By Kristi Switzer, Director of Brewers Publications a Division of the Brewers Association
This is an exciting time to be a beer drinker! The vast array of brands and beer styles available today has created a multitude of compatible selections for every occasion and every palate. For those just getting to know craft beer, it can feel a bit overwhelming. But there are excellent tools to help guide you on a delicious exploration of the beers produced by the country’s small and independent breweries.
Whether growing your collection of recipes or researching the science behind the process, Brewers Publications has an extensive catalog of style, science, recipe and history books to grow your library. A division of the Brewers Association, BP seeks out the best authors in the craft beer community to share their passion with others and grow the body of knowledge available to consumers, hobbyists, probrewers and anyone interested in great beer.
How to Taste Beer
There are several resources that provide valuable information to supplement your sampling of locally produced craft beer. The Brewers Association has printed an informative guide to understanding American craft beer. Covering the brewing process, beer flavors, aromas, glassware and serving tips, the The Brewers Association Guide to American Craft Beer contains information on over 50 beer styles and answers frequently asked questions about craft beer.
Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher teaches readers how to identify the scents, colors, flavors, and textures of all the major beer styles.
For a more in-depth look at beer flavors, Evaluating Beer helps you develop your tasting and evaluation skills.
How to Pair Food and Beer
The plethora of exciting beer choices can lead to confusion on the best beers to pair with different foods. The American Craft Beer and Food Guide is the definitive publication on pairing American craft beer and food. A detailed reference chart displays the best beer styles to pair with everything from cheese to desserts, entrees to side dishes.
The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver is an excellent treatise on how to combine the right beer with the appropriate dish. It should be in the library of anyone who is serious about pairing beer and food.
No list would be complete without He Said Beer, She Said Wine by Sam Calagione and Marnie Old. The title says it all.
Cooking with Beer as an Ingredient
While beer can chicken is pretty good, thinking beyond standard beer fare can liven things up in the kitchen. The Best of American Beer and Food: Pairing & Cooking with Craft Beer by Lucy Saunders can help you do just that. Tested recipes from some of the country’s best chefs and craft brewers will inspire you to test new flavors in your home.
Stephen Beaumont’s Brewpub Cookbook covers interesting and innovative ways that brewpubs are incorporating beer into their food preparations. Beaumont’s book is easy to read and fun to share with friends.
How to Brew Beer
After tasting and cooking with beer, you may be inspired to take it to the next level and brew beer at home. There is a wealth of resources to assist you. Zymurgy: An Introduction to Homebrewing provides a great overview of the basics of homebrewing and is available free of charge at many homebrew shops.
Joining the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) gives you access to numerous tools and other benefits such as the Pub Discount Program. Zymurgy magazine, a resource for all things relating to homebrewing, is another benefit of AHA membership. Information on a wide range of topics for brewers of all levels is available in each issue.
The best-selling book How to Brew by John Palmer, walks you through the brewing process and includes a wealth of tips, tricks and insights. This makes a great gift for an aspiring brewer or a friend in need of a little homebrewing help. Both novice and longtime brewers will find themselves reaching for their copy on brew day.
Kristi Switzer has spent over 14 years in the craft beer community, first at Alaskan Brewing Company as Director of Marketing Communications and most recently as Publisher for the Brewers Association’s Brewers Publications. She is an advocate for both pairing craft beer with food and using it as an ingredient in cooking.