The Little Book of Craft Beer by Melissa Cole – Review
By Karl Hornsey
Melissa Cole has become one of the country’s leading authorities on the new wave of craft beer enthusiasm that has developed in recent years, and her latest book provides insight into more than 100 of the finest examples out there.
The brewing world these days is as far removed as it could be from the old traditions and tired offerings that used to dominate. The industry is now vibrant, and dominated by young talent and new ideas, which has led to the taste of beer being more diverse than ever before.
Micro breweries and micro pubs are all the rage, popping up in huge numbers across the country, and indeed I used to think I knew a lot about beer until Chequers, Yorkshire’s first micro pub, opened around the corner from me in Beverley, and I realised I actually knew next to nothing.
“Appeal to everyone”
That fine establishment has gone from strength to strength, and the clientele there offers a snapshot of those that Cole is appealing to with this book. Some old, some young, some learned, some novices. All hooked on the taste.
There are plenty of basic facts for the beginner or occasional craft beer fan, and lots for the hardcore devotees and brewers to take from this book too, leaving it sitting perfectly in a window that means it will appeal, on some level, to pretty much anyone.
It’s nice to see some of my favourite beers appearing in the book, alongside others from around the world that I doubt I will ever get my hands on, and Cole increases the appeal by throwing in a variety of simple recipes specifically designed to accompany certain types of beer, including beer-brined chicken, and duck with Flanders cherry sauce that I really must get around to making.
Followers of Cole on social media, including almost 30,000 of them on Twitter, will be used to her style of writing and a tone that means any subject is easily accessible to the man on the street, while still imparting oodles of enthusiasm to a subject that is, after all, taken very, very seriously by some.
This style is in evidence in The Little Book of Craft Beer, marking it down as the ideal stocking filler this Christmas, or as a Coffee Table book, as odd an expression as that may sound in this case.
And as for the thorny subject of what craft beer actually is, well, it’s refreshing to read that even someone as learned on the subject as Cole, doesn’t really know what it is. Craft beer is pretty much in the eye of the individual, and there are plenty of examples in this book that need to be sampled. Quickly.
‘The Little Book of Craft Beer’ by Melissa Cole is published by Hardie Grant, £10 hardback