I mentioned Roger Protz's new book 300 Beers To Try Before You Die! the other day and what did Knut, our man in Norway, do? He got a copy and has reviewed it for us - even sending a very snazzy cover shot, too. Here's the review:
British beer writer veteran Roger Protz has a new book out, published through CAMRA called 300 beers to try before you die! It is well worth investing in for anyone with an interest in quality beer. Protz draws on his vast knowledge to give a different type of beer guide, which I think will be of use, both to newly converted ale disciples and to more seasoned drinkers who want to test out beers beyond their usual staples.
The concept is fairly simple: Set up a list of 300 good beers, representing the major categories around the world. Focus on high quality beers from small and medium sized brewers. This could be done by just about anybody, but the author makes the most of this format. Each beer is presented with colour illustrations, most of them of excellent quality. We get a potted history of the beer and the brewery, tasting notes and anecdotes. The web sites of the breweries are also include – very useful if you want to seek out more elusive beers. While this concept naturally focuses on brews worth praising, Protz is not hesitant to criticize producers who are taking short cuts compared to the traditional ways of brewing. He includes Pilzner Urquell as a recommended beer, but points out that the beer was even better 20 years ago, before the recent rise in exports and change of production methods. He similarly draws on his decades of experience and makes this a good read as well as a reference book to dip into.
The book is divided in chapters presenting the various beer types – bitter, pale ales, pilsners, Trappist beers etc. This is a British publication, and the focus is on beers available in Britain. A few of the beers are only available on tap in remote villages (something for the most experienced CAMRA drinkers, too), but most of us will find a number of beers either available in a friendly well-assorted beer shop or when travelling in North America or Western Europe. It is no surprise that a majority of the beers are from Germany, Belgium, England and the US, but other countries are also represented.
One minor item: Some of these beers are available in both draft and bottled/canned versions. Some more details about this, maybe with some words on how the different versions may vary in taste, would have been welcome. One can always argue about such a selection. Is there too much emphasis on stouts and porters? Any beer lover has his top ten or top hundred, often based on what is locally available. Personally, I find that my favourite brewers are well covered, and from what Protz writes about the beers I know I like, I can set up a list of beers I will try at the first opportunity. As for my score, I have to admit that I have tried less than a third of these beers. But, on the other hand, I have no intention to roll over and die just yet!