Today, I’m happy to hand the blog over to my husband, Shawn Davidson, who was kind enough to review The Best Beer in the World by Mark Dredge for me. A newly minted beer student, Shawn is the perfect person to tackle this review (and he’ll be handling even more craft brew coverage moving forward).
The Best Beer in the World by Mark Dredge appeared in our mailbox at just the right time for me, as I‘m currently looking into making a career transition into the beer industry. I found this book to be a good way to begin my formal education, as I started reading it just before starting my first beer course at a local college.
The Best Beer in the World is full of educational and historical facts, lots of great tasting notes and descriptions of the adventures (including a couple quite drunken ones) that Dredge has taken around the world while looking to discover his favorite beer. I found the chapter on Belgian brewing particularly interesting and coincidentally read it two days before Belgian brewing history was covered in my class. The chapter helped me gain a small understanding of Belgian brewing and I felt a lot more informed while in class. One fact this book and my class truly drove home is that one chapter in a book or a three hour class will only give you a very small understanding of Belgian brewing history. It’s an extensive topic that I look forward to learning much more about.
This is a book I will keep handy for its insight on many of the world’s great beers and especially as a guide to assist in my travels. Dredge went to several destinations I hope to visit and several that I have visited and will again. For example, I’ll be in Amsterdam for the third time this summer and the book’s “City Guide” will definitely enhance my beer experience and provide some new experiences. I visit Germany every year; but this summer will be my first time driving through southern Germany and visiting Munich. Dredge’s section on Munich made me look even more forward to visiting and the book’s “City Guide” will certainly come in very handy with our planning.
Dredge is very knowledgeable about beer history, brewing and tasting. Several times I was fascinated that his tasting notes could be as in depth on his twelfth or fifteenth beer of the day as with his first or second. I guess, as with wine, it comes with experience but unlike wine there seems to be much less spitting in the world of beer!
As well as being very informative and educational, this book was a lot of fun to read. You get a real sense of the adventure Dredge was on as you read about the places visited and the beers tasted. Of course, with the amount of beer consumed in order to write this book there were some epic hangovers—and he didn’t shy away from describing a couple. One in particular sounded absolutely horrifying considering the environment he was in and the amount he described consuming the day before. But he had a job to do and got right back to the task at hand.
Does Dredge choose a “best beer in the world” or even a personal favorite? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find that out! He shows passion and respect for all kinds of beer while writing and you definitely get a sense that I.P.A’s and pilsners are right at the top of his list. He gets quite in depth with lagers (quite the write-up on Budweiser!), and many craft beers and definitely shows appreciation for the English ales of his home country.
Dredge really drives home the fact that great beer is not simply what’s in the glass. It’s so much more than that. The people you’re with, the history and being where the beer is made all factor in. Everything from what’s going on in your life at the time to the weather can be huge factors in deciding what a great beer is or if it’s one of your favorites. This was a concept I could relate to and agree with. Dredge goes on to describe a “holiday” beer that is truly one of his favorites, even though most locals think it’s terrible and hate it with a passion!
The biggest and perhaps only change I would make here is adding more Canadian content. He mentioned Montreal, which was great (no mention of Unibroue?), but he spent a lot of time spent on the U.S. West Coast without a visit to Vancouver for its many brewpubs and microbreweries. A very small complaint and I hope he has the chance to visit some of the Canadian craft brewers for a future edition of this book.
Overall a great read that I would recommend to anyone from total beer enthusiasts to those looking for a fun introduction to beer.
What do YOU think is the best beer in the world? Share your thoughts in the comments or on social.
*I received a review copy of this book, but all opinions are my own.