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Book review: World’s Best Beers

World's Best BeersWorld’s Best Beers: One Thousand Craft Brews from Cask to Glass, which I mentioned earlier this week, is a coffee table book, weighing in at nearly three and a half pounds. Although it includes an introduction to beer up front, thus qualifying as novice friendly, and a beer-and-primer apparently required in all new beer books, most will look to the 176 pages that list (disclaimer: I haven’t counted them) 1,000 beers.

A half dozen things to like about the book:

– Author Ben McFarland writes about Zoigl from the Oberpfläz Wald. Only a paragraph but I’m not sure Zoigl is mentioned in another of the other (a few hundred) beer books I own.

– He includes an essay on hops from Sean Franklin from Rooster’s Brewery in Yorkshire. Speaking of hops, more than two (oversized) pages about hop varieties.

– For descriptions like this for Empire IPA from the Burton Bridge Brewery: “A celebrated brewpub in the town of Burton-on-Trent, the spiritual home of British brewing and the engine room of the IPA boom years. It’s hoppy, and it knows it; clap your hands . . . , especially for the fruity, orange aroma from the late addition of Styrian hops.”

It has lists. Love ’em or hate ’em they make good conversation starters. For instance, four of the five top five beers from Germany are Bavarian but none is a hefeweiss or helles or dunkles.

– Because he saves a little love for Achel 5 Blond, generally overlooked because it’s only 5% abv and sold only in the brewery cafe.

Two beers from Kout na Šumave in the Czech Republic.

I hope you’ve figured out this is no cookie-cutter book. In an email, McFarland wrote he knew up front that some would question his selection of beers. To be honest, I think the Central Time Zone (the U.S. obviously) is under-represented. That’s the nature of these books. They are worth your time when the beers are thoughtfully chosen.

One reason to be disappointed:

Not enough McFarland. Huh? This is a 288-page book. Indeed, but while “800 Craft Brews from Cask to Glass” doesn’t have the same ring to it I’d trade a couple hundred tasting notes for an essay or two. McFarland clearly has more to him than cleverly worded descriptions. That’s what I want more of.


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