The beer book category is a rather crowded space; be it lists of beers to try before you die, or full reference guides on a number of niche categories, it’s safe to say there’s no shortage of choice for the reader.
With competition so fierce, standing out from the crowd by making a point of difference becomes increasingly difficult, but also integral.
Writers could attempt their own version of the many “list of beers” books, or even try their hand at the next great reference guide. Arguably, though, the smarter choice is to harness the most unique asset they own – their unique story and experiences. In British beer writer, Mark Dredge’s third book “The Best Beer in the World,” this is exactly what you get.
Upon first receiving the book I was almost expecting the latter – endless lists of beers that could conceivably hold up as contenders for the World’s Greatest Beer title. In reality, I was quickly pulled in by the impressive combination of unique beer experiences and useful city guides.
Dredge takes his reader on a global beer quest in search of the world’s best beer. His global travels lead him to a diverse list of beer meccas that are eloquently described in an informative, but approachable style.
Join him on a beer adventure as he lives like a monk in Belgium, travels California in search of the best IPA, celebrates Oktoberfest in the most unlikely location, attempts every brewery in Americas beer nirvana (Portland), and even confesses his love for macro holiday lager.
Some of the more unconventional stories are just as fascinating; the most unexpected is the section on Budweiser. Despite what you think of the brand or the beer, Dredge puts forward a valid point about their contribution to America’s beer story. Not only were they the first brewery to pasteurize beer, but they also pioneered many other innovations to make national distribution a reality – namely refrigeration. Budweiser was America’s first national beer, and while I’m not their biggest fan, I’ll agree with Dredge that the entrepreneurial story is both impressive and significant.
Despite some of the more unusual – but also interesting – elements of this book, fans of the more artisan side of brewing shouldn’t be perturbed. There are plenty of fascinating and exciting beer experiences to dig into. One of my favorite elements is the city guides, which serve to make this book an interesting hybrid between a travel guide and a reference book. The best locations to find local and world craft beers are laid out for several of the world’s most exciting beer cities from the likes of Pilsen, Munich, Portland, San Diego, and many more – including cities beyond Europe and the US. I’ve already got my bucket-list of craft beer bars for my up-coming honeymoon in Barcelona thanks to the city guide in this book.
Who is this book for?
Certain strongly opinionated sections of the beer community might find some of Dredge’s more controversial endorsements irritating. This book is definitely not for your dyed in the wool CAMRA member or your hard-core beer snob. To get the most from this book, you need to see past any prejudice you might hold about what constitutes the best beer around. In other words, while there is plenty of what one would deem “craft beer” in this book, there are other, somewhat surprising revelations, and a general sense there might be more to beer than just the liquid in your glass. To discover more, well, you’ll have to read the book!
Highly recommended for open-minded craft beer enthusiasts who enjoy travel, culture, and the never-ending pursuit for that next great beer that changes everything.
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