Book review: 'Beer: Taste the Evolution in 50 Styles', by Natalya Watson

Robyn Black

Robyn Black

30 March 2020

If the title of this book doesn’t scream ‘digestible and moreish introduction to all things beer’ (and it does not) then thankfully what’s on the inside delivers just that.

To be fair, the funky design of the front cover does somewhat indicate that this is aimed more at those with a new interest in beer than it is to established hop devotees, which perhaps the title does (thus proving that, on occasion, we really should judge books by their covers). And beer beginners will be well rewarded for picking up this book, which manages to break down beer’s component parts – history, key ingredients and the brewing process, into chunks that are not just logical but accessible.

This proved to be somewhat of a relief, as I was initially alarmed to learn from the blurb that Watson trained as a microbiologist imagining turgid chapters on rhanella aquatilis and zymophilus but thankfully it was not to be. The text manages to be both clear and informal and there’s an admirable resistance to getting bogged down in the finer points of brewing. This helps give the book pace – ‘I’ve attempted to keep each section short and sippable,’ she writes.

My favourite element is the recommended beers that come in each chapter, particularly as the writer has taken the trouble to ensure her recommendations are widely available from supermarkets and bottle shops, rather than the assuming that anyone willing to read a book on beer will also be willing to travel 250 miles to source an esoteric brew from a niche brewery.

The cover suggests this book is a simple, unfussy introduction to beer and if you judge it by that you’d not go far wrong.

£15.99, Kyle Books

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