The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer by Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune is a new book on beer that I think is terrific. I started reading the book as pretty much a beer novice and finished it really thirsty and ready to make an organized attempt at trying many different beer styles. I accidentally gave myself a lot of homework.
The book begins, as it should, describing how beer is made, and more importantly how each element in beer influences the taste. From that point on in the book the authors talk not just about what a beer style usually tastes like, but also why. Then they tackle how to taste beer, describe what makes a particular beer great, and list several examples of beers from around the world they consider the most balanced, quintessential to a category, unique, iconic, and rare.
Most of the meat of the book is dedicated to explaining the differences between and giving recommendations for the many different craft beer categories. These are organized by least to most challenging flavored beers, starting with pilsners and finishing with hoppy beers and American strong ales. You could, as I did, go through the book and mark categories and particular beers you want to try. I may very likely carry this book with me when I go to my local craft beer bar to look up menu selections before ordering.
The descriptions in the book are usually quite clear as to how a beer style will taste, the alcohol content, color, and other descriptors. They're also entertainingly written, as is the whole book- I laughed out loud in many places. This topic could be so very dry if it were penned by other writers, and this was one of its strongest factors- it was a pleasure to read what is essentially an encyclopedia.
Each beer category is described in detail and also succinctly, such as:
Spirit of the Saison. This Beer's For You If You Like: Seasons, pepper. citrus. balance. smelling freshly cut grass. classy drinks. the French countryside.
The last section of the book has information on beer glassware, home storage, beer tasting parties, and other practical matters.
Then there are many recipes for cooking with beer, and a whole section on home brewing with home brew recipes. This last bit I think was a little unnecessary or off-topic, as there are plenty of other books on home brewing whereas this feels at its heart a craft beer style guide and practical tasting and drinking guide. But too much information in a book is better than too little, and The Naked Pint felt like it had the right amount about what I wanted to know. Overall I learned a ton from this book and can't wait to put it to good use.