Some irritations first. There are a large number of empty cross references like this on page 557:
magazines See BEER WRITING
Exactly the same information appears in the index at page 910. There are enough of these, like three in a row on page 712, that it creates an impression that I am reading a late draft.¹ The same is true for some of the citations at the end of entries. What's the logic? Not all entries have them. Where they do, especially where the citation relates to information on the internets, they are a mess and ripe for link rot. Hint: we have not had to have the "http://" included in a web reference for well over a decade.
Some of the entries are looser or less authoritative than others. The entry under "health" is an unbalanced argument that beer is some sort of wonder drug, offering any manner of health benefits. The one for "Franklin, Benjamin" mentions that he published a book by someone else that mentioned descriptions of barley, mentions that he did not say that saying he is often said to have said and also references that he likely liked beer. Not particularly vital information. There is something of a feel like people were told to send in entries they thought were important rather than being selected by a watchful editorial eye.
Which leads to the game a book like this leads to. As this is not "The Encyclopedia of Beer" or "The Dictionary of Beer" but only a companion, you start to argue with it. I ran upstairs just now to check one of Jay's facts in the Franklin entry. Phillie in 1787 was hot. So he probably did drink beer. And reading Josh Rubin's entry on "Canada" - an easy starting point I thought - I get chippy with page 212. Lagers did not come to Canada, as is stated, with the settling of the Canadian prairies by immigrants from central Europe. It came to what was known as Canada West, now Ontario, with German settlers as early as the 1860s if not earlier. The construction of the railway that led to the settlement of the west didn't start until the 1880s.
GOTCHA! Gotcha? Really?? Is that how you would treat a companion? Hardly. The problem is not one of accuracy so much as the level of abstraction. With pages and pages of brief dense entries, there will inevitably be the sorts of condensations which should led you, if interested, to take on your own further and more detailed research. Sure, there are which could be cleaned up in a second edition like the odd use of both "Nouvelle-France" and "Nouvelle France" for what English speaking Canada refer to as New France, that former imperial presence that is not what is now Quebec but which stretched in an arc up from New Orleans through the Great Lakes to Cape Breton.
But that is just a quibble. The real news with the publication of The Oxford Companion to Beer is we now have 920 pages of serious beer writing each page of which alone will trigger any number of arguments, plenty of scurrying for further sources and the occasional drifting of the book across the room, hopefully missing the lamp. This is a very good thing.
¹Though the sad little empty entry for "Calagione, Sam" is just sweet.