If you are searching for a great companion for your BJCP and Cicerone studies or your just looking to brush up on your beer styles, The Complete Beer Course is a solid choice. Like Randy Mosher’s instant classic, Tasting Beer, The Complete Beer Course – a Boot Camp for Beer Geeks, covers a plethora of classic style with a generous helping of history and commercially available examples. Joshua Berstein’s playful writing style makes it a pleasure to read, something that’s important when reading a book as dense as this. His witty puns, jovial voice, and general love for beer give the book character.
The book itself is beautiful. If your not looking to read it and just want a great beer coffee table book with magnetic visual appeal, you’ll be hard pressed to find something better. Each page is loaded with old style beer illustrations, color photos, and factual sidebars that make it easy to flip through and absorb knowledge. Still, if you do read it cover to cover, like I did, it’s a book that’ll help you brush up on your history and remind you of why you got into beer in the first place. It’s also one you can leave around the house when company comes over – it’s sure to stir up a conversation.
I would recommend reading it not necessarily in order, but by complete chapter at a time. Each one covers a general overarching style of beer or topic from Lagers, to Wheat Beers, to IPAs, Barley Wines, and Sours. In each section you’ll find history, great stories, and a small two-three page piece on a featured brewery highlighting their story. The lager chapter is very interesting considering the large push to make interesting pre-prohibition lagers in todays craft scene.
It’s comprehensive in a casual style so it may not answer every question you have like a Mosher book would, but it will definitely enrich your studying for beer centric tests in a more entertaining way. I highly recommend this book for both casual and advanced beer enthusiasts. At the very least it’ll make a great coffee table conversation piece that’s sure to get everyone who looks at it thirsty for craft beer.
The Complete Beer Course – Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes by Joshua Bernstein is currently available on amazon.com for about $15.