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The Oxford Companion to Beer Hardcover – October 7, 2011

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The Oxford Companion to Beer + Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink + The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food
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Editorial Reviews Review

Take a Look Inside The Oxford Companion to Beer:

The Oxford Companion to Beer
Barley Wine: The strongest of beers. While not always literally approaching the alcohol content of wine, they are often brewed to alcoholic strengths of 10% ABV, and sometimes more. CHARLES FINKEL
The Oxford Companion to Beer
Barrel-aging: A brewer at the Avery Brewing Company in Colorado prepares a blending session for barrel-aged beers.
The Oxford Companion to Beer
Britain: A team of horses delivers beer from Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery, founded in 1758, to citizens of Tadcaster, England. Horse-drawn drays are still used to this day for many deliveries. MERCHANT DU VIN
The Oxford Companion to Beer
Glassware: Photograph, c. 1933, illustrating various classic beer glass shapes. Prohibition caused a lack of public knowledge of how to serve alcoholic beverages, an issue addressed in this nationally syndicated photograph. PIKE MICROBREWERY MUSEUM, SEATTLE, WA
The Oxford Companion to Beer
Insert, page 7: Home-grown and hand-picked Cascade hops and barley ready for homebrewing in Connecticut. The popular Cascade hops has become a signature flavor of many North American craft beers and is known for its grapefruit-like profile.
The Oxford Companion to Beer
Insert, page 16: A collection of antique beer labels ranging from 1920–1950, from countries all over the world. While bottling has been around for millennia, the attachment of labels only gained general usage in the mid-19th century. PIKE MICROBREWERY MUSEUM, SEATTLE, WA


"The Oxford Companion to Beer is like having an assortment of 24 terrific beers in one box. Pick one out, pop the cap, turn to a page, savor the beer, enjoy the random read. There are
more than 1,100 terrific companions for your beers." --Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association and author of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing

"If scholarly detail and accuracy for brewing is your thirst, this book will be your definitive goto over and over again. Like a perfect pour, beer lovers will be able to appreciate this book for its artistry, craftsmanship and precision as well as its endless source of inspiration."--Mario Batali , acclaimed chef and restaurateur

"Beerlike baseball statistics or action movie quotes is one of the many things guys act like they are experts on, but oftentimes are actually clueless about. This book is for anyone, male or female, who has ever wanted to know the once-and-for-all real facts about ales, ambers, porters, and lambics but was too afraid to ask. It's the clearest, most user-friendly guide to hoppy heaven I have ever come across and in my opinion the only 'beer book' you will need."--Adam Richman, host of Man V. Food Nation and author of America the Edible

"Garrett Oliver has become widely acknowledged as an expert not only in making beer, but in tasting it, pairing it, and talking about it."--New York Times

"[E]ncyclopedic in scope . . . In putting together the 'Oxford Companion' now, Mr. Oliver has captured the blossoming of a global beer culture at a thriving moment. . . . [A] definitive resource not just for beer enthusiasts but for amateur brewers, professional brewers and the thousands of restaurants that serve great beers but are staffed by people who may know little about them. . . . The 'Oxford Companion' is simply a wonderful resource for what, even when it's complex, unusual, unfamiliar or strikingly different, is still just beer, regardless of how it is dressed up." --Eric Asimov, The New York Times

"The Oxford Companion to Beer [is] an unprecedented compendium that encompasses global hops history, new-wave brewing techniques and anything else you could possibly want to know about the world's most popular alcoholic beverage." m--Time Out New York

"Demand for the Companion has already exceeded supply, and the book has sold out its initial print run. The 'dark ages of beer' seem to be over." --New York's "Grub Street"

"[The Oxford Companion to Beer] promises to be a comprehensive resource for those in the know and those hoping to get there some day." --SF

"We live in an amazing time for beer lovers. With more than 1,700 American breweries and counting, Oliver's massive reference book is a timely masterpiece that will make the perfect companion for craft beer's meteoric rise." --Mobile Press Register

"[W]ith the publication of The Oxford Companion to Beer we now have 920 pages of serious beer writing each page of which alone will trigger any number of arguments, plenty of scurrying for further sources and the occasional drifting of the book across the room, hopefully missing the lamp. This is a very good thing."

