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The World Atlas of Beer by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


The World Atlas of Beer by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont
The first thing that strikes me about this book is that it is gorgeous. The cover is elegant and understated with a simple picture of a glass of pilsner on a black background. It is oversized in a coffee table book kind of way. Inside it is crammed with pictures that will make any beer lover drool, from hundreds of beer labels to scenes from breweries and other beery locations all over the globe.

Besides beauty, it's got brains, too. Borrowing a format that will be familiar to anyone who has ever looked at a wine book, it breaks the atlas down into beer relevant regions and introduces the reader to each one.

Often books like this that seek to present a global picture of beer start with a nod to the beverage itself. The first four or five pages are dedicated to a brief history of beer then a few comments about how it is made. Not so in this case. The authors set aside the first forty-four pages to take a good look at beer. After the history and brewing discussion, they examine nearly every aspect of beer that a beer lover could care to know about. They cover topics such as buying beer, storing it, tasting and pairing beer with food to name a few.

Only after making sure the reader is thoroughly familiar with the details that influence the modern brewing world do the authors launch into the regions. They start, naturally enough, with Europe. First, they focus on Belgium, then Germany, the Czech Republic, the UK and so on. There is a lot of history and variety here so it is no surprise that the European section is the biggest, taking up nearly half of the book all on its own. Next, they move to the Americas covering regional brewing in the US, the Caribbean, Canada and Latin America. Finally, they cover Australia, Asia and beer in emerging markets.

What most impresses me about The World Atlas of Beer is the authors' attention to the finer points of the beer world. By breaking chapter into sections and sub-sections they made it very approachable and yet manage to cover the subject with an astonishing breadth and depth.

One thing did stand out to me as I read this book. There is no mention of homebrewing. On one hand, this is understandable. The book is an atlas, it says so right there on the cover. Therefore, it is right that it focuses on how beer exists in different regions and countries of the world by looking at local, commercial favorites and brewing styles. Also, homebrewing can be a bit of rabbit hole sort of topic. I can imagine the authors making a conscious decision to avoid that trap by skipping the topic entirely. However, I find it difficult to think about modern world of beer without acknowledging the role of homebrewers. Even so, the book itself does not seem to be lacking for the omission and I doubt that most people will even give this detail a second thought.

In the end, I am pleased to give The World Atlas of Beer my strongest endorsement. It will make a great addition to your library or as a gift for that beer lover in your life.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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