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Craft Beer World

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by Mark Dredge

Beer bloggers. Their contribution to the buzz that surrounds beer can't be underestimated.

Craft Beer WorldA few, it is true, don't appear to know their arse from their elbow but many of them have done the world of beer a great service, not just through their own work but also by kicking the arse of established beer writers into putting more elbow grease into theirs.

Mark Dredge's blogging, for example, is one of the best incentives for those of us who have been writing about beer for a long time to pull our finger out.

Already lauded by the British Guild of Beer Writers for his online contributions (many penned at – for most of us – an unearthly hour before heading off to fulfil the commitments of his day job), he has now, justly, been rewarded with his first book commission.

Were the publishers taking a risk with this unproven 'amateur'? After all, it's often been noted that many people can fill a page but not so many can fill a book.

Well, if they ever felt it was a risk, I'm sure they were quickly disabused of that notion as the book rapidly came together. The result is a highly impressive piece of work that looks set to bring the author even more acclaim.

Mark Dredge, to borrow a time-worn phrase, is an old head on young shoulders. He has amassed a wealth of beer information over a very short period of time – testimony to his fascination with, and passion for, the subject.

In Craft Beer World, he brings a brightness and freshness to the subject that is echoed in the busy, contemporary styling of the book. His tone is reverence combined with infectious enthusiasm.

He is adventurous enough to unearth beers that are off most people's radar and yet wise enough to never dismiss the old classics that the majority of beer connoisseurs have been enjoying for years.

The book is handsomely produced, each page bristling with text so that, even though it has a coffee-table feel (albeit with a matt finish rather than glossy), you instantly know that the words here are going to be more important than the many, admittedly thirst-inspiring, pictures.

The book begins by adequately covering all the usual stuff about how beer is brewed, how to serve it, beer and food pairing, etc., but it's not this preamble that sets this book apart – although there is also a clever new take on the beer flavour wheel.

The real value comes when we join Dredge as he opens, pours, sniffs and savours the 350 or so beers he has very clearly enjoyed far too much.

Best Bartender

He writes flowingly, his descriptive language hits the mark and there's a zip about his prose that leads you on from beer to beer, just like the best bartender in the world suggesting what you should try next.

The first beers profiled are pilsners and the world of craft beer then opens up via chapters for all the major beer styles plus other beers that reflect the out-of-the-box mentality of the most passionate of brewers who don't even have rulebooks to throw out of windows.

Read about 'Imperial Lager', 'Belgian IPA', and 'German Curiosities', before winding up with 'Extreme Beer' and 'Blockbuster Beers'.

There are beers in this book that will take a lot of finding but – as I always say – there's no point in having a book that tells you what you already know.

You may have to travel the world to get hold of some of them although, such are the riches to be discovered in the ever-increasing number of specialist beer bars and dedicated off-licences, you may, to great surprise, unearth them just around the corner.

I have one frustration with the book: the index only covers beer styles and countries. What's really needed are entries for breweries, too, and beer names.

But Craft Beer World is a book that deserves to do well for all the reasons outlined above and, not least, to compensate the author for all those early morning starts.


1st edition

208-page hardback (Dog 'n' Bone Books)

£16.99/$24.95

Available now from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com

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