Archive | Books

Amber, Gold & Black

Think it’s too late to get a last minute gift for your beer connoisseur? Think again. British beer writer and historian Martyn Cornell published an e-book entitled Amber, Gold & Black: The Story of Britain’s Great Beers. Best of all, it’s only available as a pdf so you can buy it online right now at the Corner Pub and have it in plenty of time for Christmas.

Amber Gold & Black

And not only is it easy to buy online, but it’s one of best books on beer styles ever written, the result of years of painstaking research that shatters many of the myths surrounding the origins of famous beer styles like Porters and India Pale Ales.

Chapters cover sixteen different beer styles and go into great detail about each one of them. Did I mention it’s also a pleasure to read? And it’s filled with photographs, graphics, beer labels and old brewery advertisements. No matter how much you think you know about beer, you’ll learn a great deal from Cornell’s efforts. Oh, and did I mention it’s a mere fiver? At just five pounds, it may well be the bargain of the year, too. Seriously, take it from me. You should buy this book. One for yourself and at least one as a gift. It’s that good.

Here’s more information from the publisher:

Amber, Gold and Black, The Story of Britain’s Great Beers, by the award-winning beer writer Martyn Cornell, is the most comprehensive history of British beer styles of all kinds ever written, the true stories behind Porter, Bitter, Mild, Stout, IPA, Brown Ale, Burton Ale, Old Ale, Barley Wine, and all the other beers produced in Britain.

This ebook is a celebration of the depths of British beer, a look at the roots of the styles we enjoy today, as well as those ales and beers we have lost, and a study into how the liquids that fill our beer glasses, amber gold and black, developed over the years.

Astonishingly, this is the first book devoted solely to looking at the unique history of the different styles of beer produced in Britain.

Martyn Cornell also writes online as The Zythophile, easily one of the most informative and interesting beer blogs on the planet. You can get a sample of his writing there, too, if you’re not yet convinced that you should buy Amber, Gold & Black.


Great Beers of Belgium, 6th Edition

Michael Jackson’s legacy as “the beer hunter” prevails in the new sixth edition of the Great Beers of Belgium. This final text, 15 years in the making, displays Jackson’s superior talent as a writer and his tireless passion as a lover of beer.

This updated version contains listings covering 326 different beers across 13 style groups, on more than 500 pages of text and enhanced with nearly 800 color photographs. The text includes over 50% more information than the third and last edition published in the U.S. in 1998.

“Michael Jackson’s fascination with Belgian beer drove him to continuously research and expand this book,” said Ray Daniels, Director of Publications at the Brewers Association. “This final revision gives the most complete picture of Belgian beer ever assembled in the English language.”

Great Beers of Belgium

Along with an image of the beer bottle and appropriate glass, Jackson intricately describes each beer’s character and flavor. He takes care to provide the reader with the background of each brewery and the personal stories of the people behind these amazing beers.

“Revised and updated shortly before his death, this work represents the pinnacle of Jackson’s meticulous research and masterful writing, presented in a beautifully illustrated visual environment,” said Daniels.

Originally a newspaper reporter, Jackson began to fully focus on the worldwide resurgence of beer in the mid 1970’s. His award winning television series, “The Beer Hunter” has been shown in 15 different countries. Jackson’s accolades extend to all mediums of journalism and in 1997, he was the first non-brewer to be inducted into the Confédération des Brasseries de Belgique, The Union of Belgian Brewers.

The book is supplemented with practical information for travelers to Belgium and those who seek good Belgian beer in communities around the world. It is perfect for at-home reference and as a travel companion. Visit Great Beers of Belgium for more information and sample listings. The book may also be purchased online at the Brewers Association’s Beer Enthusiast Store, at

Shine On

In the early 1900s, German and Czech immigrants in the town of Shiner, Texas, started a brewery to make the kind of beer they’d left behind in their homelands. They ultimately decided to hire a real brewmaster, and looked to one of the old countries for the right guy. And what a guy they found. Kosmos Spoetzl. A one-time Bavarian army soldier and classically trained brewmaster who came to Texas by way of Egypt and Canada.

Kosmos was a larger-than-life character and, it turns out, a great brewmaster who eventually bought the brewery, gave it his name and kick-started Shiner Beers down the dirt road to fame. Jump ahead to the present day. “The Little Brewery in Shiner” survived hard-scrabble beginnings and tough times to become a legend and one of America’s oldest and most successful independent breweries. The flagship beer, Shiner Bock, has achieved iconic status, with millions of passionate fans around the world. What happened between founding of the brewery and where it is today reads like fiction. But it isn’t. It’s all true.

