Odd book this; odd shape and with some odd beers and very odd arrangement of the countries they come from. For instance the countries are not listed alphabetically so we begin with Canada and finish with Australia. A good few pages are given over justifiably to the United States, Germany and England but why for heaven's sake are 4 pages given over to beers from Luxembourg, a country that is to brewing beer what Gordon Brown is to depth perception? Once I asked a friend of mine, a CAMRA member who lives in Luxembourg, what he did when he wanted a good beer, “Go to Germany” was the reply.
This book mainly contains beers from the multi-nationals who now own most of the world's breweries, hence the reviews of the beers are mainly lagers with the odd independent brewery thrown in for good measure. The German section does not even mention the Rauchbiers – beers brewed using smoked malt, one of which is even available in UK supermarkets.
Unfortunately the Guide to Beer does not go in depth as to who actually owns the brewery, for that try the very well written Beer Book, edited by Tim Hampson.
There are a few errors in the Guide to Beer. For instance a review of Pauwel Kwak from Belgium mentions its distinctive glass but the accompanying photograph does not show it! I mean come on, did the photo editor actually read the article? Similarly the photo of a foaming pint of real ale is supposed to represent “a bewildering array of quality distinctive beers”. The photograph is only spoilt by the large, brightly lit keg font of XXXX lager in the background!
England, Scotland and Ireland all get a mention in the book but the 39 or so breweries of Wales are missed out. No doubt the authors, based in Darlington and Kent could not find the time to research the Principality. Which is what lets this book down, reading it I have come to the opinion that the authors did not even drink any of the beers they write about, there are hardly any tasting notes and those that are there seem to have been supplied by the public relations department of the brewery. Still another book for the collection (I really must buy another bookcase) and worth splashing out £3.50 on it in the bargain bin section of Wilkinsons.