The Oxford Companion to Beer
In the wake of America’s craft-beer revolution, the 920-page Oxford Companion to Beer has arrived at the perfect time. I received the massive encyclopedia last Christmas, and even though it feels like I’ve barely made a dent, I’ve nonetheless gotten drunk on the exhaustive, scholarly compendium to all things beer put together by editor Garrett Oliver (brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery). The more than 1,100 entries are organized alphabetically, prefaced by a handy outline of entries by topic ranging from beer styles (“rauchbier is a German-style beer brewed with smoked malt”) to hop regions (“Yakima Valley, [Wash.], hop region is the largest hop-growing area in the United States … The first hop rhizomes in the Yakima Valley were planted in 1872 …”). Of course, locals won’t be surprised to see entries for Chico’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. as well as founder Ken Grossman, with credit given for the brewery’s signature Pale Ale being “the progenitor of the American pale ale style.” And, since it’s been a few months since it was released, you can now find it at many retailers for nearly half its $65 list price. However much you pay, it’s a worthwhile indulgence.