Monday, December 10, 2012

Beer Book Gift Ideas

For you last-minute holiday shoppers, here are a few books you might consider for the beer lover on your list.  Or for yourself.

Hop in the Saddle
  • Audience: Portland beer fans who want to bike more, or Portland bicyclists with a new interest in beer.
My friend Lucy Burningham has co-authored a book of five Portland bike pub crawls, called Hop in the Saddle: A Guide to Portland's Craft Beer Scene, by Bike. Let's just call it Hop in the Saddle for short.  Beer and bicycling are two subjects near and dear to my heart -- I like mapping out bike pub crawls myself -- so I was excited to hear about Lucy's project.  This is a nice collection of easy bike routes in Portland neighborhoods, annotated with beer destinations, with longer optional bike rides for more advanced riders.

If you're a Portland beer geek who already goes everywhere by bike, none of the routes or destinations will be news to you, and if you think you don't need this book, you're probably right.  But if your bike has been gathering dust and a pub crawl could entice you out for a ride, this book will get you started.  On the other hand, if you are a regular rider but haven't yet become a beer obsessive, Hop in the Saddle hits the high points of what each neighborhood has to offer. Click these links to buy it online from Powell's or from Amazon.

Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest
  • Audience: Visitors to the Northwest, or locals planning to travel to other parts of the region. 
I reviewed Lisa Morrison's Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest almost two years ago when it came out, but the similarities with Hop in the Saddle are so great that I feel like I have to mention it in the same article (the two books would make a great gift set).  On a small world level, I remember locking my bicycle next to Lucy's bike at the press briefing Lisa held when CBPN was published.

Similarly to Hop in the Saddle, you probably wouldn't buy this book in order to learn more about your own neighborhood.  But what you would find useful are the walkable pub crawls it maps out in other Northwest cities, and the information about other local scenes you might be planning on visiting.  Click these links to buy it online from Powell's or from Amazon.

Brewed Awakening
  • Audience: Anyone with a new interest in good beer, who wants a good overview of breweries and beer styles.
Lest anyone think I only review books written by women who are friends of mine, here's a book by a male stranger that the publisher sent me a copy of about a year ago: Brewed Awakening: Behind the Beers and Brewers Leading the World's Craft Brewing Revolution.

As the word "awakening" suggests, the book is something of a primer on beer styles and well-regarded breweries. Brewed Awakening addresses various beery topics in a breezy, lighthearted style.  But by far the best feature of the book are its dozens of single-page sections called "Four to Try" (or some other number), offering lists of representative beers from around the country.  A few of those sections call out a specific style like Saisons or Pre-prohibition Lagers, but most focus more on some other aspect of the beer -- for example, there are sections on barrel-aged beers, session beers, organic beers, and ancient recipes.

If you're already the kind of beer geek who reads a dozen blogs and trades bottles back and forth across the country, this book will not cover much new ground for you.  However, if you or someone you know is just getting started with good beer, Brewed Awakening is a readable, entertaining overview. Click these links to buy it online from Powell's or from Amazon.

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