This is a funny book. Guide books can be. You see they are to guide people from "X" around about a little old place we like to call "Y". If you are from "X" or "Y", you are likely going to understand what's going on but if you are not it gets to be a bit of an exercise in cultural anthropology with a decent bit of literary deconstruction thrown in.
"What the hell are you on about?" you might ask - and well you might. Have a look at Stan's review from last week in which he describes the authors: bright well-placed beer journalists from the UK who spent a total of 56 days in situ to learn what they needed to tell the story of a number of the great brewing cities which have emerged in the world. The sense of pace is set out in the book as is their odd idea of normal - TVs and shuffleboards in bars are noteworthy, for example. Yet, there is a really handy seven page idiot's guide to US beer styles. There's also a bit plummy text that gets a bit distracting to someone trying to interpret the guidance being offered. The same page contains the phrases "brews from Blighty" and "carefully curated array of bottled beers." You get the sense from some shorter pub or brewery reviews that a thesaurus was enlisted in an effort to make sure samenesses observed were not so conveyed. However, there are some fantastic photos of the eye catching that are up there with the beer porn Evan Rail was handing out left right and centre in his sibling guide to Prague and the Czech Republic.
What can I say in a few sentences that can sum up a book addressed to someone other than me about a place I haven't visited since I was three? It's useful and very well laid out. It's handy and the maps are great. If I was on the ground I am sure that I would find it indispensable and that the British asides would not be so obvious. But it will take a place of honour with my other travel guides. But if I wanted to learn about any particular brewery or beer they discuss, I would find far more information on the internet. But that's just it. This is not an encyclopedia. It's a guide or, as birder books better say, a field guide for keeping in a glove compartment when you are out and about. Except you'd be taking public transport, right?