The World Atlas of Beer: The essential guide to the beers of the world (October 12, 2012)
by Dean Tudor, www.deantudor.com
The World Atlas of Beer: The essential guide to the beers of the world (Sterling Epicure, 2012, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-4027-8961-8, $30 US hard covers) is by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont, both internationally recognized beer writers. Beaumont is actually a Torontonian, and has been writing about beer for decades.
This guide covers about 35 countries, with tasting notes for over 500 beers, some of them honest and brutal (e.g. Duvel). It opens with basic primer data plus pictures of the process, matching beer with food, and differences between craft beers and mass-produced beers (really?). There are lagers, pilsner, Trappist and Abbey Ales, stouts and porters, IPAs, dark beers and bock, and "extreme beers."
Now I know the selection of beer is limited because of the pages available (256 pages make for 16 signatures here), but there is a lot of white space and more beers could have been commented on. No space for Innis & Gunn? Surely not...
Nevertheless, it is colourful,
it does have label reproductions, it is fastidious in its comments, there's a lot of good stuff here, and the price is dirt cheap. You can get it from the Book Depository (Guernsey) for CAD$22.22 with free shipping and no taxes, which beats Amazon.ca. So all in all, it is a useful book, complementary to The Oxford Companion to Beer (published earlier in the year at US$65 but with no colour), and a bargain price for what it is. And it will be extremely useful for the average beer drinker who wants to know a little bit about a lot of things, as Peggy Lee used to sing.
Audience and level of use: beer lovers everywhere, libraries.
Some interesting or unusual facts: It's somewhat strange that an acknowledged international expert such as Beaumont was not a contributor to The Oxford Companion to Beer, while Tim Webb was. The Consultant Editor here, Joanna Copestick, also a well known beer writer, was not a contributor to the Oxford. Maybe that explains why The Oxford Companion to Beer was not listed in the atlas's bibliography. I'm just sayin'.
The downside to this book: There's not much of an Atlas-feel. The maps are flat and variable. Some locate the brewery (Netherlands), others do just craft breweries (Ireland), and others do "breweries per 500,000 people 2011" (Germany), while others do tradition influences (Canada).
The upside to this book: Great-looking pictures of people, places and things, as well as beer labels and adverts.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.