The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beer Tasting – one of the Complete Idiot’s series, not to be confused with the Dummy’s series. Alpha Books has grabbed Rita Kohn and “with the Upland Brewing Co” (Caleb Staton) to tell the world the basics of which beers are good, bad and why. It can be somewhat an encyclopedia for the more experienced and a tool to learn about the various styles and tastes of beer. We’ll run through the chapters and you can see if it’s for you. Each chapter has a “The Least You Need to Know” finish that has a soup-bowl of condensed knowledge. Learning these synopses will let you amaze your friends and, oh, give a start to your advanced education. As Carl Sagan said one night in a pub: “We’re all made of beer stuff.” Part 1 – A Brief but Fascinating History of Beer
- Early days – Ancient days of Egyptians to Ninkasi.
- Beer in the U.S. – A short look at colonists through the giants and Prohibition.
- Homebrewing starting in 1979.
- Craft Beer Comeback – Homebrewers go commercial, women join the industry, and modern growth.
Part 2 – Understanding Beer
- Ingredients (water, malt, hops, yeast and passion).
- The Brewing Process – About craft breweries.
- The Basic Styles – Ales, lagers, wheat.
- American Craft Brewing Industry – Today’s styles, ale, amber, porter, stout, IPA, barleywine, fruit wheat, lagers, lambics. If you don’t recognized all these basic styles you need Rita’s book.
Part 3 – The Art of Beer Tasting – The basis of the book and the middle 80 pages.
- Experiencing – Temperature, pouring, aroma, about taste buds, mouthfeel, finish. Malt and hop flavor, balance, aftertaste.
- The Next Level – See, swirl, smell, sip, swallow. Lacing.
- The Meilgaard Wheel – A four-page heavy-duty perforated guide is included at the front of Idot’s Guide. This traditional “Beer Flavor Wheel” comes in excruciating detail rather than the few-dozen included on web sites and books that you may have seen. It has been expanded by the American Society of Brewing Chemists. If you haven’t seen Morten Meilgaard’s analysis chart you need to buy this book.
- The Right Glass for the Right Beer – A 20-page section that goes into detail about traditional shapes (and why)
- Pairing Beer with Food – The five Cs: complement, contrast, cut, cleanse, calm. Food elements: Salt, Acidity, Sweetness, Fat, Spice, Heat.
- Pairing of food with specific styles.
- Holding a Craft Beer Event – Whether you are teaching or learning with your friends this is a must-do. Better than a wine tasting since a bottle of beer will feed a half-dozen people while opened bottle of wine is just too much. There’s also theme ideas such as having beer from each city before watching the game.
- Appendices – Glossary, books, museums.
In all, it’s an interesting reference (not all reference books are nearly as interesting). It talks about the styles of beer and the types of malt, hops, water and yeast that make them.
It can lead you to a better experience with your glass. Hopefully the Holding a Craft Beer Event section will be used by lots of people. Get this for Christmas and you can look smart as you hold a tasting for the Superbowl. Remember, as Rita says: "It’s a life-ling quest, not a cram course." $14.87 (Amazon – as low as $12) Get this for Christmas and you can look smart as you hold a tasting for the Superbowl. Remember, as Rita says: “It’s a life-ling quest, not a cram course.”