Raise up a glass to
Hathor in the labyrinth,
This is billed as a "How-To" book, but you really should think of it as a "How-Come?" book. The subtitle reads "A Simple Guide to Making Great Beer," but the book should have huge appeal to anyone who has any interest in drinking great beer. It is like a little Alton Brown-esque, explaining the simple science-- well, sometimes not-so-simple-- behind brewing, giving any dilletente a chance to peek behind the curtain & reverse engineer their favorite beers. I don't have any intention of making up a batch of beer in my apartment any time soon, but I still want to know how mashing works, what exactly wort is, what hops bring to the table, what kinds of flavors are the results of additives & what are just a weird result of chemical interaction with the malt or the hops or the water or the type of yeast. Heck, just finding out that what makes a stout a "Russian" stout is lots of hops was good to know, but knowing that the antibiotic properties of hops where used to ship beers to far away places-- like Russia or the eponymous India of those famous pale ales-- is icing. Cantillion keeps everything they make, even if it seems bad? They just wait till it turns a corner? Interesting to know, given how much Jenny & I liked their Gueuze & Iris. Beyond the "funfacts" aspect of the text, chapter three-- "Drink"-- is just straight up intended for those of us with parched throats. How to pour, for instance-- turns out, if you are tilting the glass, you're doing it wrong. A guide to aromas & tastes, as well as the chemicals creating those smalls & flavors, extensive notes on cheese & meal pairings, a discussion of what type of glass you should use along with the all important why...all simple pieces of valuable know-how. Like Lauren Salazar of New Belgian Brewing Company says, it is like crayons. "As kids, we start out with a box of eight Crayolas: this is red, this is blue. Then you got to sixteen, & you're saying, this is magenta, this is periwinkle."