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The Beer Wench’s Guide to Beer

26 June 2015

bwEvery year, there seems to be a new book coming out about the basics of beer.  I suppose that’s a good thing, since it means there is a large market for people who want to become more informed about drinking beer but don’t know where to begin.  Unlike breweries or beer styles, however, you only need one or two books to cover almost everything you need to know about diving into the beer world.  Books about drinking are like brewery tours—once you’ve gone through one or two, you’ve gone through them all, and the only reason to go on more is to see how your favorite brewer or brewery does things.

That being said, The Beer Wench’s Guide to Beer by Ashley Rouston, the self-styled beer evangelist and social media maven, packs more of a punch than many of the other learn-about-beer books.  It has the typical setup of listing beer by style, with facts and history about each one followed by the preferred glassware, tasting notes, and which food it pairs best with.  What the style descriptions offer that most others don’t, though, is a quick line about what to drink that kind of beer instead of.  If you’re a beer beginner and don’t know what you like, this book does help you choose, for example, a Belgian Tripel instead of champagne, Chablis, or a corpse reviver.

After you’ve gone through all the styles, you can move on to the next section to pick up some advanced knowledge—the ingredients of beer, how it’s brewed, how to officially taste a beer, and how to respect it with proper storage, cellaring, glassware, and temperature.  Afterwards, the book takes you even deeper into “having fun with beer,” which most other beginner books leave out.

There is a section that goes deeper into pairings, with an overview and then a focus on some of the most typical pairings you’ll find for beer—different kinds of cheese, tacos, and pizza.  And while other books may have smalls sections about food pairing, not many others have sections on cooking with beer (unless they’re a full-on beer cookbook).  Rouston adds in a few recipes for easy to make beer food, broken down into handy sections like Meat and Seafood, Vegetarian, Sauces and Dressings, Desserts, and others.

The book ends with another recipe section, only this time it’s recipes for beer cocktails, broken down by type of liquor. There is at least one recipe for the most popular of them, including bourbon, gin, mescal, and many others, as well as some tips on how to pair beer and spirits on your own.

All in all, it’s a pretty handy guide to getting your feet wet in the beer world.  It may not have all the information, but it’s got everything you need to get started and be able to keep up in conversation.  The nice part is the extra section about beer and food, which many books overlook.  You’re not going to become a total beer expert from reading this one, but if you’re just beginning, it’s as good a place to start as any, and better than most.

Be sure to check out our new website EatYourPHL for everything you need to know about where to eat in Philadelphia.

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