Short Course in Beer. Lynn Hoffman, Skyhorse Publishing
Just imagine that you didn’t know anything about beer. Where would you start – who could you turn to? Most of us have served long arduous apprenticeships as underage drinkers sipping Special Brew in bus shelters or perhaps had a tall, older-looking mate ordering for us in the pub. Fortunately, this book has helped me discover a better way. A book written by an American chef and aimed at hospitality students and beer enthusiasts.
The books starts with a history of beer through the ages and followed by a useful chapter on beer tasting. It delves into structure, aroma, flavour and finish. Hoofman lists tips on food pairing and a recipes using beer. The author goes into great lengths to explain how beer is made and how the different malts and hops create different types of beer with very different flavours. The most unusual part of the book is a chapter devoted to the effects of alcohol, complete with a long explanation about what constitutes drunkenness. I have never seen this articulated before in a beer book but this volume originates in the good old USA where apparently quite a lot of people don’t drink. Something to do with the legacy of the Prohibition era.
I thoroughly enjoy the chapter about beer jargon which explains terms such as “Growler” (yes, there are two great things that have been given this name in the world) and “Lawnmower beer” which is any cheap cold refreshing lager that you swill after carrying out some manual work. The book concludes with a chapter on different beer styles so there is no excuse for not being able to tell your Faro from your Kolsch and a Roggen from a Weizen.
In Britain, we see working behind a bar as something that students do to supplement their grants. This book does try to inform both beer drinkers and hospitality industry workers about the subtleties of beer and how it should best be served. Perhaps we would not have so many pub closures if all pub managers were required to read this book.