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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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