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Pocket Beer Book 2014

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by Stephen Beaumont & Tim Webb

Hot on the heels of their first collaboration, the well-received World Atlas of Beer, Beaumont & Webb now bring us their extensive beer knowledge – augmented by contributions from specialists around the world – distilled into pocket format.

Pocket Beer BookThe inspiration, as before, is unashamedly the work of Michael Jackson, whose own Pocket Beer Book (from the same publisher) ran into several editions. If this new interpretation does the same, the beer lover will be well served.

As with the original, the book is divided into country sections and spends its time highlighting the breweries worth seeking out, rating a selection of those breweries' beers with anything from one star ('dependable quality but unexciting') to four stars ('one of the world's great beers'), in the manner of Jackson himself.

For each beer, there's a succinct, one-line description. Adnams Southwold Bitter has 'complex marmalade and peppery Fuggle flavours', while Brooklyn Lager is 'toasty and somewhat Vienna like'.

Rochefort 8 is 'an interesting, ruddy-brown, often hazy ale with firm chocolate backtastes' and Früh Kölsch is 'soft, light and predictably understated'.

More Modern

Where the book visibly differs from its predecessors is in its layout. The Jackson books were tall and thin; this one is more squat but still just about pocketable, which, I guess, it should be, given its title.

The pages also carry a more modern look, with a two-column structure, oodles of white space for clarity and a smattering of colour labels and maps for illustration. Occasional boxes highlight the best drinking dens en route.

If there was one particular criticism I would have levied at the Pocket Beer Book in its earlier incarnations it was that the text was rather densely packed and took a little unravelling.

Beaumont & Webb have adopted a snappier approach, even to the point of eschewing ABV details, and the descriptions are certainly shorter. Some might find that a little frustrating but, in their defence, the authors do have so very much to pack in these days.

The preambles are similarly to the point, summing up the state of brewing around the world, defining beer styles and offering a very useful guide to beer and food pairing.

On the downside, I would have liked an index at the back but, overall, I very much enjoyed browsing the pages and I know I will be referring to this book time and again over the next few years, whether at home or on the road.

1st edition (2013)

320-page flexiback (Mitchell Beazley)

£12.99

Available now from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com

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