Beer 101 classes are nothing new. Geared toward novice craft beer drinkers and even non-fans, such classes are held in pubs, breweries, bottle shops and tap houses across the country. Realbeer.com even featured an online version several years ago. Some are one-time events; others are regular events that cover different aspects of craft beer each time. They are educational, interesting and, of course, fun. After all, the subject is beer.
For those who have not had a chance to attend an informational beer class, The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer is for you. It’s not just a single Beer 101 class in a book; it’s a whole semester’s worth of schoolin’. And, like its classroom counterparts, it’s so fun you don’t realize you’re learning a lot as you follow along.
Authors Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune have taken the knowledge they gathered while working as beer sommeliers at the reputable Father’s Office in Santa Monica, CA, and organized it into a snappy book that is geared toward the less-informed beer lover and recent convert, but is still an interesting read for the knowledgeable beer aficionado. And their passion for craft beer comes across loud and clear in their prose.
Although the authors never flat-out tell the guys to take a hike, one gets the impression while reading The Naked Pint that it is written mostly with women in mind, with a smattering of “women” jokes and a tone that makes the reader feel like she is hanging out with some cool girlfriends. And with the authors’ backgrounds in promoting beer to women—they operate a Web site called Beer for Chicks—the feminine feel is not surprising.
Chatty, informational, funny and, at times, irreverent, The Naked Pint lets the reader get as involved as she wants, moving and drinking through different levels of beer experiences. An ambitious book, it starts out with some beer basics such as the difference between an ale and a lager, an overview of beer styles and even a short treatise on off-flavors. The authors also explain IBUs and ABVs—and why the reader should pay special attention to the latter if she’s a smart drinker. The reader will learn about everything from how kegs work to pairing food and beer, beer lingo, a bit on homebrewing, points on proper glassware and even tips for perfecting one’s palate—plus a lot more.
Possibly because it tries to cover so much, the information seems to get a little difficult to follow at times. For instance, one informational box tries to explain the “Bud Wars” between the Anheuser-Busch Budweiser and the Budweiser from Czech Republic (or Czechvar as it is called in the U.S.), the authors call the Czech brewery by two different names in concurrent sentences without introducing either, further complicating an already confusing story. In another part of the book, the reader learns that hops provide tannins to beer much like those found in wine, but when learning about malts, it is not mentioned that malts more often impart tannins than hops.
Nonetheless, The Naked Pint is an approachable guide that one can read through or easily jump to specific subjects. It’s a good read that helps even a newbie learn enough about craft beer to blossom into a true beer aficionado—or at least impress the guys at the bar.