With craft beer on the rise practically everywhere in the world, the desire to go out and experience new markets is becoming more and more attractive to beer geeks. What better way to accompany a tour to one of these foreign beer markets, be it a neighboring city or country even than by using a good ol’ fashioned guide book. Brought to you be the same publisher that release the fantastic The Complete Beer Course by beer afficianado Joshua Bernstein, Sterlien Epicures newest publication is The Pocket Beer Guide: The Essential Handbook to the Very Best Beers in the World, by Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb. Showcasing over 3000 beers from around the world, this beefy book is aimed at providing a somewhat detailed snapshot of the world of beer.
The book includes a colorful introduction detailing how to use the guide effectively and after one peruses the forward, you’ll be knee deep in a Frommer’s style guide book broken out by country. Europe, the United States, Latin America, Asia, Austrailia, and Asia are all included from Belgium to South Korea you’ll have your work cut out for you. Each brewery listed comes with the city it’s located in and a very brief description detailing 2-5 of the best beers offered. Beers are rated on 4 star scale, where 1 star denotes “Dependable Quality but unexciting” and 4 stars highlights “One of the world’s great beers, a champion.” You’ll quickly dive in trying to figure out how many of these top rated 3000 beers have you tried and if you agree with the rating.
As someone that lives in Southern California, my attention was immediately turned to the United States – California section where fantastic breweries like Firestone Walker, Green Flash, The Bruery, Alpine, Craftsman, Ballast Point, Fifty Fifty, and Societe listed. Strangely though, Eagle Rock Brewery is missing from the list among many others in the San Diego and Ventura County areas. It’s not clear how the breweries were selected for the book, but regardless of method it’s inevitable with the growing number of breweries in world, that some will be left out. This fact was something that I had to come to terms with when I was writing the Beer Lover’s Guide to Southern California.
Is this book right for me?
So now the million dollar question or rather $14.95 question. Is this book right for me? That depends on a lot of factors. The book does an excellent job of giving readers a broad birds-eye view of world beer. It’s easy to read and follow with its standard travel book layout. The only thing that it seems to be missing here is addresses for each individual breweries. The book itself is just as big as any other travel book, but because it focuses on the entire world, the reader can’t dive into serious depth in any one area. You’ll likely use it as a inspirational springboard for doing more research. Still it has an impeccable list of beers, with some fantastic chapter introductions so it’s definitely worth your money if you’re a craft beer book collector. I tend to prefer a more detailed guide book when I’m traveling so hopefully this is the start of a series of world travel books. If the focus was centered on each region specifically, I could see it being a fantastic companion for world beer travelers. As it is now, it’s a great conversation starter.