Shine On

And if you want to find out what happened, you’ll have to read Shine On, the story of the first 100 years of the Spoetzl Brewery and Shiner Beer. The author is native Texan and longtime Shiner drinker Mike Renfro. And he’s about to be loved by Shiner fans nearly as much as Kosmos himself. Mike had access to records and photographs that few people have ever seen, plus an army of Shiner citizens, current and former brewery workers and Shiner lovers whose personal stories helped shape the book. Armed with all of that, Mike put together a fascinating and entertaining tale that’s part history, part love story and all Shiner.

More than that, it’s also a beautiful book, with historic photos and original illustrations that bring the narrative to life. Every Shiner fan will want to sit and savor Shine On, accompanied by some cold beer, of course.

McGarrah Jessee, known for creating Shiner’s familiar advertising and packaging designed the book, which was published by Bright Sky Press. It’s available at bookstores, on and at many beer retailers.

Christmas Beer

This may be the best Christmas present for a beer lover … ever, at least in terms of its connection to the season. Christmas Beer, or the full title, which is “Wishing You a Merry Christmas Beer, The Cheeriest, Tastiest and Most Unusual Holiday Brews, is all about beer for the holidays. Lavishly illustrated with more holiday beers than you knew even existed, author Don Russell — better known to the world as Philadelphia beer columnist “Joe Sixpack” — recounts tale after tale of the traditions and history that made holiday beers so special. There are also recipes, trivia and Russell’s list of the “World’s 50 Best Christmas Beers.”

Christmas Beer

Published by Rizzoli Books with a list price of $19.95 in the U.S. ($22.95 in Canada), you can order one at Amazon right now for $13.57, a savings of 32%. Pick one up for yourself and beer lover on your shopping list. The book is even small enough to fit in the average Christmas stocking.

The Best of American Beer & Food

This post originally appeared at Appellation Beer.

The Best of American Beer & FoodOnce a good ol’ beer person, always a good ol’ beer person.

Lucy Saunders can’t help herself. She’s a beer person, and that shows up on every page of The Best of American Beer & Food: Pairing & Cooking with Craft Beer.

(Disclaimer: Lucy has been a friend of my wife and I for 15 years, and we both had a small hand in this book. Now I’ll go back to calling her Saunders.)

This is the book you’d expect from someone whose preparation included working as a line cook in top flight restaurants where beer is treated with respect, but also the book you’d expect from somebody who has gone to brewing school. A beer person. Somebody who can talk to us about the pleasures of food and drink without being fussy.

She isn’t pedantic when she writes about finding the right beer for a particular dish, nor when it comes to executing a recipe. She’s friendly, as you’d expect of a beer person.

So what’s in the book?

– Primers for enjoying the decadent side of beer, with separate chapters on beer and cheese, then beer and chocolate.
– An affirmation of what’s going on across the country, with interviews from every region.
– Recipes, of course, six or seven dozen of them, many made with beer and all intended to be enjoyed with beer.
– Food porn. Full-page, color pictures worth at least a thousand words apiece.

Who should own the book?

– It helps if you can cook — some of the recipes are challenging.
– Anybody looking for pleasures to enjoy with friends. Be ready to be inspired to prepare multi-course meals served with a wide range of beers.
– Anybody looking for simple pleasures. You can pick a single dish, a simple one, and stick to one beer.
– Food lovers who are ready to be surprised. I fully expect cooking types to find a recipe that looks too good to pass on, discover it is prepared or served with a beer style new to them . . . and have a new favorite beer.

No, this isn’t totally groundbreaking. Brewers Publications, the publishing arm of the Brewers Association and producer of this book, also put out Candy Schermerhorn’s Great American Beer Cookbook in 1993. There have been several outstanding books since (and soon I’ll get to reviewing Great Food Great Beer, also brand new) and you may want to buy one or more of them as well.

What I appreciate about The Best of American Beer & Food is the combination of how and what. Saunders’ approach elevates beer, in no small part because dishes that take a little more effort to prepare might just deserve beer with a little more flavor.

In the foreward, Randy Mosher writes, “But all too often in the world of fine food, wine swaggers into the dining room like it owns the joint, while beer is left to skitter in the shadows from crumb to crumb.”

In this book Saunders doesn’t swagger, but she sure does own the joint.