Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Books on Beer

A Christmas beer book shopping list

  • “The Beer Book,” edited by Tim Hampson (DK Publishing, $25, 352 pp.). This is a sound-bite journey, nation by nation, through the world of great beer, from Louisiana’s Abita Purple Haze to New Zealand’s Twisted Hop Challenger. It’s a fun read.
  • “Around London in 80 Beers” by Chris Pollard and Siobhan McGinn (Cogan & Mater, $19.99, including shipping, from Even if you never hoist a pint of real ale in a London pub, “Around London” is a terrific read. Pollard and McGinn, who have written books about Belgian beers, returned to their native city to compile this fascinating tour. If the UK’s on your travel list, there’s an Underground map showing the location of each pub.
  • “Wishing You A Merry Christmas Beer” by Don Russell (Universe Publishing, $19.95). Russell, who writes the Joe Sixpack column for the Philadelphia Daily News, compiled this survey, subtitled “The Cheeriest, Tastiest, and Most Unusual Holiday Brews.” I love Russell’s no-nonsense, Philly edge: “Yes, Virginia,” he says. “There is a Santa’s Butt — it’s a porter from South Stoke, England.” Find the Butt on page 45.
  • “Red, White and Brew: A Beer Odyssey Across the U.S.,” by Brian Yaeger (St. Martin’s Griffin, $14.95). If you’re new to the American craft beer revolution or are just curious about the beers and the people behind them, this is the book to read. Yaeger set out on his own to visit the country’s famous and not-so famous breweries. His master’s thesis, for his professional writing degree from the University of Southern California, was on beer.

Last note: I haven’t seen it yet, but the Brewers’ Association, the Boulder, Colo., craft beer trade group (, has just issued a new edition of the late British beer writer Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking “Great Beers of Belgium.”

Books: An End-of-Summer Reading List

Close out the summer with a good read about our favorite subject

Around London in 80 Beers, Chris Pollard, Siobhan McGinn, Cogan & Mater, Cambridge, $19.99, paper
Red White & Brew: A Beer Odyssey Across the U.S., Brian Yaeger, St. Martin’s Press, New York, $14.95, paper.
The Imbible, The Bash Back to School Booze Book, Alex Bash, St Martin’s Griffin, New York, $13.95, cloth.
The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Cookbook, More Than 400 Recipes, John Schlimm, Cumberland House, Nashville, $24.95, cloth.

I gotta’ admit, I’m a certified Anglophile, even though, as far as I can tell, I have absolutely no connection to England, by blood or kin. I guess its the beer.  At any rate, things English charm the pants off me. I’ve just finished a great little book: Around London in 80 Beers, by Chris Pollard  and Siobhan McGinn, Cogan & Mater Ltd., Cambridge, UK.

I’m charmed.  If you like English pubs, even if you’re only an armchair traveler, buy this book.

Pollard who goes by the nickname “Podge”, and Siobhan are the authors of Around Bruge in 80 Beers, a definitive beer tour of Belgian’s most dazzling Medieval city. Podge, who also conducts Belgian beer tours when he isn’t writing and researching, is the co-author with Tim Webb and Joris Pattyn of Lambicland/Lambikland, a guide book to Belgian Lambic beer. Podge also contributes to Tim Webb’s Good Beer Guide to Belgium.

This slim, 80 page book’s a fun and informative read. The authors are English, of course,  and they include Underground stops, which for those of us who have been way lost in London’s a nice touch.

They proceed through London  Albannach, 66 Trafalgar Square, to the White Horse, 1-3 Parson’s  Green and Zeitgeist @ The Jolly Gardeners.  There’s a bit of a history and description of the decor, kinds of beers and cuisine, if any, followed by   a bit about the best beer to order. It’s a wild selection, cask and bottles and imports. They even list Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, as served at Green Man, Oxford Circus and Goodge Street.

At  Albannach, the beer is Innis & Gunn Cask-Aged Ale from  Bellhaven in Dunbar, Scotland. At the White Horse, which is probably the  English pub best-known  to those of us in the U.S., it’s Worthington White Shield, the often-doomed, often-saved, apparently now doomed again, sent-straight-from-heaven, bottle conditioned 5.6 percent pale ale.

It was last made by Coors – this is not a lie, Coors bought the Bass brand and the Bass Brewery Museum at Burton-On-Trent, Staffordshire.

They’ve closed the museum,  naturally. But there’s a movement to save it; they’ve  even enlisted their local Member of Parliament to the cause.

Zeitgest is London’s first German “gastro-pub.”    But Charley Chaplin’s father played the piano here regularly a few eons ago and Guy Ritchie filmed part of Snatch at the pub in 2000.

The beer? Weihenstephan Hefeweisse Dunkel.  Great choice.
80 Beers Around London  hasn’t been imported to the U.S. yet. The place to get it is online at It costs $19.99 because the dollar is in such lousy shape. Gee thanks GW.

Moving on...Red White & Brew is a quest by author Brian Yaeger, of San Francisco, to capture the essence of the craft beer/good beer/not Budweiser movement. It takes him on a literal odyssey across the United States for an in-depth look at the roots of the craft beer movement.’

Brian’s not a free-lance writer looking for a gig, he’s a guy interested in the roots of good beer. You’ll find no tales of immigrant Germans making their way to riches in 19th Century America on a sea of pale lager. Brian, once he caught on to the fact that beer can taste great, never looked back.

He started with an in-depth conversation at D.G. Yuengling & Son in Pottsville, PA,  the nation’s oldest brewery, moved on to D. L Geary in Portland, ME. then to Bell’s in Kalamazoo, MI.

Over the course of a year, Brian makes the rounds, hitting some interesting, not usually visited breweries like Free State in Lawrence, KS., Grand Teton in Victor, ID. and Spoetzl in  Shiner, TX.

Great read, especially if you’re new to craft beer and wonder about the whole concept.

  • The Imbible, The Bash Back to School Booze Book, Alex Bash. Is there really an Alex Bash? His publicist says so, says he’s co-director of marketing for Skyline Properties in Bellevue, WA,  But he doesn’t show up on their company directory and I can’t find that name in a detailed Web search. Too bad, I’d like to shake his hand.

Anyone who can devote five and a half printed pages to Beer Pong deserves recognition.  And, if you really don’t understand Beer Pong, Mr. Bash’s tome is the one to consult. Also, Drunken Pirates, Beer Roulette and Words of the Night – written in an easy-to-follow, chatty, way that even a drunken college sophomore (target audience) can follow.  Urrp.

  • The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Cookbook, More Than 400 Recipes, John Schlimm… I’ve got little to say about this  one. Just this: How in the hell can you go to the trouble of typing out 400 recipes involving beer and NEVER NAME A SINGLE BEER. Nothing about styles, flavors,  strength or hops. Just beer and light beer.

Sausage Bites? Add one cup “beer.” Pancake syrup?  1/2 cup light beer. White Perch? 2 ounces beer.  Oh yes, there are mixed drink recipes too: Boilermaker: 10 oz. beer; Woodpacker? 12 oz. beer.

Mr. Schlimm’s a member of the Straub Brewery family. They make beer there: Straub, Straub Light and  Straub Dark.  It’s in St. Mary’s, PA in western Pennsylvania and has been in business since 1872.

The brewery itself gets an A for honesty. The beers are made with spring water, malted barley and corn flakes, the brewery says on its Web site. Straub is 4.33 percent ABV and Straub Light 3.16 percent.

The cookbook? Admirable effort but…