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Beer is Proof God Loves Us: Reaching for the Soul of Beer and Brewing Paperback – 28 Jul 2014

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From the Back Cover

“A delightful book that not only reaches the soul of brewing but also tells us much about the soul and humanity of the author. Bamforth skillfully weaves a holistic and philosophical story about our complex society and the positive role that beer has, does, and will play in it. It is a joy to read and will leave the reader refreshed in mind and soul.”

Simon Jackson, Executive Director, Institute of Brewing and Distilling, London, England


“A heartfelt account of beer that reads as though I’m sitting at a pub table across from the ‘Beer Professor’ himself as he reveals personal tales and experiences over many pints of beer. A concise snapshot of the world of beer–past, present, and future. Remarkable insight into the behind-the-scenes world of beer.”

Charlie Papazian, Author of Complete Joy of Homebrewing; National Beer Examiner, http://Examiner.com/beer; President, Brewers Association (USA); and Founder, Great American Beer Festival


Don’t just drink beer: Experience it. All of it.


Discover the extraordinary culture and history of brewing: the remarkable craft that reaches back before written history. Visit legendary British pubs now fading sadly into memory…and the craft breweries, corporate boardrooms, and home brewers that are the new future of beer. Learn how to tell a great beer from a good one…find surprising new research on beer and human health…uncover beer in the Bible (and other unlikely places)…and discover divinity and transcendence in your very next brew.


Yes, there’s more to beer than you ever imagined: It is the most complex, subtle, and remarkable beverage humans have ever created. Its story deserves to be told with love and passion. Charles W. Bamforth brings all that, plus a lifetime of brewing knowledge and wisdom. Read his book, and you’ll agree with Benjamin Franklin’s apocryphal quote: Beer truly is proof that God loves us.

  • From Bangkok’s Singha to the Sierra Nevadas
    How institutional investing, indexing, and efficient markets theory promote herding 
  • Secrets of foam, color, clarity, and freshness
    From the bottle inward: the makings of a great brew 
  • Discovering the “Slow Beer” movement
    Traditional brewers, true beer culture, and real heritage 
  • God in a glass: the spiritual dimensions of beer
    Experiencing the magnificence of transformation and deliverance


About the Author

Charles W. Bamforth has been in the brewing industry for 32 years, including 13 years in research, 11 in academia, and 8 with the famed brewing company Bass. After an international search, he was selected as UC Davis’ first Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences. His Web site gives fuller details of his career and much interesting information about beer and brewing, besides: http://www-foodsci.ucdavis.edu/bamforth/.


Throughout his diverse career, he has embraced every dimension of beer, from raw materials and processing, through quality, to beer’s impact on the body. This makes him unique among “beer people” worldwide. He has published many research papers in the peer-reviewed domain, but also those targeted at the layperson, seeking to engage awareness and debate about beer as a product and as part of social fabric. This is his ninth book on beer (one of his earlier ones is in its third edition), and he is generally considered to be one of the world’s leading writers and speakers on beer, from an authoritative, but also humorous and engaging, perspective. In recent years his major research thrust has been on the wholesomeness and public perception of beer.


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Amazon.com: 125 reviews
70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
The state of the beer market 10 Oct. 2010
By Esther Schindler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm an avowed beer and food snob, and we used to brew our own beer. We have chosen vacation destinations based on what we'll eat and drink; this stuff is important to us. As a result, choosing a book about "the soul of beer and brewing" was a no-brainer selection from my Amazon Vine options. And there is no doubt that Charles Bamforth, the UC Davis Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences, knows his stuff.

I have strongly mixed feelings about this book. In some ways, I want to give it five stars; in others -- particularly when I disagree with the author's premises -- I have a violent urge to click hard on the two-star button.

Let me be descriptive, first. Despite a title that hearkens to an emotional relationship with beer (and I dare say that most readers recognize the Ben Franklin quote in his title), the book would be better called, "The business of beer." Bamforth gives an exhaustive, educational, and entertaining overview of the state of the beer market and how we got here. Chapters are devoted to such topics as "the re-birth of a beer ethos," anti-alcohol forces, and the merger of so many beer brands under a very few companies.

I am definitely smarter after reading Bamforth's book. I had lots of, "Oh, so THAT's what happened!" realizations from his explanation of the Thatcher-era Beer Laws of the 1980s and their effect on the UK beer market, for instance. (In the UK, 52 pubs are closing their doors every week.) I learned more than I ever imagined about the chemistry of foam (that is, the head on your glass of beer). And I appreciated his thoughtful pro-and-con discussions of the health claims for beer (in which he manages to be far more balanced than you'd expect from an allegedly biased author).

These are very different discussions, as you might imagine, and Bamforth manages to communicate and educate with both technical depth and a highly personal anecdotal style. I felt like I was listening to a college professor -- but the entertaining professor whose classes everyone wants to get into.

There are two problems that I have with the book: one my own preconceptions (which you may not agree with), and the other a matter of book organization.

The book's organization is... odd. It's one thing to include endnotes in a technical book, but almost half the book is given over to endnotes -- enough so that I used two bookmarks, so as to read the "main" text and addenda in concert. Many of the endnotes really should have been incorporated in the main text (such as the aforementioned foam discussion); others are personal and entertaining tangents that make me suspect Bamforth could not bear to part with the storytelling but couldn't justify it in the chapters he'd chosen. As an editor in my day job, I kept wanting to restructure his chapters. This isn't a killer problem for those who are interested in the topic or in Bamforth the person, but it certainly interrupted the flow of information since I was never sure which end notes were important, which were just technical citations, and which were "how 'bout that!" info.

