Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Book Review: The Brewmaster's Table

I am not a food snob; I am a foodie. I am not a beer snob; I am a beer connoisseur. Food and beer snobs will turn down food that doesn't meet their preconceived ideas of quality, which is often only what they read in an expensive magazine. A foodie will eat just about anything once, and the same is true of a beer connoisseur. However, we foodies and beer connoisseurs still truly appreciate quality food and drink. We just don't care if it made the cover of Food and Wine.

It is with this mindset that I review this book. The Brewmaster's Table by Garrett Oliver (the brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery), is an absolute must read for anyone who appreciates good food and beer. It provides a great history and explanation of all the world's major styles of beer, which to be honest, has been done before in many other books. But what makes this book unique, and why I use this book as a reference quite frequently, is that Garret Oliver provides recommendations for pairing food with each of the styles of beer he describes. He dives into the reasoning behind food and beer pairing so that we can understand why the beer goes so well with a particular food or style of food.

Any book that makes me want to go out and experiment with whatever the author is writing about is a success. This book has inspired me to experiment well over a dozen times already, and I think a lot more experimenting is in store.

One specific subject that this books addresses, and an area I have struggled with for some time, is what beverage to serve with Indian and other Asian meals. Wine is a poor fit, although I have had some success with champagne. I try to avoid soft drinks in all circumstances. Water works well, but is boring. Beer is what is left over, but as it turns out, stands out as a clear front runner. No drink, other than certain styles of beer, come anywhere close to matching the flavor profiles or offering a distinct but complimentary contrast of flavors to these foods. For these precious recommendations alone the book was worthwhile.

Fortunately, the book offers way more than just that. As it turns out, almost every food and style of cooking has an almost perfect pairing (or two or three) with a style of beer (or two or three). I am a wine drinker as well, and I really enjoy wine, but when it comes to matching food with drink, wine has nothing on beer. Sure, a classic American-Italian dinner has a great pairing in almost any table red wine. A juicy ribeye pairs great with a Syrah or Cab. But you can also drink beer with these meals as well. But what about everything else? What about a barbeque with hamburgers and hotdogs and spicy ribs? What about fish and chips. What about all the other foods people eat that just don't really work with wine? This book has the answer. Don't believe me? Read this book. Experiment for yourself, and you will see.

This book is yet another highly recommended read.


  1. what about tea, either iced or hot, with some of the corresponding cooking spices steeped in to go with your Indian or Asian meals? Add a prety garnish of lime or mandarin orange-even a cin. stick and you'll even have the Food and Wine cover-look:)

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