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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2012
The beer world certainly needed a book like this - but whether the Oxford Companion to Beer's flaws, many minor, some serious, make up for its comprehensiveness is a matter of debate. One problem is the uneven standard of the contributors. Some really know what they are talking about. Others: well, if the entry you're reading is by Horst Dornbusch, for example, don't believe anything in it until you've had it confirmed by an independent source. Certainly there are enough errors in the first edition of the OCB for someone to set up a Wiki for commentary and corrections (Google "OCBCommentary"). At the last count, around 160 entries in the OCB had been the subject of commentary and/or correction on the OCB Wiki. Some of the corrections to the OCB posted in the Wiki are substantial: more than 1,000 words on "pale ale, for example, almost that many on the entry for Pilsner Urquell. It's arguable that any first effort will inevitably have errors, but many of those that got through into the OCB really should have been picked up, from the possibly minor but irritating to a specialist, such as confusing "barrel" (the name of a specific size of cask, in the US 31 gallons) with "cask" (any large container for draft beer), to the major, such as the entry on Scotch ale, which is pretty much wrong from beginning to end. Let's hope the second edition takes the corrections on board.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2012
At long last, an Oxford Companion to Beer has arrived which, for me, completes the set with the Companion to Wine and the Companion to Food.

Like the other volumes, the Companion to Beer is a book to dip into and almost every page reveals some fascinating insights into aspects of the amber nectar.

It is not, however, flawless. Firstly, I was very disappointed to discover that it is an American publication and therefore has American spellings and phrasings. More importantly, there is an inappropriate American bias in the entries. For example, there are very large entries on prohibition and Anheuser-Busch. By comparison, Britain gets relatively short shrift and some of the minor, but interesting, beer-producing nations are hardly mentioned at all. Many minor American breweries get more space than important British, European and world breweries.

There are also factual errors. For example, under the entry on Shepherd Neame it states that Faversham is a port town. This may have been true 300 years ago but that description hardly qualifies now.

Finally, there are numerous typographical errors of various types.

Although this volume is a welcome addition the faults listed above are extremely annoying and distracting.
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on 16 June 2014
This is a comprehensive encyclopaedia of beer and brewing, starting with 'Abbey beers' and ending with 'Zymurgy'. There is a limited number of headwords but each carries a substantial article. The combination of the 'Topical Outline' at the front and the Index makes this book easy to consult, but beware: once you have started, one thing leads to another, and before you know it, you are late for the pub / bedtime / or any other scheduled event. Anyone using it to set a pub quiz can earn himself great kudos and everlasting detestation in equal measure, unless he be very careful!

Topics range from brewing chemistry: organic and inorganic, through biographies of individuals and of breweries, to measurements used in the industry, such as EBC and bittering units; degrees Plato and Balling, (the latter not indexed); the Zentner; equipment (what is a lauter tun, and why has it become so popular?) and dispense, too. Different beer styles are described, with their history, including the obligatory mention of ancient Egyptian brewing. Hop varieties; barley varieties; other grains, e.g. spelt, sorghum and wheat; law: starting with Hammurabi, and more … much more

In a work of this size, there are bound to be a few oddities: such as the idiosyncratic spelling 'candi' in the phrase 'candy sugar'; a spelling not supported by my Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, my Webster Collegiate Dictionary, nor, in case it were taken from Belgian practice and languages, in my van Dale English – Dutch, Dutch – English dictionary. Neither did a Google search for <define:candi> produce any likely candidate. (Pun not intended)

My own personal criticism is that too often an index entry lists page after page, with too few sub-headings, if any. Cf. Michael Jackson (The Beer Hunter) or Louis Pasteur: eleven entries for the former, ten for the latter, with no sub-divisions.

Were it less US-centric, it would merit 5 stars.
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on 17 May 2012
as an aspiring, young commecial brewer, i find this book is a great read as well as a very handy reference. a good blend of interesting trivia and sound technical information.
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on 16 March 2014
There ispretty much everything you need to know about beer particulary from a technical point of view.
Good reference book
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2012
I saw this book in a store nearby and immediately ran home, where I ordered it via amazon.co.uk. This amazing compendium about everything that envolves beer is simply the most complete work I've seen so far.
Far away from these common books, which bring us a selection of couple beers the author believes are the most important for a certain region or country (and, that's always just his opinion, cause everyone of us would have a different list; and therefore it's always disappointing to read these kind of works), The Oxford Companion to Beer shows a lot more; in fact, it brings almost everything.
For example, it brings details about 72 species of hop, about 24 regions where hop is produced, and all details that involve this ingredient; and the same for malt, sorts of water etc.
All kinds of common beers are described, bringing details and interesting/useful facts.
The way beer is produced is described for every country, and every kind of beer, besides description of important people who led brewery into what we know today.
I believe this is a masterpiece, a must have for every beer lover.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2013
I bought this for my husbands birthday. He's really in to local ales etc so this is a great gift. Large book, hence the price.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 May 2013
If you're a relative layman like me then this is a really great book to explain a lot of the more complex aspects of brewing.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2012
This is wonderful resource for the beer drinker. I bought it as a present, but couldnn't resist dipping in, and an hour later I was still dipping.
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