“We had a guy come in with one of these beer books and a list of about 200 beers he wanted to drink. He left the list with me but there wasn’t a single one we could get in for him.” This was Ali, of Discount Supermarket, Wales’ largest stockist of bottled ales, talking to me a couple of months ago. It’s partly what inspired our take on Craft Beer: 365 Best Beers In The World.
There are some great catalogue-style beer books out there (the ‘500 beers’, ‘1000 beers’ type); in fact, they’re all brilliant and beautiful and something you can fall into for hours, drooling over fantastic beers from far-away places. So, when Chris Hall and I put together the line-up for the bookazine, we wanted to stand out not by finding the very rarest and coolest of beers, but by selecting a list that was as accessible as possible.
Chris called it a mix-tape, a selection of what’s currently available and worth drinking right now, which I feel sums it up nicely. What we have here is a primer for the uninitiated and a trophy cabinet for the experienced, something for everyone to feel satisfied with.
The bookazine contains 365 great beers, with detailed reviews on 100 or so of them and tasting notes on the rest. There’s also a beer and food matching guide, hints on the right serving temperature, interviews with brewers and style introductions. There are also thrills, beer spills and mad photography skills; the design looks lavish, the sort of wall-to-wall coverage of condensation-soaked craft beer bottles that makes me want to slip away to the bathroom and do shameful things. It might just fill a gift-shaped hole in someone’s oversized sock this Christmas, so if you’re looking for a beer related present for a friend or your local pub landlord, there’s always this, available from WH Smiths, supermarkets and online.
On a final note, my thanks go to Ales By Mail, Beer Ritz, Beers of Europe, Cardiff’s Discount Supermarket and The Cardiff Bottle Shop for helping me source some of the beers I consumed when writing up for the bookazine. Look them up, they’ll sort you out if you’re feeling thirsty.