Michael Jackson changed my life: not the pop performer, but a rumpled English writer (and, I learned later, an ancestral countryman. His father had emigrated to Yorkshire from Lithuania, as had my grandparents to New York).
By 1988, I was an enjoyer of better beers, and a homebrewer, but it was Jackson's book of that year, The New World Guide To Beer, that propelled me toward a vocation of beer. I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to thank him in person. Jackson died in 2007.
I recently posted a series of reviews of 12 'beer' books. It was not a best of 2009; it was a list of personal recommendations for good gifts and good reads on Christmas Day. Some of the twelve were specifically about beer, others tangentially related.
None of Mr. Jackson's oeuvre were on that list. Why? Because they sit above any such list. In the 1970s, when Jackson began to write about beer, literature on its provenance was scant.
The world always knew that beer was a noble and complex drink, but, for a moment in history, that was forgotten. Now it is being remembered. in every country that can afford such luxuries, traditional styles of beer are being revived and new ones are being created.
His many books since then, erudite, witty, and cyclopedic, should be required reading for anyone serious about beer, or just wishing to learn more. They stand the test of time.
So, here's my (non-Jackson) list: 12 'Beer' Books for Christmas.
- 12. Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine
- 11. How To Read a French Fry and Other Stories of Intriguing Kitchen Science
- 10. Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World
- 9. The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the Last Mystery of the Senses
- 8. The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community
- 7. The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer
- 6. Malting and Brewing Science
- 5. the beerbistro cookbook
- 4. Christmas Beer: The Cheeriest, Tastiest, and Most Unusual Holiday Brews
- 3. The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food
- 2. Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer
- 1. I'll leave this choice a surprise. (Go to the link.)
Merry Christmas to all, and fruitful reading in the new year.
The original edition of The New World Guide To Beer was published in 1977, but without the adjective "New." There was a reprint in 1997. All editions are currently out-of-print.