Alan McLeod totally nailed it with his review of The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer, answering the two biggest questions I had while reading the book.
– First, why are there homebrew recipes in this book? Can’t even a book for beginners be a bit specialized or must every introduction to craft beer tell us a little bit about everything? Look, I’m not exactly complaining because (disclaimer alert) they recommend Brew Like a Monk and it’s a good thing when a book that is going to rank ahead of yours at Amazon.com says nice things about it.
I like the analogy that Alan draws to The Yachtsman’s Week-end Book, writing that Naked Pint “harkens to a day when a book could purport to be an omnibus filled with everything you practically need to know to get from novice to pretty well capable.”
– Second, were you to give this book as a present who would you give it to? Again, quoting Alan, “This is a book for beer nerds to give their friends. It will tell the nerds a lot about good beer but it will also tell them a lot about their beer nerd pal.”
Indeed. Any copy coming from me would come complete with Post-it notes correcting a variety of niggling errors. I can’t help myself. I’ve already whined about “candi sugar,” though because almost everybody seems to get that crooked I’m giving them a pass. However you wonder who was in charge of editing when you see the phrase “bottom-fermenting ales.” Or why on page 130 they get it right in explaining misconceptions about dubbels and tripels after getting it wrong on page 23.
So you probably aren’t going to use this book to study for the Cicerone exam. But it’s easy to like. Authors Hallie Beaune and Christina Perozzi write in a breezy and sometimes brassy manner. (“A 5% ABV beer can make you friendly; an 8% ABV beer can make you French kiss a tree.”)
They consistently explain things about beer that can seem overwhelming at the outset. Consider their approach to presenting styles. They always begin with an easy-to-read blurb. Like this:
Bitter, but Not Angry: Bitters
This beer’s for you if you like: being surly but not mean, long discussions about Shakespearean themes. Notes of toffee. Staying on your stool. Evenings at the pub.
Far more interesting than any style guidelines you’ve ever read.
Alan got it perfect, but before you give it to your friends ready for a bit of beer education read it over yourself. You might find yourself better prepared to talk with them.