Bluffer’s Guide to Beer, Why Can’t You Know it All?
With the fall weather well on it’s way, many around the world are welcoming in all the fall beers, delicious seasonal micro brews and in Germany, the world’s oldest and largest beer festival, Oktoberfest, is in full swing. Whether you are considering grabbing a pint to drink with your buddies, or out on the road traveling around the world, a solid knowledge of beer is almost a must. Beer brings us all together, it ignites friendships, starts conversations and makes memories.
After traveling through 65 countries on six continents, few things remain the same from place to place. People change from city to city, the cuisine, culture, language and overall approach to life morph from one destination to the next. India is easily the most foreign feeling place I have ever stepped foot in, with barely anything “normal” to cling on to. However, one thing still remains the same, India has a national beer, and so does almost every other country on the planet. Sure smiles, body language and good intentions help you relate to a new country, but most would be lying if they said one of the first things on their mind after arriving in a new country wasn’t looking for a refreshing glass of the national beer. Who doesn’t want to try a pint of Singha in Thailand, Guinness in Ireland or Brahma in Brazil?
And yet after all the travel, all the pints drank and all the memories made across the globe, I still know shockingly little about the world’s most popular beverage. As we are in the final planning stages of our upcoming months long journey across Europe, I thought it was high time to change that. I have a hard enough time blending in as an energetic and talkative American as it is, no need to add “uninformed Bud light drinking snob” to that list as well.
In the Bluffer’s Guide to Beer, author Jonathan Goodall takes you to the University of Beer and spits you out the other side with a masters in malt, an honors in hops, a Bachelors in beer. School is in session.
The year is 9000 BC, and somewhere in the Middle East, people are starting to brew beer, almost as soon as the human race is even able to comprehend the world around them. By 740 AD, the Germans have caught on and started their near world dominance in the production of beer. And then, in 1759 Arthur Guinness buys a rundown brewery in Dublin, and the rest if history. The history of beer is fascinating, and laid out in easily digestible bullet points as you go. Ever the nostalgic, I can often be found recalling the days before the internet, cell phones and Coke Zero, but thank God no man has ever had to think back to a time without beer. Ever.
To the layman, beer is just another drink that has always been around. And to that unfortunate soul, the conversation stops there. I’ll admit, I’ve been that guy before. America drinks Budweiser and Bud Light, which is the second most consumed beer on the planet, until recently leaving little room for anything else. It wasn’t until I was in college that I was even made aware there wasn’t a rule commanding all beer be a nearly tasteless, watered down mixture of disappointment and regret.
‘You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.’ Frank Zappa
The Bluffer’s Guide to Beer does a great job of educating you on the methods of making beer but where it really shines is in its vast and in depth dissection of each kind of beer, be it pale ale, lager, porter, etc. From Fosters in Australia (which was started by Americans, who knew?) to the Trapest Monks in Europe brewing one hell of a strong beer, to the sweeter beers of Asia, the Bluffer’s Guide to Beer takes you around the globe and back again, examining each variant of the world’s favorite drink, nearly insuring you will never find yourself the most clueless on the subject again, even around a group of beer snobs with their big words like “brettanomyces” and “zymurgy“. Relax, there is an in depth glossary at the end of the book you can keep in your back pocket and reference in a real panic if need be.
Have you always hated IPA’s, never shy from proclaiming so in social settings but secretly have no ideas what an IPA is or what it even stands for? Do you love a good porter as much as a good stout, but don’t know the first thing about either? And how about all those times you go to your fancy neighborhood liquor store and, after 20 minutes staring at the endless 6 packs of microbrews, wind up buying one just because you like the colorful label or clever name? Well, here’s your chance change all of that.
Interested in Thai beers? Click to read Thai beer, what you need to know.
I may still not understand how cell phones work (seriously though, I can call the other side of the world and there are NO wires?!), not totally understand how the stock market operates, or what the lights on my dashboard really mean, but at least I can walk into a pub in Europe this winter and proudly order a beer, feeling confident to answer any follow up question the bartender might throw my direction. Unless its about wine, then I’m screwed.
Jeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to forget them all.
A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh.
Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at email@example.com and they’ll respond super fast!