I recently received a review copy of the second edition of the "Essential Reference of Domestic Brewers and Their Bottled Brands". Published by MC Basset, it is quite an interesting book as in a way it is not a book so much as part of a system, a tool which also includes access to an updated data system to keep on top of craft brewing in the United States.
One major market for the DBBB is the really the retailer who needs to know quickly whether a particular brew is available in state. Through various listings, the storekeeper can not only determine how to contact the brewery but also can also use a quick reference to see if the beer has been locally available to date. Once in stock, the book and the website also provide handy reference pages in the Portfolio Index with information supplied by some participating brewers that can be printed and used in the shop to better inform the customer either as a sign or even a label on the end of a case. [It would be good if more craft brewers signed up for this part of the service.] You get the sense that the DBBB would be very useful for the beer store wanting to move out into the craft market, something we hope a lot of beer stores will be considering over the next, say, few decades.
For the beer geek like me, the DBBB can be used in one or two different ways. There is a handy beer styles index in which separate beers are categorized according to style so that if I know I like the dunkelweizen called Munich Dark from Harpoon Brewery in Boston Mass. I might also like Saranac Season's Best from The Matt Brewing Company in Utica NY. I also will use the alphabetical Brewer Index as well as the Geographical Brewer Index which are a simple brewery address and list of their brands - though, if you think about it this is fairly similar to Brewery Profile pages at Beer Advocate, like this one for The Matt Brewing Company. Trouble with the Beer Advocate, though, or any computer based beer guide is that it is hard to carry in the back seat of the car under a couple of cases next to the hockey sticks and boots. By comparison, the DBBB can be considered a handy dandy field guide for those excusions into unknown beer territory, useful when passing through different states to keep track of new beers you run across.
The DBBB only covers US beers and breweries and also relies on the brewery for data so don't expect the sort of half-baked opinion I might give out around here. It is about the facts. It's definitely worth a look. Check out what others have had to say here and here and here and here if you don't believe me.