This review was first published on Fourth & Sycamore.
Randy Mosher might be the best beer writer alive today, having inherited the mantle from the late, great Michael Jackson when that esteemed writer died in 2007. A longtime homebrewer who has written some of the best books available on the art of homebrewing, Mosher is also a faculty member at the Siebel Institute in Chicago, the oldest brewing institute in the country, and a member of several national brewing organizations. His book Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink is the definitive contemporary tome on beer appreciation. A new book from Mosher is an exciting event for the beer aficionado, and the brand new Beer for All Seasons: A Through-the-Year Guide to What to Drink and When to Drink It (641.23 Mosher) doesn’t disappoint.
Beer for All Seasons begins with a stripped down synoptic version of the content of Tasting Beer, walking through the history of brewing, profiling major styles, and (re)familiarizing readers with the vocabulary and process of beer appreciation, before moving into the main body of the book, a textual calendar of how best to appreciate this wonderful drink in every season of the year. The book is broken into seasons, and each chapter talks about the types of beers common to that time of year and the traditions those styles grew out of, and then provides a series of suggestions for how to appreciate those styles in season. Information on beer festivals and events, seasonal food pairings, instructions for how to achieve the perfect pour, and even recipes for seasonal beer cocktails and fill the pages with plenty of great ideas for a spirited year (and life) of beer drinking. Fun asides include segments like “Nothing Says ‘I Love You, Dad,’ Like Beer: A Father’s Day Mixed Six”, a page devoted to choosing six beers to introduce your novice father to your favorite hobby (page 112).
“Every ancient pagan ritual and its Christian derivative should be an excuse for a dedicated beer style”. – page 72
It’s obvious from Mosher’s resumé that he knows just about as much as a person can know about beer, but what sets him apart from other experts is that he’s an excellent writer. He’s fun to read, lucid and witty, which matters quite a bit when he’s running through a rapid fire account of several millenia of brewing history, or breaking down the flavor profiles of several dozen beer styles. He presents his wealth of knowledge without confusing, intimidating, or boring his readers. His background in graphic design also allows him to present his information in a visually enjoyable and easily understandable format. He uses charts, photography, and other graphics to break up his text and make the information fun and digestible. Taken individually, the subsections of this book almost work like especially well-formatted blog posts.
“As the gales swirl and the snow builds up, there is nothing so comforting as a snifter of really strong ale to sip by the fireplace. There are plenty of choices here, but the deepest, darkest days of winter call out for the king of all strong beers: barleywine.” – page 155
Whether you’re a seasoned beer connoisseur with dreams of getting your Cicerone certification or a newcomer to the world of craft beer and still learning your way around, Beer for All Seasons will prove an entertaining and educational read. Consider trying out some of the tasting or event ideas suggested in the book with likeminded friends, and be sure to let us know if you do!