beer-curious.
My Beer Year: Adventures with Hop Farmers, Craft Brewers, Chefs, Beer Sommeliers, and Fanatical Drinkers as a Beer Master in Training, by Lucy Burningham. $16.95.
What’s it about? Figuring out the craft beer scene.
What’s it for? Figuring out the craft beer scene.
The Pocket Book of Craft Beer: A Guide to Over 300 of the Finest Beers Known to Man, by Mark Dredge. $14.95.
What’s it about? Recommendations.
What’s it for? Savvier beer hunting.
The Pub: A Cultural Institution — from Country Inns to Craft Beer Bars and Corner Locals, by Pete Brown. $34.99.
What’s it about? British pubs of various stripes, their quirks and cultural context.
What’s it for? Deeper appreciation thereof.
True Beer: Inside the Small, Neighborhood Nanobreweries Changing the World of Craft Beer, by Timothy Sparkle. $16.99.
What’s it about? Startups.
What’s it for? Would-be startups.
The Ultimate Beer Guide: Western Edition 2017, by Jamie Bogner. $9.99.
What’s it about? 400+ breweries, and some beers.
What’s it for? Beer shopping, travel and trivia.
Wood & Beer: A Brewer’s Guide, by Dick Cantwell and Peter Bouckaert. $19.95.
What’s it about? Brewing wood-aged beers.
What’s it for? Ambitious homebrewers.
World Atlas of Beer: The Essential Guide to the Beers of the World, by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont. $30.00.
What’s it about? Interesting beer in global perspective.
What’s it for? The coffee table, and context.