"The most essential beer book you can buy . . . You open a page at random and you start reading, and you lose yourself in trivia, history, and bits of brewing science you always wanted to know but never got round to asking . . . Just about everything any sane person could want to know about beer is in this book . . . if you write about beer, study it or brew it, you simply cannot do without this book" --Pete Brown's Beer Blog

"At the end of the reading I felt buzzed. Not from beer, but from the amount of knowledge I had acquired. I have never considered myself to be a beer enthusiast, but after Garrett Oliver conveyed his passion for beer, that just might change." The CU Independent

"[T]he largest amount of knowledge about beer ever assembled in one book."
--Huffington Post

"The rise of craft beer has meant a lot of happy developments for beer lovers -- more quality breweries, more great bars and, lately, lots of interesting books. Among the most ambitious beer books is The Oxford Companion to Beer." --Chicago Tribune

"[T]he volume is encyclopedic in both scope and detail, and though I've spent hours looking through it, I've barely made a dent. What I have read, though, has been consistently fascinating." --Chicago Reader

"If ever you were in need of knowing every single fact there is to know about beer, this is apparently where to find it."

"A book every beer lover must have . . . This is the new beer bible: the Encyclopedia Beertanica . . . You must have this book. It is magnificent. Whether you are an aspiring beer geek, an avid home brewer, or a professional brewer, you must have this book. It is the beer book." --Washington Beer Blog

"[A]ll sorts of fascinating beer-related facts have been poured into this 920-page everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know beauty of a book that has the answer for everything . . . In all sincerity, the book is terrific. It looks good, thanks in part to 16 pages of beautiful color photographs and hundreds of tasteful black-and-white images. It's got the heft you'd expect from a $65 scholarly tome. And it covers all the bases-from the variety of agricultural commodities that go into beer to the vast number of ways it can be brewed, with each method imparting its own taste and texture."

"Thoroughly illustrated and beautifully typeset, the book is precisely what a companion should be: an engaging, subjective, erudite guide to the interested novice and, at the same time, a quick reference for the initiated. As a dedicated drinker all but ignorant of the chemistry behind brewing, I feel I've already learned a lot -- and I've only read through the five entries that start with 'acid-.'"

"So far I've read only a tiny fraction of what's in this book, and already my beer education has taken great leaps forward."

"Now, beer's faithful have their bible. The Oxford Companion to Beer, a formidable 920-page volume, chronicles the drink's history, from its birth more than 5,000 years ago in the grasslands of ancient Iraq to the modern craft-beer movement." --Globe and Mail

"And now the movement has a book so fine that it isn't likely to need another for a millennium or so. The Oxford Companion to Beer is, first of all, so handsome as to border on the pornographic . . . [It] is like a pub with enough taps to satisfy every variety of drinker . . . [Oliver] deserves unqualified praise for what is a huge achievement."

"The major release of the year . . . highly-anticipated."

"[T]he only book you will ever have to read, from this point on, to survive. The Oxford Companion to Beer is your new BFF."

"[W]ithout a doubt the most comprehensive educational resource on beer available . . . like any inexhaustible resource, it'll be with you for life." --Men's

"This may be one book that beer-lovers can't live without." --Culture: The Word on Cheese

"The Oxford Companion to Beer joins the drink-book canon as perhaps the most important tome on the subject. Why? Because it offers serious scholarship on everything from the details of the German hop industry to the controversy of California's 'steam beer' designation . . . a remarkable work. Even if you think beer is better drunk than contemplated, you'll find yourself cross-referencing this into the wee hours." --San Francisco Chronicle

"simply an incredible resource that every beer lover should have on the shelf."

"This massive tome has the power to turn you from beer lover to beer connoisseur."

"This title hits the sweet spot of popular appeal and bona fide subject rigor and is likely to catch the eye of even the most casual browser-display prominently. Recommended for the ever-increasing number of public collections serving local-beer enthusiasts and for most academic collections; likewise suitable for any beer imbiber's home collection."
--Library Journal

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Companion To...
  • Hardcover: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195367138
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195367133
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 1.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Garrett Oliver is the Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery in New York City and one of the foremost authorities in the world on the subject of beer. A host of more than 700 tasting and pairing events in 12 countries over the past two decades, he is perhaps best known as the author of the award-winning book The Brewmaster's Table. He has made many appearances on television and in other media, writes regularly for food and beer-related periodicals, and is a veteran judge of professional brewing competitions. His principal occupation is the creation of The Brooklyn Brewery's well-regarded range of beers.

Garrett was a founding Board member of Slow Food USA and later became a member of the Board of Counselors of Slow Food International. He was also a 2009 and 2010 finalist for the James Beard Award as "Outstanding Wine or Spirits Professional."
His last book, The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food, first published by HarperCollins in May, 2003, was the winner of a 2004 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Book Award and was a finalist for the 2004 James Beard Foundation Book Awards. The Brewmaster's Table was released in a paperback edition in May of 2005.

Garrett is a graduate of Boston University and holds a degree in Broadcasting and Film. He was the recipient of the 1998 Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation and Excellence in Brewing, the 2003 Semper Ardens Award for Beer Culture (Denmark) and Cheers Beverage Media's "Beverage Innovator of the Year" Award for 2006. In 2007, Forbes named him one of the top ten tastemakers in the country for wine, beer and spirits.

Garrett Oliver's latest book is The Oxford Companion to Beer, published in September, 2011 by Oxford University Press; he is Editor-in-Chief. Covering more than 1,100 subjects, it is the most comprehensive reference book on beer ever published.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Stanley VINE VOICE on November 28, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was torn whether to buy this as a print book, or Kindle edition. I decided to get the Kindle version because of the value of being able to carry it with me in my phone, computer, kindle, and iPad. I don't regret the decision.

The Kindle illustrations are quite good, which is not always the case. I always hesitate to buy Kindle books with illustrations. In OSX Lion, you can three-finger drag images from the book (on the cloud reader) into a word processor and see what the specs are. The images all seem to be 425ish-by-X (where X<425). Plenty of resolution to look very crisp in an ebook. Plenty of beautiful color. The book is not heavily illustrated. The one bitmap table I came across was readable, but not especially crisp (a very nice unit conversion chart).

The biggest letdown of the Kindle edition is common with Kindle books: the index's page numbers are useless. The index is also not hyperlinked. Thankfully, the contents are hyperlinked and most Kindle software will allow you to do a text search.

There are lots of very good web links following various sections. A couple of examples are that the draught section ends with a link to the BA's excellent technical manual, and the Cicerone section ends with a link pointing to the organization's web site. It is definitely a modern book that embraces the web.

There are already many reviews covering content. I haven't read enough to comment on that. What I have read so far has been accurate and concise. It isn't terribly in-depth on any topic, but covers a very wide range of topics.

Highly recommended. If you carry a smart phone, Kindle, or iPad it is a heck of a nice thing to keep in your pocket or bag. I'd give it five stars if the index were hyperlinked.

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38 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Beerior on June 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
While a comprehensive survey of the past and current state of beer and brewing with regards to style, history, notable breweries, technical aspects, etc; the OCB has several flaws which diminish what could have been a powerful work and an indispensable reference. The entries are of greatly varying quality and depth, even when dealing with closely related topics, and contradictions are not uncommon. Entries also frequently digresses into and are even sometimes dominated by discussions which are tangential to the topic at hand. Furthermore, reading from a technical/chemical stand point, many such entries are somewhat watered down and seem to serve to buttress common, if not properly conceived, notions rather than attempt to elevate a less knowledgeable reader. In short: the OCB was written with readability in mind, rather than to be a serious work of reference. The entries on beer history and notable breweries are quite well written and researched, however the notables breweries list does seem to be biased heavily toward traditional continental breweries.

In summary: not a bad read, and an accessible overview of the past and current state of beer and brewing. The OCB sets up a less experienced reader to further explore a rich and fascinating world, but could use quite a bit of work regarding both editing and overall content in order to better inform and elevate readers of all levels.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"The Oxford Companion to Beer" is a complete A-Z listing of all things Beer. Want to know about your favorite brewery? Interested in brewing terms like wort, hops, mash? This book has it all.

The book takes all of the topics and presents them in alphabetical order like a dictionary. There is a handy grouping of terms into categories at the beginning of the book to guide you in finding terms that you might not remember the name of. Each entry is succinct and skillfully written by experts from the brewing industry and academia.

The printing quality of the book is superb. The book feels as substantial as the content it contains with each page printed on high quality smooth paper. The book compares to the finest quality dictionaries in print.

If you are interested in beer and want to have handy reference around for research or conversation starters, this is the book to have.
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51 of 73 people found the following review helpful By D. Cutter on October 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Okay, that may be a bit facetious. Nothing of this length and quality exists on the market today, so in that it is quite impressive. (though, if my memory serves me correctly, there is a "Beer Bible" coming)

However it suffers from:

a) The simple need to proofread and error correct,

b) A bit of an East Coast bias (then again, I am about as West as one can get in the main 48 so... however, I have yet to find mention of Widmer (anyone?) or regional mention of the PNW or Colorado)

c) Did I mention proofread and edit - this coming from someone loath to do either - but it is very noticeable and clearly sectionally dependent as well - I think some folks must have submitted too late for the proofreaders.

Oh, and for me personally, d) too shallow on fruit additives.

There are some key brewers missing, and a few regions criminally underwhelmingly mentioned. However in general it covers most topics... but it is no Modernist Cuisine. Myhrvold has set the bar for what to expect in a book attempting to be the 'comprehensive guide'.

Still while I have rated the 1st edition in the middle of the pack - I expect that will rise with the second edition, which if judging by the Companion Oxford Wine text, will come out in 2016.
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