The Beer Bible

Ten years ago, the wine educator Karen MacNeil published a book called The Wine Bible (Workman Publishing). I'm not especially clued into the wine world, but by all accounts The Wine Bible was a massive conceptual and commercial hit. Conceptually, it's brilliant: 900 pages, with sections arranged by region, it covers every conceivable topic a layperson might be interested in. Yet it was released in paperback, with black-and-white photos, at the bargain price of $20. Add MacNeil's voice, simultaneously lyrical, accessible, and authoritative, and you have a fantastic book. It has been in print for those ten years--in its first edition--and is still the best-selling wine book at Amazon, and currently ranked 1,600 among all books Amazon sells (though it's usually around 3,000).

I mention this because about 15 months ago, I learned that Workman was considering a companion piece on the topic of beer. The idea for The Beer Bible would be to recreate the elements that made The Wine Bible so successful (though, as an editorial comment, I'll note that it's hard to imagine any beer book selling as well as the best-selling wine book). For over a year, I was one of the authors vying for the chance to write The Beer Bible (proposal, table of contents, chapters), and this spring, Workman decided to give me the shot.

The Beer Bible will be structured around beer styles in the way The Wine Bible used wine regions, with an exploration of the history, brewing techniques, style characteristics, and current evolution, as well as a handful of examples of each style. I actually started writing it in earnest six weeks ago, and you might have noticed some style-based themes on the blog (the question of foundational pale ales, the surprise success of brown ale in the form of Pete's Wicked, and the malts in porter); guess which chapters I was working on when I wrote those posts? The contract runs for two years, and I'm supposed to produce something on the order of 650-700 pages.

I alluded to all this a couple months ago and speculated that it might affect my frequency of blogging. Turns out, I don't think it will. But it is likely to affect the content of blogging. I'll be spending more time on general themes and less time on the Oregon scene. At some point, I'll travel to Europe to do research--and that should produce blogging of an entirely different variety. Finally, I'll continue to bounce things off you as I do research for this book. Collectively, you know a lot more than I do, and as a resource, you've been invaluable. I hope the blog, while it may change a bit, stays interesting.

Now, back to those porters....