STORY WRITTEN BY JAY R. BROOKS
Special to Digital First Media
The holidays are here. Best stock up on beer now — not just for you, but for your beer-loving friends and family, too. And if you want to be invited back again next year, don’t buy a fruitcake of a beer. Choose something special — something gift-worthy and not too popular or common.
As the number of craft beer devotees increases, so does their influence on the publishing world. Each year sees the release of more beer-related books. If you need a gift for someone who loves history, travel or both, there are three new books that fit the bill. “The Belgian Beer Book” (Lannoo Publishers, $60) is a wonderful new coffee-table book (really, it’s about the size of a coffee table) written by two Belgians, Luc De Raedemaeker and Erick Verdonck. With lavish photographs and exhaustive information, the 700+ page book covers the history, culture, beer styles, food pairings, cafes and breweries of Belgium, along with advice on visiting the country.
Great Britain rivals Belgium in terms of beer culture. Check out Pete Brown’s new “The Pub: A Cultural Institution — from Country Inns to Craft Beer Bars and Corner Locals” (Jacqui Small, $23). It paints a vivid picture of England’s historic and contemporary pub scene.
And for something closer to home, there’s a new book on “San Francisco Beer” (Arcadia, $17). Written by Bill Yenne, with a foreword by 21st Amendment’s Shaun O’Sullivan, the book details the city’s beer history from its Gold Rush beginnings to the recent craft beer resurgence.
Two great books from the Brewers Association came out this year, and either (or both) would make any homebrewer smile. Stan Hieronymus’ “Brewing Local: American-Grown Beer” (Brewer’s Publications, $16) traces how Americans have used local ingredients from farms, gardens, fields and forests throughout our history, and how those ingredients are being rediscovered by small brewers today. The book includes more than 20 recipes, as well.
New Belgium Brewing’s Peter Bouckaert and Elysian Brewing’s Dick Cantwell have written “Wood & Beer: A Brewer’s Guide” (Brewer’s Publications, $14), which covers every aspect of the wood and beer relationship, from storage, transportation, fermentation and aging to physiology, microbiology and flavor contributions.
Don’t miss Drew Beechum and Denny Conn’s “Homebrew All-Stars: Top Homebrewers Share Their Best Techniques and Recipes” (Voyageur, $16), which features more than two-dozen award-winning homebrewers sharing their best advice.
Looking for something more general? Try Joshua Bernstein’s “Complete IPA: The Guide to Your Favorite Craft Beer” (Sterling Epicure, $15). It’s everything you wanted to know about India Pale Ales, but were afraid to ask. And finally, there’s Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb’s wonderful “World Atlas of Beer, Revised & Updated: The Essential Guide to the Beers of the World” (Sterling Epicure, $30). First published in 2012, this significantly updated second edition came out earlier this fall. This book was at the top of my favorites list when it was first published — the new edition is even better.