The larger problem for me is that Bamforth *does* work for one of the "big guys" in the beer industry, and his personal opinions reflect that. Anheuser-Busch InBev, he says, commands almost 25% of the world's beer market, and so his concerns with beer-making are somewhat different than mine. Consistency is a stronger watchword for a business in which every glass of Bud (which I persist in thinking of as "barley soda pop") must taste the same. And as a dedicated hop-head, I'm a little overwhelmed by a beer expert who told the owner of Sierra Nevada that "Some of your beers are just about at my upper limit for hoppiness." ("He calmly looked back at me and... replied, 'Charlie, 25 years ago I was brewing in a bucket. Now I am producing more than 500,000 barrels every year and selling into every state in the nation. Do you mind if I leave things as they are?'") Bamforth gives credit to the craft brew market for giving beer attention again. And he asks us beer snobs to respect his own preferences; I do, honest I do, but it takes some effort on my part. It colored my reading of the book; depending on your background maybe it'll matter to you, too.

I don't think Bamforth's book will be enjoyed, especially, by someone who isn't "into" beer, as Bamforth doesn't take time to explain the role of wort or what a fermenter is. It isn't a book about "Isn't beer wonderful?" This book will appeal to home brewers and fans of craft brews -- at least for understanding the "big business" viewpoint of the industry. But you find that you are as uncomfortable-yet-interested as I am.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Perspectives on Beer and Brewing from an Industry Insider 15 Nov. 2010
By Terry Sunday - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Someone once posted a comment in an Amazon review that said: Review the book the author wrote, NOT the book you WISH the author had written. I found that to be very useful advice when I reviewed a pre-publication Vine program copy of Charles W. Bamforth's "Beer Is Proof God Loves Us."

"Extreme" craft beers with character are where it's at for me--Imperial I.P.A.s, Imperial stouts, barleywines, funky Belgians, over-the-top strong ales made with insane quantities of malt and even more insane quantities of hops. I'm an unabashed beer snob. When I'm trying to be polite, I describe the products of today's global brewing conglomerates, some of which Dr. Bamforth has been associated with in his career, as "industrial brews" (a term he finds "reprehensible"). If I'm not trying to be polite, I use somewhat different terms. Much of "Beer Is Proof God Loves Us" is about industrial-scale brewing rather than about craft- and micro-brewing. So what did I think of it--the book he wrote, that is, not the one I WISH he had written?

Well, I have to say that I enjoyed it very much. It contains a lot of esoteric information on many different aspects of beers and brewing. For example, even though I don't drink their products, I found his perspectives on the rise of the few huge international corporations that today brew most of the world's beer to be very interesting. He describes their frenetic consolidations and acquisitions in detail in Chapter 1, "Global Concerns." In Chapter 2, "The Not-So-Slow Death of a Beer Culture," he laments the near-demise of one of the world's most fascinating institutions--the British pub. In Chapter 3, "On the Other Hand: the Rebirth of a Beer Ethos," he tells the stories of a few American brewing enthusiasts and the companies they founded--companies that have grown large but still produce high-quality beers (although, with a few exceptions, they're not assertive enough for my tastes). Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada Brewing Company), Fritz Maytag (Anchor Brewing), Jim Koch (Boston Beer Company), and Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch (Gordon Biersch) all played big roles in the evolution of the modern American brewing scene. Other chapters deal with such topics as beer quality and the factors that influence it, neo-prohibitionism, health effects of beer (good and bad), societal perceptions of beer drinkers, etc. Most of it is pretty interesting stuff. As a bonus, an Appendix provides an exceptionally good, brief but informative description of the beer brewing process.

"Beer Is Proof God Loves Us" is a good source of information about parts of the beer business that, with my intense focus on extreme craft brews, I do not normally consider. As such, it was a short but enlightening and educational read, which I recommend to any curious beer enthusiast.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Toast-worthy 18 Oct. 2010
By RCM - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Though the book initially starts out somewhat dry, the book offers promising insight into the beverage industry. The initial chapters document the developments in the beer industry. These developments are fairly publicized, at least in terms of the big corporations. The charming side of this book is explored in the new trends in the beer industry, craft brews.

It is unlikely that any of the crafts brews will ever reach the proportions of the megabeer corporations. But even as the taste of their beer is unique, their stories also have a unique flavor. Visiting such microbreweries as Anchor, Coopers, and Sierra Nevada, I hope this book opens the hearts and coolers of many people.

One need not be a beer nerd to appreciate this book. It can be a learning experience for the layman and expert. The author does suggest reading the endnotes, as they add something to the story. I would tend to disagree. One man's idle chatter is another man's squandering of time.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Hodge podge of beer history 7 Oct. 2010
By owookiee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm a beer aficionado and home-brewer, and I still learned from and enjoyed Bamforth's book. He covers various and diverse topics from history of beer, history of breweries, history of the English pub system, brewing concerns, and (if you read all his endnotes, which I recommend) various tangents on cricket, the Premier League, and his past jobs.
The parts I found most fascinating were the origins of breweries and the ensuing corporate mergers and buyouts that have left which brands under which ownership. I also have a renewed respect for Sierra Nevada Brewery after reading about their green initiatives.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A humorous look at the world of beer 23 Sept. 2010
By S. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved this book from the very moment I started reading it! Written by Charles W. Bamforth, Beer Is Proof God Loves Us is a personal look at the history of beer, from its roots in ancient times to the state of the brewing industry today. It touches on such topics as canned vs. bottled beer, the brewery-owned pubs of Great Britain, Oktoberfest, and the mergers of American and foreign breweries. Bamforth's prose is witty, engaging, and sometimes shocking, but he certainly takes the reader on a wild ride. I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who loves beer and history.
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