What do I mean by that? There are many paths, many routes to understanding. Stan is either on another route from me or so far ahead of me on the same one that I can't see him from here. We should be honest about these things. Fortunately, in life belief fills in where there are these gaps in one's understanding. And I believe Stan most times when I don't understand things. You have to believe like that. And I don't love hops. Very rarely have I taken a long drag on a beer and said to myself "Ah, love those new fangled hops." It does happen. Kipling South Pacific Pale Ale by Thornbridge. That was yum. Happens rarely. Your mileage may differ.
So, now that I have told you that it is me not Stan, what can I tell you of worth in a review like this? Ten chapters and an epilogue. Chapter 6 named "The Hop Store" is a good place to start. 105 varieties are described. And it is not comprehensive. Historic ones are not described. Nor future ones. Which means you have to understand 105 varieties or at least have an interest in learning. Before that list, there is a description of the sorts of hop pellets and hop extracts as well as some sense of how each is used. Which gets to a point. While this is a good book for any wee beer nerd to have on the shelf, it is important that any brewer or would be brewer have it on the bedside table. See, this is a publication of the Brewers Association in its Brewing Elements Series and is subtitled a practical guide. A guide for brewers.
Then look at Chapter 4, "A Plant With A Future" in which the modern botany and husbandry of hop breeding is explained. There is a chart on page 76 from the Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture that describes the genetic distance between a whole bunch of hop varieties. Detail. But this is not dry statistics. Stan interweaves the narrative on the development of hops in our culture with quotes and anecdotes from leading brewers and hop breeders from around the world. Full of insight and detail. The book is full of it. Allowing the reader to be brought along with a complex or at least voluminous topic. With command and a certain friendly lilt. The whole thing is like this. A damn fine thing.
Secret time. I have seen and listed well over a million types of bird. Feels like that looking back. It was years ago. During L.B.C. - or life before kids - when you could spend weekend after weekend in the woods pishing and twitting and ticking between drinks around the fire reading birder guides to eastern North America. Once at the fire, a Chestnut-sided warbler almost attacked my face around noon on a June Saturday. I was that good a pisher. It was inches away. I could pick out a warbler from just the proctologist's point of view. Maybe I have no room for more natural science lists in my life. Maybe, like with birds now, I don't care so much for the details or the list as much as sitting back and enjoying the experience. Maxed out on that. But I bet you're not like me all that much in this particular regard. Better not be if you are a brewer. If you want to be any good. The rest of you? Of course, you should buy this book.