This will be short, mainly because the book is fairly short and I already said most of this, back in 2015…
Jeff Altman is a nice man. Decent, a tad appropriately wonky, smart as heck, and able to complete tasks when put before him. That first sentence and the last attribute are what separate him from me because I have finished writing exactly ONE book in my entire life, after starting and abandoning at least twenty. Jeff has now finished TWO editions of his seminal work, The Beer Bible, reviewed here in The Pour Fool, in 2015, the ONLY book I have ever reviewed since starting this mad exercise, back in 2008. And that was after his publicist prodded me SEVEN times via email. Honestly, I read it only because I kept being pestered…and then really liked it and said so. Here is just a fragment of that review:
“Unlike a TON of other, more-scholarly attempts at this sort of all-in-one beer guide, Alworth does not spend all of his time and your attention span mercilessly genuflecting to European breweries. Yes, there is a lot of material about German, British, Belgian, Eastern European, and Italian breweries, but an appropriate amount, and absolutely zero of the lofty condescension so often dripping off the struts of anything written by import beer weenies. Alworth pays due respect to American breweries that do an admirable job of rethinking Euro beer styles and covers our emerging native styles with all due seriousness. “Fair and balanced” would be an excellent summation of this book’s content, if that phrase had not been eternally corrupted by Fox Noise.“
Jeff Altman doing podcast and that original cover
Nothing there that needs to be retracted, certainly, and the only real issue is how thoroughly he’s done this update. Happily, he’s sorta, uh, smacked that right outta the stadium. Jeff drags that 2015 knowledge base firmly into 2021 and adds focus based not so much on his own primary interests as those of the vast mass of the beer fans this is intended to reach. There is a meaty dissertation on our near-perverse preoccupation on our billion-and-one iterations of the IPA, nearly all of which bear only a passing resemblance to its English grandfathers, drawing no lines in the sand and making no judgments, while still seeming to infer that maybe this has gone, uh, a hair too far? Maybe? Sorta? Huh?
I’m not going to restate that first review. Go to the link above and read it, if you’re curious. A far better idea would be for you to shuffle off to your local seller of actual paper ‘n’ ink BOOKS, slap down a rather laughably small amount of bucks, and spend your time reading Jeff’s admirable job of NOT inserting Jeff Altman – a guy who does, by God, have a TON of his own opinions and is not particularly shy about expressing them – into every factoid in this essential book. There is enough meat here to feed the most carnivorous beer geek and an easy glide path for any beer newbie who’s seeking a smooth landing into more-than-cursory beer acumen. BUY THIS EFFIN’ BOOK. You will find yourself opening it and finding answers and ideas galore, very nearly daily.