Evan Rail lives in Prague, Czech Republic. Earlier this year, he published (if that's the word) an ebook —an ontological essay, if you will— on "why beer matters," which is, it so happens, the exact name of his book.
Available only for Kindle, Why Beer Matters sits at position #11 on my Cool Yule 2012! list only because of its brevity. That economy, however, is a plus. In the time it might take you to drink a pint (or two?) of your favorite beer, Mr. Rail will have succinctly limned his arguments for beer's place in life.
To summarize his thesis:
On the metaphysical and geo-physical differences between wine and beer.
In talking about vintage, he finds each year's harvest of wine to be "much like the aurochs or the passenger pigeon, something that is doomed to extinction." Wine is a creature of the weather, climate, and soil —the terroir. Beer is much less so; it is repeatable. Those are not bad or good things. They just are.
On beer's inherent nature.
when beer leaves the brewery, its clock is ticking like a time bomb. This immediate nature means, in part, that there are many beers that are truly seasonal, that are firmly tied to a specific date on the calendar.
On an egalitarian —"demotic"— aspect of beer, his central point.
This is partly why beer — good beer, great beer, especially what we might call “craft” beer — has touched so many people in the past few years: not its affordability (though the lower price per unit of joy certainly does have some appeal), but rather its accessibility, the fact that the beer world is one where everyone’s opinion is equally valid, where there is no equivalent to Robert Parker or The Wine Spectator’s James Suckling: not Garrett Oliver, not Stephen Beaumont, and not Roger Protz. ... The concept of applying this to beer dies even before the key hits the ignition: it is not possible to name a beer journalist, writer or critic who holds anything like that kind of influence.) Instead, consumers’ relationship to beer is decidedly more flat and fair than the old-fashioned, top-down approach.
Rail's Why Beer Matters is a thoughtful paean to the simple joy that beer rewards: at the end of the day —literally— it's the anticipation and the thing itself. Read the essay as the best conversation about beer with the person on the next bar-stool over ... that you've never had.