It’s the best time in history to be a beer drinker. It’s also the most confusing time. Stroll into any craft-beer bar or beer distributor, and you’re forced to sift through a dizzying array of dozens, if not hundreds, of singular brews. A marketplace of overwhelming choice can lead to paralysis and settling for the same old, same old. Repetition can be comforting, which is why I always purchase the same pair of jeans at the department store.
Do not make the same mistake with craft beer, where curiosity rewards the intrepid imbiber. That’s the philosophy behind my newest book, The Complete Beer Course, in which I demystify beer, elementally breaking down the grains, yeast, hops, and techniques that cause beer’s flavor to spin into thousands of distinctively delicious directions.
After outfitting you with the tools to taste, smell, and evaluate brews, the book will lead you on a flavorful trek through the most critical styles of beer. Structured around a series of easy-to-follow classes, you’ll hop from lagers and pilsners to hazy wheat beers, Belgian-style abbey and Trappist ales, aromatic pale ales and bitter IPAs, roasty stouts, barrel-aged brews, belly-warming barley wines, and mouth-puckering sour ales. Through a sequence of suggested, targeted tastings, you’ll learn which flavors are appropriate, and which ones signify that you should dump those beers down a drain. Simply put, you’ll be able to walk into nearly every bottle store or bar in the world and, with confidence, order just about any beer in the coolers or on tap.
Praise for The Complete Beer Course
“Josh Bernstein has written a book that will take the reader from ‘beer novice’ to ‘intrepid and informed explorer’ in no time flat. If you’ve ever looked at the vast array of beers out there and asked yourself, ‘What is all this stuff, where does it come from, and what does it taste like?,’ then The Complete Beer Course is the book that will throw open the doors and introduce you to a bigger, tastier world.”—Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and editor-in-chief of The Oxford Companion to Beer
“Here’s a book you’ll want to have a beer with. No, here’s a book you’ll want to have many beers with. Joshua Bernstein has done something nearly impossible. He has written a book that is equally valuable and interesting to experienced brewers as it is to the neophyte beer drinker who is eager to learn. The Complete Beer Course belongs in the library of every beer lover, home brewer, and professional brewer. Cheers to Joshua!”—Jim Koch, founder and brewmaster, the Boston Beer Company—brewer of Samuel Adams
“All beer is good. Figuring out which ones you want to spend the most time with just got easier with Joshua Bernstein’s romp through beer history, styles, and thirst-provoking stories.”—Charlie Papazian, author of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing
“When I decided to write about beer professionally 25 years ago, there was no book like The Complete Beer Course. Luckily, Joshua Bernstein has identified this gap in beery knowledge and sought to fill it, to the benefit of future beer aficionados everywhere. Whether your goal is to become a beer writer or just more thoroughly enjoy your ales and lagers, The Complete Beer Course will set you on the right track!”—Stephen Beaumont, coauthor of The World Atlas of Beer and The Pocket Beer Guide (both with Tim Webb)
“Boot camp for beer drinkers? Yes. Minus the early morning hours and whistle-blowing drill sergeant.) Bernstein’s lively prose and command of the terrain will transform the greenest novice into a savvy beer connoisseur.”—Maureen Ogle, author of Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer
My book on the resurgence of craft beer in America and around the globe, Brewed Awakening: Behind the Beers and Brewers Leading the World’s Craft Brewing Revolution, is out now from Sterling Epicure. Order a copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or IndieBound! Got an iPad? Get the book from iTunes! (And you can follow Brewed Awakening on Facebook.) P.S. Contact me at josh.bernstein[at]gmail.com if you would like bulk-shipping info or want to purchase signed copies.
Why Brewed Awakening? Concerning beer, the last decade has witnessed more seismic changes than any time since Prohibition. There are more than 2,500 craft breweries in America, from community-based nanobreweries to the new breed of national brands such as Dogfish Head and Stone. Untethered from stodgy tradition, and driven by unbridled creativity, American and international brewers are leading a boundary-less charge into the global future of beer.
The bitter India pale ale has birthed the burly, super-aromatic double IPA. Alcohol percentages have climbed above ten percent, on par with wine—and now join Pinot noir at dinner tables and on tony restaurants’ drink lists. Wild yeasts have been harnessed and are used to inoculate beers that, in the best way possible, taste like a barnyard. Naturally carbonated cask ales have now achieved cult status. And brewmasters have begun aging their creations in wooden casks that once contained bourbon, brandy, chardonnay, and even tequila, reviving techniques last seen more than a century earlier.
I’ve spent the last six years covering the craft beer industry, traveling from Asheville to Austin, San Francisco to Chicago, Portland to Portland. I’ve hit breweries. Interviewed brewers. And spelunked deep into the people and the trends driving the craft beer revolution. There’s a story in every pint glass. I give voice to them.
Praise for Brewed Awakening
“Joshua M. Bernstein’s Brewed Awakening shines a spotlight on the variety, ingenuity, and innovation that is alive and well in the beer community. Over the past decade, the collective renaissance of beer and brewing has proven that this is the best time in history to be a beer drinker. Brewed Awakening is a great look behind the curtain of the beers that are making this revolution so great.”—Ken Grossman, founder, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
“Brewed Awakening does an excellent job of immersing the reader right into the heart of what craft beer is all about. Hardcore beer geeks and newcomers to the craft beer revolution alike will find a wealth of fascinating, and fascinatingly cool, information on every page.”—Greg Koch, CEO and cofounder, Stone Brewing Co.
“Brewed Awakening has something for every beer lover, but I think it is most ideal for upping the beer IQ of those just entering our ranks. It demystifies the brewing process and the international craft brewing movement.”— Sam Calagione, president and founder, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Want more? Watch the behind-the-scenes video!