Bernstein, Joshua M. The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks; From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes. Sterling Epicure. Sept. 2013. 320p. photos. index. ISBN 9781402797675. $24.95. BEVERAGES
Structured as a 12-part course spanning the world of beers, this tome is terrifically comprehensive. Brooklyn-based beer expert and journalist Bernstein (Brewed Awakening: Behind the Beers and Brewers Leading the World’s Craft Brewing Revolution) shares his immense appreciation for a remarkable variety of beers. The result is appealingly chatty writing that, while definitely reading as a progression through what the author calls a “boot camp,” is also encyclopedic in nature. Readers may be familiar with common styles such as ales and lagers but are likely to emerge keen to seek out less well-known tipples such as milk stout or Gose (a salty, German style). The chapters are balanced between a focus on more typical representations of styles and niche varieties, and Bernstein suggests many favorites for the reader to taste while reading. Spotlights on particular breweries and beers and lavish illustrations make this book as enjoyable to flip through randomly as to read from start to finish. VERDICT A wide-ranging volume that is sure to appeal to beer enthusiasts and casual consumers alike. Highly recommended for public libraries and collections with a focus on food and beverages.
Donovan, Tristan. Fizz: How Soda Shook Up the World. Chicago Review. Nov. 2013. 288p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781613747223. pap. $17.95. BEVERAGES
Covering topics from Coca Cola–drinking Santa Clauses to the Pepsi Generation, Donovan (Replay: The History of Video Games) offers a well-researched book on the history of soda. Supported by an exhaustive bibliography, this title details the “soda wars” between the major industry giants. The book opens with the story of the race into space as Pepsi and Coca-Cola vied to get their products on board the Space Shuttle in the 1980s. Traveling back in time, Donovan explores Joseph Priestley’s 18th-century discovery of carbonated water and the colorful cast of characters clashing in the battle to open the first soda fountain. The battle for fast-food markets between the key players, major ad campaigns, and the ups and downs of big and small ventures in the United States and worldwide are all chronicled. VERDICT Donovan succeeds in his attempt to create an extremely comprehensive work on the subject like none have before. Recommended for those who enjoy industry histories and a must-have for libraries.
Veseth, Mike. Extreme Wine: Searching the World for the Best, the Worst, the Outrageously Cheap, the Insanely Overpriced, and the Undiscovered. Rowman & Littlefield. Oct. 2013. 224p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781442219229. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781442219243. BEVERAGES
Veseth (Wine Wars), who blogs at the Wine Economist, takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the world’s wines in the titular superlatives. Readers may be familiar with French wines, but get ready to explore Canada’s Icewine (made from grapes frozen to 17 degrees Fahrenheit). These highly concentrated wines (popular in Asia) sell for prices ranging from $50 to $500. Veseth discusses how Prohibition (1920–33) impacted the wine industry (most wineries went out of business) as well as loopholes in the Volstead Act that allowed four million gallons of wine to be legally produced in 1925. The most expensive wine should be no surprise to readers: Bordeaux 2009. What’s the worst wine? Veseth writes, “That’s easy: look down!” Wines can be judged by their prices, with the cheaper wines located at the bottom of the wine shelves. Veseth asserts that celebrity wines such as those made by Yao Ming, Martha Stewart, and Paul Newman don’t necessarily harm the “real wine” industry and, in fact, encourage wine drinkers to try new varieties. VERDICT History buffs and adventurous wine drinkers are sure to find interesting tidbits about the industry and encounter new wines to hunt down. Highly recommended.