Book Review: Randy Mosher – Tasting Beer

This is my second book by Randy Mosher and they have been great in its wealth of information presented in an easy to follow narrative of beer history and culture. His first book, Radical Brewing, focused on the brewing history of beer from its incarnation all the way up to the stylized recipes for today’s modern beer styles. Tasting Beer shifts its focus as an “insiders guide to the worlds greatest drink”. Packed with a great deal of sensory evaluation, beer history, tasting profiles, and food pairing recommendations.

Randy Mosher does will in instructing the best fashion to drink beer from glass ware, serving temperature and pouring technique. There was a lot learned to serve the über correct beer. As the title of the book suggests, there is a lot of technical information to dissect individual flavors. Mosher instructs the cause and origin of individual nuances of beer both wanted and unintended. The book has instilled more confidence in my evaluation of beer as now I have some added vocabulary when it comes to identifying components in beer.

This book has been the greatest I’ve read when it comes to beer and food pairings. Each individual beer style is unique to food pairings that will both highlight or contrast competing flavors. My new pairing knowledge will certainly be fun in new found cuisine experiments.

Perhaps the only faults I find with this book are in its technical statistics of beer styles (gravity, ABV, color, IBU) as I found it overly simplified. For example when it comes to differentiating a Märzen and Vienna style lagers, they are completely identical when it comes to gravity, alcohol, attenuation, color, and bitterness. This only confuses me more if ever tasked with differentiation and explaining the two styles apart. While style guidelines are lengthy when it comes to writings such as the BJCP Guide Book, seen as the standard, this book just falls a bit short in truly evaluating beer as true to style with little to go off of.

Lastly American beer styles is the shortest and least detailed portion of the book. Seeing as Randy is from Chicago, I was wishing for a bit more. There are more typos as well, listing “Lost Coast/Pizza Port” as makers of American style wild ales. We all know it is Lost Abbey, not Lost Coast that is affiliated with Pizza Port. Another mistake is listing Lagunitas Brown Sugga (sic) in the double IPA category. Equally confusing is listing the same beer as an imperial brown ale (totally different style) on the same exact page. Perhaps it is American beer that I have the most familiarity with and can scrutinize more, but after finishing the book I couldn’t stop thinking about other missed contractions or errors when it comes to beer styles I know less of, like German lagers.

Overall, it is a good book, and the best when it comes to the tasting and evaluation portion of beers. There is a lot of historical information when it comes to the development of beer styles, but it did not really fit in with the theme of the book as a “beer experience guide”. Tasting Beer is an essential book to anyone looking to become a Cicerone, and highly recommend this book to anyone looking to appreciate and experience beer a little more.

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