From the previously mysterious Delta hop’s introduction to the United States to the top five beers to try from the small but growing world of female brewers, Josh Bernstein has tackled the daunting task of providing a light, yet comprehensive overview of the craft beer community in just over 300 pages of easy reading.

Brewed Awakening kicks off with Bernstein beer-bonging his way through a 30-pack of Busch Light in high school and detailing other key life experiences that led to “The Making of a Beer Geek” in his introductory section. His taste buds matured during a cross-country road trip that went sour and eventually steered him to Boulder after a friend told him to “[c]ome on down. We’ll drink some beer.” That beer, which “was Fourth of July fireworks compared to the wan sparklers to which [he’d] become accustomed,” happened to be an Avery IPA and his gateway into the “creative fringes” of the craft beer revolution.

Bernstein, a Brooklyn-based freelance writer takes the reader on a tour of “oddball hops,” farmer-like brewers, beer styles that were once on the brink of extinction, and everywhere “that better—or stranger—beer is being made.” He uses eight chapters in his first book to chronicle the craft beer community as it exists today, and each chapter is divided into numerous sections that each end with recommendations on the beers that best illustrate the region, style, or brewing method detailed in the text. Each recommendation not only lists the beer name, brewery, and alcohol by volume, but also includes brewing information and tasting notes. Bernstein’s tasting notes, which rarely sound ostentatious, suit the craft beer fans who may know just enough about what they are drinking to be dangerous.

With its sturdy dust jacket, which appears to be made of recycled cardboard and doubles as a foldout “Beer Map,” Bernstein’s book feels more like a travel guide than a mini-tome on craft beer. Its brief tales of the hardships and successes of beer revolutionaries make Brewed Awakening an excellent starter book for the craft beer novice and a refresher for the well-versed hop head.

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