Book Review: The Complete Beer Course

I’m happy to bring news and a review of a new beer book coming out The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes (buy on Amazon) by Joshua M. Bernstein. CBCCover This book feels great it’s got a solid weight to it and a nice texture on the cover, the pages don’t have that same texture, but they do have a nice weight. The pages are graced by plenty of pictures and sideboxes providing extra quasi-relevant information. For example on the page talking about the history of hops we get a side  box on hops relation to marijuana (they’re cousins). However, this can get in the way and be a bit distracting at times. There are also nice graphics behind the words on a number of pages, drawings of hop cones or stalks of barley for example, sure these offer some added beauty but also added difficulty in making out the words.

The general flow of the book is that each chapter is a “class” (remember this is the Complete Beer Course) representing one category of beer like lagers, wheats, sours, etc… Within each chapter, you start with a very brief description of the overall category plus some general history. Following that is a breakdown of each sub-style like Hefeweizen, Weizenbock, Berliner Weiss, and others being in the wheat class. These breakdowns contain some more history mixed with some quick descriptions of aroma, appearance, and flavor. Each class also has a 2 to 3-page brewery background on a brewery somehow related to that chapters category of beer. All this is done in a poetic prose that enhances the beauty of beer but can become tiring on occasion. Still, I often wish I had his kind of eloquence for many of my blog posts.

I also love the top 5 beers consumed writing this book

This almost screams to me for comparisons to Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer(my review or buy on Amazon). These are both great books that do an excellent job of conveying general beer and stylistic specific knowledge. However, this feels more like an entry-level 101 course with loads of pretty pictures and less depth while Tasting Beer is a sophomore level course that digs deeper into all things beer. If you’re feeling frisky and want my analogy to go further I’d have to say the Junior level would be Charlie Papazian’s Complete Joy of Homebrewing (buy on Amazon) because seriously… after 2 years of tasting and drinking beer you’ll want to start brewing. Then for the senior level I’d buckle down, study the BJCP and get your judging on!

The bottom line is that if you like beer this should be sitting on your coffee table at all times, just be wary of beer stains and disapproving spouses. If I’ve talked you into it then here’s another link to pick it up on Amazon!

FULL DISCLOSURE: I reached out to the author and his publisher was kind enough to hook me up with a free copy. To our readers, and any companies interested in sending me stuff, giving me free stuff impacts the review in only 2 ways. That I WILL review it and that and I WILL write a blog post about it. Giving me free stuff does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it.

One thought on “Book Review: The Complete Beer Course”

  1. One of Bernstein’s strengths is his ability to write for a mass audience and making beer easy to understand. I read/skimmed his first, Brewed Awakening, which was a fun read but didn’t present anything new that I hadn’t learned about already.

    Before you wrote it, my initial thought was: “I wonder how this stacks up against ‘Tasting Beer.'” I enjoy that book because of how in-depth it is and I think you’ve got a perfect analogy as it being the “201” course in a Beer Lover Learning Series.



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