Review: The World Atlas of Beer & Brew

Beer hits the book market, with perfect timing for Christmas.


Beer isn’t just for drinking anymore, it’s for reading about too. We got our hands on two new books about beer, ‘The World Atlas of Beer’ by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont, and ‘Brew’ by James Morton. Beer has now reached the level of popularity where there are books in shops about it. Beer isn’t just for drinking anymore, it’s for reading about too.

The 2nd edition of The World Atlas of Beer has the sub-heading “The Essential Guide To Beers Of The World” which surely depends on your attitudes to beer. It is a comprehensive companion to beers of the world, however, with endless information of the drinking habits of countries. The need for the 2nd edition comes from beer’s exploding popularity, as more and more breweries are opened and new drinks are released weekly, if not daily.

The Atlas helpfully explains beer to the novice or the expert, describing different styles and strengths, alongside the brewing process. Even those who have been drinking amber liquid for years will find new bits of information to add to their knowledge. The book tries hard to make beer quite an interesting subject, not just something to get drunk with.

A beery map of France.

Most of the book is a guide to beers of the world, as it hops from country to country explaining their beer culture. It really is beautiful, with great photography alongside helpful maps. There are countries you’d expect, like the UK and USA, alongside shorter passages about growing beer cultures in countries like India or Lithuania. Overall, a great introduction to beer of the world, and how to consume it.

Brew is a bit different, in that it is “the foolproof guide to making world-class beer at home.” The atlas wanted you to go out and explore the world one drink at a time, Brew wants you to stay at home and create your own. It is written by James Morton, famous for being on the Bake Off and writing about bread, but it turns out he’s fascinated by beer as well. Morton wants to ‘bring brewing to life’ and needs your help to do so.

The message of the book is clear.

It really is a complete textbook on home-brewing from kit beers to complicated ales. Another beautiful book, it tells you what it should taste like, how it should look, what could go wrong, and what to look out for. Morton makes it clear that the best thing about beer is the flavour, and that this book should be a gospel to making flavoursome drinks. If we had a bit more space and wasn’t so busy, we might actually think about attempting to brew. That’s what is good about the book, it makes it seem fun, and not technical and dull. People of my parents’ generation who home-brewed were weird men, this book makes me think that home-brewing might be a cool thing to do.

All we need now is a coffee table to keep these beautiful books on.

Brew and The World Atlas of Beer can be purchased in all good bookshops.

Words by Adam Becket @adambecket


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