An essential beer reference

An e-mail similar to this arrives at least once a day here at

“I recently visited [fill in the city and/or pub] and had [fill in the name of the beer]. Since I returned home to [fill in the location] I haven’t been able to find the beer. Can you help me?

Signed, [Desperate/Thirsty/Impatient/Frustrated]

Because Michael Kuderka had a similar crisis a couple of years ago The Essential Reference of Domestic Brewers and Their Bottled Brands was born. (Yes, that’s a title long enough to make you as thirsty saying it as thinking about the words in it.)

“The concept for the book was the result of attending a beer festival at Waterloo Village here in New Jersey, back in 2004,” said Kuderka, who created the book. “At the festival my wife, Cathy, and I watched passionate brewers fill countless foam-topped glasses and we were able to tasted any number of fantastic beers, but when we attempted to find some of these bottled brands at our local retailers, we didn’t have a great deal of success.

“In some cases, we remembered the style of beer but not the brewery; in other cases, we knew the brewery but were not too sure about the exact brand. What was immediately certain, however, was that neither retailers nor I had a quick, easy way to satisfy my thirst for these new brands or to end my ongoing quest.”

Kuderka started by collecting data and logging it into a spreadsheet, but soon realized that compiling a list of all the domestic breweries and their bottled brands would require building a sophisticated database. The book reflects the depth of his information.

It is divided into six sections. Section I provides an alphabetical listing of all U.S. brewers. Section II features Color and Bitterness Comparison Charts, which should help retailers – sometimes as overwhelmed as consumers – understand the similarities in the appearance and in the flavor of styles. Section III opens with detailed descriptions of most of the styles from the color charts, then has a Beer Style Index that shows which breweries offer which styles.

Section IV charts what states breweries ship beer to, while Section V follows with a complete geographic index. Section VI then offers more detail on each brewery’s portfolio, complete with beer descriptions and labels.

The DBBB, and the companion web site, are designed for use by beer retailers, beer wholesalers, convenience stores, supermarkets, and restaurants, but will also be of interest to beer consumers.

Kuderka has targeted the 35,000-plus U.S. retailers of beer. “Eight-nine percent of the retailers we surveyed told us that they were looking for new brands of beer,” he said.

Kuderka quickly learned the U.S. beer landscape is still changing, so is providing updates through his web site, making additions to the database each month. A code providing one-year’s access comes with the book.

Does this mean we’ll no longer receive the “Where do I find this beer for my spouse’s birthday” e-mails? Probably not, but we expect it will improve the choice of what’s available on the local shelves for all of us.