I awaited the delivery of this tome with the anticipation typically reserved for the over-excited.
I expected a book packed with hints and tips on how to awaken your tastebuds, to chart an aley course of huge discovery.
There are bits and pieces to sate this ravenous appetite for practical knowledge, I won't deny that.
But by and large this book is about how beer's made, served and, well, it's a little bit poncy to be considered hugely beneficial to the wannabe connoisseur of the foaming flagon.
For beer purists, historians and those with a distinctly unhealthy obsession with what happens when hop goes on a lingering liquid lunch with roasted malting barley, this is a legendary book. That's why I've happily donated a four-star rating.
It's a great gift-giving text. If you're short on prezzies for dad at Xmas, you should automatically gravitate towards the Buy Now button or whatever it is these days.
But if you're absolutely intent on refining your tongue and getting the skinny on aromas, finishes and mouthfeels, get down the boozer and buy yourself a CAMRA card instead.
This book really delivers what it promises in the title, and will make your beer tasting much more rich and enjoyable experience. As a homebrewer, I found this book very welcome addition to the bookshelf, as it covers aspects of beer (e.g. tastings, sensory system, beer judging, food pairings) that are covered only lightly or neglected in homebrewing books. Compared to other beer drinking books, it is _definitely not_ only a huge advertisement catalog for different beer brands, which is a great thing.
I'd rate this book medium level on the path the beer geekdom; for example, it is very thorough in describing the sensory system and the aromatic compounds found in beer, but the actual chemistry going on is not covered. This makes the book superbly approachable, but may put off some of the übergeeks.
I think this will be one of the beer books that I will come back to fairly often; most probably for organizing better tastings and beer dinners. This book also serves as a great introduction to beer judging, if you're into that kind of thing.
Some of the material is more appropriate for US readers, but there's plenty of stuff left even if you skim through those parts. For example, the list of styles and examples under the styles were somewhat alien to me (being from northern Europe), but that part is (on purpose?) in later part of the book.
Also, I have some doubts how informative this book is if one would be _only_ interested in tasting / drinking beer but not in other parts (e.g. brewing) of the beer. For example, some of the discussions about the malts, malting processes and parameters might be more appropriate for brewers. Maybe more appropriate (but less snappy) title could have been "Experiencing Beer", since the book covers so many different topics.
Overall, the book was great, and can be easily recommended to anyone who's already starting to go slightly crazy about beer.