My latest raid on Amazon included the newly published beer book, 500 Beers by Zak Avery the latest in the current vogue of beer collections - at least with this volume you are not expected to die trying to taste all 500.
It is clear from the tasting notes that Zak has tasted all 500 of these beers and for that alone he must be acclaimed - a great effort even if he did share them with his Beer-Ritz colleagues.
The book is an unusual format, more short and stubby, but quite fat at 288 pages. Not sure I even understand that but perhaps you get my drift if I say it is a size more appropriate for the smallest room rather than the coffee table.
The bulk of the book is taken up with the beer - as you might expect - 500 beers - not the best or rarest or strongest though all of those are included. It is a users guide to the world of beer. The beers are split into styles starting with different styles of lager and drinking through the whole range of English, German, American and Belgian styles ending with American esoterica and very strong beer.
Each beer is described in about 50 words and if you think there are only so many ways you can describe hop or malt character (I prefer "hoppy" and "malty") then Zak has nailed it with his tasting and retailing experience, his mature palate and his vast lexicon of beer. It is another of those books that makes you want a beer just by reading about it. Each entry either brings back a memory of a previous tasting or increases the desire to hunt down certain beers.
The book is lavishly illustrated with many full colour pictures of the beer world and has a good quality look and feel to it - perhaps it is too good for the smallest room and should be promoted to your smallest coffee table.
Cover price is £9.99 but it is well worth the £6.01 I paid through Amazon.
If there is one criticism of the book it is that there are too many photographs of German beers and gratuitous use of buxom Bavarian beer babes. (Did I really write that ?)
Finally am I the only person who delights in finding mistakes in this sort of book ? With so many beers to catalogue slight errors are bound to creep in. In Roger Protz's 300 Beers it offended our Welsh friends that Brains Dark was described in the index as from England. I assume that Zak has already spotted his deliberate mistake where Dark Star Saison is shown with a Belgian flag - a good pass at a Belgian beer style but, of course, brewed in Sussex.
You can find Zak's blog here.