Book Review: Randy Mosher's Tasting Beer
If you like beer you should own a copy of Randy Mosher's Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink. It's as simple as that. There are few books about beer that are as complete without feeling weighed down with too much information. You can pick up this book with no beer knowledge and then set it down a fully initiated beer geek. That's a good thing. At least I think so.
From the brewing process to drinking the damn thing every step in the life of a beer is covered. One of my favorite bits is the little Sensory Vocabulary callouts which cover descriptions, threshold, appropriateness and source. Of the many places I've read and seen off flavor details the ones included in Tasting Beer are some of the most informative. While there isn’t a significant amount of material covered for each of these items it’s perfect for a beer lover to understand what they may or may not be tasting. While I wouldn’t mind reading an entire chapter about Isovaleric Acid I think most readers are well served by the simple callout. Plus, as a homebrewer, Tasting Beer is a great reference tool to figuring out why your beer might have one funk or another. I’ve used it as a reference several times with my own homebrew.
The books take on beer styles is also very helpful. It's not exploding with details, but will give any reader a solid introduction to a particular style and what to expect from that style. With the food pairing guides you’ll be set to match up a great meal with a great beer. There also plenty of introductory history lessons throughout the book.
But how should you read this book? There are so many options now! For those familiar with paper I would suggest the actual book. It’s pretty cool. You get to hold it in your hand and flip through that pages and everything. Wow. For those unfamiliar with paper there are eBook options. When I first purchased this book I got it for my Kindle. I love my Kindle. I love e-ink screens. But this book is terrible as an eBook! First, there are a ton of great pictures. All the side-section pictures of old brewery’s remind me of the awesome book of my childhood where you could look at the inside of a battleship or aircraft carrier. Very cool. These pictures suck on an eBook. I did try using my iPad Kindle reader, but this too sucked. It’s hard to navigate the book and if you want to reference something quickly it’s just a pain in the ass. So get the real book instead of the Kindle version.
But, say, are you still wanting to avoid paper? There is yet another version of this book though the e-reader service Inkling. They offer apps for iOS and your web browser. And I have to say it’s a huge upgrade over the Kindle version. Flipping through the “pages” and scanning over chapters is way easier. The noting tool is better. The highlighting tool is better. The searching is better. Everything is better about this version. You can even fill out the tasting notes section (although, this tool seems a bit cumbersome to use as a regular everyday tasting journal). Honestly, I can’t wait for some more beer books to make their way on to this service as I think it would make for a great beer reference library. The BA’s collection of books published through Brewer’s Publications would be a particularly rad addition to Inkling. In my dream world you would get a digital version with every hardcopy you purchased. So if you are some publisher out there reading this, do it! Check out the sample at Inkling website.
Either way, if you need a great beer reference book, this is great book to add to you library.