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The Oxford Companion to Beer (Oxford Companion To... (Hardcover)) Hardcover – October 7, 2011
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"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 Weekly.com
"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." --AGoodBeerBlog.com
"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."
"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." --TotalBeerEnlightenment.com
"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." --Fortune.com
"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-.'" --TheAtlantic.com
"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." --BostonGlobe.com
"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." --Esquire.com
"[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." --USAToday.com
"[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 Health.com
"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."
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Top Customer Reviews
My greatest complaint is that it is not all-encompassing and that is hard to achieve with any book in print and with the way craft beer is growing. It's hard to tell what's missing because it is an impressively sized book and has a lot of information. For example when I was enjoying a gose the other day, I grabbed this book to read about the style and found that it was not listed.
For one thing, it is remarkable how far beer has progressed in the United States in just the past few decades. The choices available in the 1970's, when I was in college, were pretty much the well-known mass-market brewers. Import beers were also available, but expensive and not yet well established. Today, it is not unusual for large supermarkets to offer a wide selection of choices of beers from brewers both large and small, regional craft brewers seem to be setting up shop in every major city and town, and restaurants offer beer selections as extensive as their wine lists. We have here in the United States a variety of high quality, craft beer products, that is greater than in any other place in the world. Imagine that American craft brewers now serve as an example to the traditional brewers in places such as Germany and England!
But that does not begin to describe the history of beer, which according to this book predates the baking of bread, or the variety and complexities of beer, which is described as "the most complex and varied of drinks". Not to mention that beer is said to be the third most popular drink in the world, after water and tea!
Into today's very dynamic beer culture this book, The Oxford Companion to Beer, now appears, perfectly timed to serve not only those who consume and enjoy beer, but also brewers (both amateur and professional), restaurants, and all who are interested in beer and brewing. It is an impressive reference for "all things beer".
The main body of the book consists of an encyclopedic compilation of articles, 868 pages worth (the entire book is approximately 960 pages, including the prefaces), covering a mind-boggling array of beer terms and topics. The organization is superlative, as you would expect from an Oxford Companion; for example, the book begins by providing a "Topical Outline of Entries", grouping the articles into 33 subject categories, from "Breweries and Brewing Companies" (126 covered), to "Viruses and Diseases", to guide the reader in utilizing this vast resource.
Total entries in the book are over 1000 (I did not try to count them), written by 165 beer experts from over 20 countries. Many of the entries are accompanied by footnotes and cross-references, and all have the author identified. The contributors are all listed in a directory at the back of the book, with their position or association briefly stated.
Alphabetically, the articles range from "abbey beers" (produced in styles "made famous by Belgian Trappist monks") to "Zymurgy" (the chemistry and science of fermentation by yeast; also the name of the magazine of the AHA, the American Homebrewers Association). Articles also cover:
- Beers and beer styles: 107 are described, from "ale", to "winter ale", and including in between: "Bière de Mars", "dubbel", "kvass", "sahti", and "sour beer".
- Comprehensive explanations of brewing techniques (within the subcategories of Mash and Mashing, Fermentation, Brewing, Post-Fermentation, and Chemistry)
- Discussions of all of the ingredients going into beer: all varieties of Hops (70 types), Barley, Yeast, Wheat, Malts, and Bacteria
- The history of beer, culture and customs.
Here you will also find appendices with:
- A comprehensive directory of websites, magazines, and newspapers devoted to beer
- A directory of Beer Museums (worldwide)
- A listing of Beer Organizations and Enthusiast Clubs (worldwide)
- A calendar of Beer Festivals (worldwide)
As a final illustration of the vast content, here are some examples I've selected from my initial browsing through the book:
- Articles on regions of the world associated with beer, including Britain (6 pages), Germany 6 1/2 pages including a map illustrating locations of breweries and brew pubs, and separate articles on German hops and German pilsner), and even 1/2 page on the Ukraine.
- Articles on the major brewing companies (Anheuser-Busch gets 4 1/2 pages for example) and many of the smaller brewers.
- Important persons in the history of beer.
- Over 5 pages on Public houses (pubs)
- 5 1/2 pages on the history of beer (as a separate article along with 28 others related to beer history, covering Prohibition, beer in colonial America, and so forth).
The quality of the book is excellent. It is very nicely printed (in the U.S.) and bound. There are 16 pages of high quality color plates in the center, and illustrations throughout. It is printed on acid free paper, large format (slightly smaller than an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper), and heavy to pick up and hold.
This is truly a treasure trove of information, even for the casual beer drinker who might be interested in browsing through the articles and picking up tid-bits of information on beer varieties and history. It is not a cheap book to purchase, but what a great gift for the beer connoisseur (or wannabe connoisseur!).
And finally - the author of this book has also written The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food, which I have not yet read but based upon the reviews also sounds like an excellent book on beer.
I've been brewing beer for ten years now and still feel like I may know the specifics, but the miracle of fermentation bringing mellow joy still happily baffles me. It's fun to learn about all those yeasty beasties in their frothy oceans of ale, and the OCB aims to cover any and all topics the brewer and/or drinker might have in mind; it seems to have hit the mark. There are a whole tonne of somewhat arcane things Oliver mentions here that make for fascinating reading.
Well printed on good paper, this volume seems destined to be perused on many sofas for many years while many beers are lifted. And so should it be, for we gentle lovers of ales and lagers have always deserved our own reference book. And this is without doubt the Beer Book we have been waiting for.
While there is room for improvement, this first edition is still an awesome thing to have on your shelf and would make a fantastic gift for the beer nerd in your life.