A lot of books that attempt to offer a comprehensive guide to the world of beer are, in the end, pretty similar. There are usually 10-20 pages of throat-clearing, in which the author is obligated to assume the readers who have sat down to study a 400-page book about the intricacies of hundreds of global beer styles have no idea what beer is. Then, in some order, there are large chapters on historically beer-loving countries and their beers, and how to properly drink beer to best appreciate it. Toward the end are shorter chapters dealing with beer-related travel and pairing beer with food. This is the formula. Anyone who gets a book deal to write about beer is generally qualified to do so, so almost any of these one-stop guides is usually adequate.
In The Best Beer in the World: One Man’s Global Search for the Perfect Pint, British beer writer Mark Dredge sidesteps the cumbersome requirements of these books by giving his a unique (if audacious) conceit: He travels the world looking for the best beer to be found anywhere. That he never really answers his thesis question and never really intends to in the first place is (mostly) irrelevant. His quest allows him to write about most of the world’s beer styles and how and where to enjoy them, and with what food, without having to follow the established outline for doing so. It’s refreshing.