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99 Bottles

Two good craft beer books

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This summer, some publisher or PR company sent me a book detailing the knick-knacks one can make from beer cans, bottle tops, and the shells of 30-packs of Bud Light. The book is still on my desk, if anyone has an interest.

Two beer books worth your while crossed my desk recently. The first is "The Complete Beer Course" by Joshua M. Bernstein. It's something I wish I'd written myself. It's Beer for Dummies, only it's written for reasonable, curious people who want to learn more about craft beer but may not know where to start.

The book's subtitle is "Boot Camp For Beer Geeks: From novice to expert in twelve tasting classes." It covers basics like ingredients and glassware, then delves into styles in an approachable way. If you're wondering what the heck the difference is between a Maibock and an Altbier, Bernstein explains the origins of each, then provides examples of some particularly good ones. Armed with this knowledge, an eager craft beer drinker could go to a well-stocked store and work their way through a world of beer. The writing is approachable and interesting. 320 pages, $24.95.

"The American Craft Beer Cookbook" by John Holl provides 155 recipes incorporating beer, as well as beer pairings for each. Beer food is more than bar food, and Holl takes you through a range of recipes ranging from Slow-Cooked DoppleBock BBQ Meatballs to Duck Chiles Rellenos. Weaved within are profiles of notable brewers and stories about the beers described within. Throughout, the culinary status of beer is rightly elevated.

"People just kind of gravitate toward wine because that's what they're accustomed to do," Holl says of pairing beer with food. "The beer industry is growing up fast, but it hasn't done a good job as selling itself as an accompanmient to food."

Through his book, Holl is taking a very big step toward changing that. 352 pages, $19.95.

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