If you think we’ve covered this title before, you’re not alone. Even WE feel we’ve covered a volume like this before. Could it be that The Oxford Companion to Beer is a first? Indeed, it is. Why it hasn’t hit the shelf earlier is just a blatant oversight on behalf of publishing house marketing teams everywhere. This puppy is going to sell like hotcakes. No coincidence that it was released as we roll into the biggest buying season of the year.


The book is described as, “The first major reference work to investigate the history and vast scope of beer. [It] features more than 1,100 A-Z entries written by 166 of the world’s most prominent beer experts. Attractively illustrated with over 140 images, the book covers everything from the agricultural makeup of various beers to the technical elements of the brewing process, local effects of brewing on regions around the world, and the social and political implications of sharing a beer. Entries not only define terms such as “dry hopping” and “cask conditioning” but give fascinating details about how these and other techniques affect a beer’s taste, texture, and popularity. Cultural entries shed light on such topics as pub games, food pairings and the development of beer styles. Readers will enjoy vivid accounts of how our drinking traditions have changed throughout history, and how these traditions vary in different parts of the world, from Japan to Mexico, New Zealand, and Brazil, among many other countries. The pioneers of beer-making are the subjects of biographical entries, and the legacies these pioneers have left behind, in the form of the world’s most popular beers and breweries, are recurrent themes throughout the book.


Packed with information, this comprehensive resource also includes thorough appendices (covering beer festivals, beer magazines, and more), conversion tables, and an index. Featuring a foreword by Tom Colicchio, this book is the perfect shelf-mate to Oxford’s renowned Companion to Wine and an absolutely indispensable volume for everyone who loves beer as well as all beverage professionals, including home brewers, restaurateurs, journalists, cooking school instructors, beer importers, distributors, and retailers, and a host of others.”


The only thing we can add is that it’s about twenty bucks cheaper on Amazon.com than at the bookstore. Some say it includes inaccuracies, but we have a hunch these errors won’t change the course of beer history much. Definitive though it is, it’s still just a book about beer.