Once upon a time I was in a restroom chatting with Jeff Alworth. It was a brief washing-your-hands-at-the-same-time conversation about beer, books, and publishing. I’d just finished a book, and Alworth was on the front end of, if memory serves, this book, The Beer Bible. Like many others, I regarded (still do) him highly as a pensive beer blogger, but the reason that I actually remember this encounter was his more relaxed attitude toward the draft he intended to send off to the publisher. While I admitted worrying over hitting the “send” button with errors attached to my final draft, Alworth simply pointed out that that’s what editors are for.
Yes, but bounced around in my head.
As Alworth’s proved over the years on his Portland, Oregon-based blog, Beervana, he’s no sixth grader handing in hastily drafted, big-lettered, double-spaced tripe in Mrs. Meyer’s English class like my buddy Tommy Williams probably did day after day. Alworth’s the real deal, an intelligent and talented writer tuned in not only to Beervana, but to the world of beer at-large.
An instant must-have for the beer lover’s library, The Beer Bible threatens seven hundred pages with a wealth of historical, stylistic, and geographical information, while including guidance on how to contend with it all. Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How all make appearances. And what’s more, the book shouldn’t feel the least bit threatening to even the newest of newbies. Oh, sure, he uses good words like surfeit and pedant now and again, but hey, the guy’s smart, and the book is as strong as his vocabulary.
That said, his editor missed a typo on page 162, and I would have scrubbed the beers whose malt and hop information was “undisclosed.” Those added up to the point of distraction, in my opinion. The section on American Ales must have been a wrestling match, but of all beers to neglect, I really thought California Common deserved a seat at the table.
In the final analysis, this book is excellent, and on top of that, he managed to tweet, drink beer, and sustain Beervana during the exhaustive work that went into pulling The Beer Bible together. This monster could have easily sprawled to a thousand pages, but Alworth ably distilled his extensive travel and research to a still-serious feat of manageable girth. He dealt well with the difficult decisions of inclusion and exclusion that are sure to fire up hoards of disgruntled beer pundits, but I for one would be willing to pat Alworth on the back for a job well done. When he hit the “send” button, he pushed something solid out there for us all.
FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher.