Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Randy Mosher and My Favorite Beer Books

I hesitated before buying Randy Mosher's new book, Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink. After all, I'm a relatively veteran homebrewer, as well as an officially recognized BJCP beer judge. Plus, just about every other book or article I read these days has something to do with beer. So really, what else is there for me to learn? Since my thirst for beer information apparently knows no bounds, I picked up a copy of Tasting Beer nonetheless. And how glad I am that I did. As author of two previous books and countless articles in beer-related publications, and as a member of the Board of Directors of both the Brewers Association and the Chicago Beer Society, Mosher is something of a celebrity among the homebrewing community today. Moreover, his professional background is in graphic design, and one feature of his books--I now own all three--is that they are visually very attractive publications. Mosher's first book, The Homebrewer's Companion, is now somewhat out-dated, as many of the attractive worksheets it contains have been effectively replaced by excellent homebrewing software that is now widely available. (On my Mac, I like both BeerTools Pro and BeerAlchemy.) Mosher's second book, Radical Brewing, remains a classic, and it should be on the bookshelf of any homebrewer looking to experiment with new ingredients and otherwise move beyond the beginner's level. But it's his new, third book that will likely establish Mosher as one of the English-speaking world's foremost experts on beer. Rather than addressing homebrewers, this book targets a much larger audience. It's for beer drinkers, rather than beer makers, and it would be ideal for anyone interested in getting more "gusto" (a wonderful Italian word that Schlitz marketers unfortunately hijacked) out of their daily pint. Mosher provides a true celebration of beer. He guides the reader through the world's greatest drink's history, science, and many stylistic personalities, while also providing practical advice on how best to serve and enjoy your beer (glassware selection, serving temperature, food pairing, etc.). Mosher displays a deep and detailed understanding of beer that only an experienced brewer and afficionado such as himself can provide, yet he does so in a very readable, concise, and straightforward manner, so that a complete beer novice would enjoy this book, too. This one is for beginners and experts alike. If you like beer, you'll love this book. Here, then, is my new list of Favorite Beer Books:

Best Book on Enjoying Beer

Randy Mosher, Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink (2009) Honorable mention: Garrett Oliver, The Brewmaster's Table (2003); Michael Jackson's Beer Companion (1993, 1997)

Best All-Around How-To Guide for Home Brewing

John Palmer, How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Beer Right the First Time (2006)

Honorable mention: Charlie Papazian, The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing (1983)

Best Guide to Homebrew Recipe Design

Ray Daniels, Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Styles (1996, 2000)

Honorable mention: Jamil Zainasheff and John J. Palmer, Brewing Classic Styles (2007); Randy Mosher, Radical Brewing (2004)

Other Categories

Best world history of beer: Ian S. Hornsey, A History of Beer and Brewing (2003) Best U.S. history of beer: Stanley Baron, Brewed in America (1962) Best brewing science textbook: Michael J. Lewis and Tom W. Young, Brewing (2001)

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