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Book Review: Beer Sommelier

Beer Sommelier Book Review

Beer Sommelier:

A Journey Through The Culture Of Beer

by Fabio Petroni, Pietro Fontana and Giovanni Ruggieri

White Star, Hardcover, $39.95, 232 pp.

Coffee table books are usually enjoyable expeditions through thick glossy paper festooned with high-quality photographs, rewarding readers with interesting factoids and striking images along the way.

Beer is not the most common subject for the hefty hardcovers often found on the glass-topped tables of the intelligentsia, but Beer Sommelier: A Journey Through The Culture Of Beer hopes to change that.

Stunning photography is a hallmark of the genre and Beer Sommelier is no exception. Fabio Petroni, the book’s photographer, gets top billing in the byline. This is no surprise, as the photographs found within are breathtaking. Petroni expertly captures the vivid colors, frisky bubbles and curvaceous glassware that make beer such a popular – and aesthetically pleasing – drink.

Petroni is so effective in portraying beer as an enticing, even seductive, beverage that the labored translation of Pietro Fontana’s words (a famed microbrewery owner in Monza, Italy) often falls short of capturing the mystique that the photos so readily express. Fontana’s organization of the book and affinity for American craft beer are clear though, and the pictures more than make up for the lack of style and polish found in the poorly translated text.

The last 50 pages are devoted to food recipes that employ beer as a major ingredient. The recipes were created by Giovanni Ruggieri, a chef who focuses on using local and authentic ingredients. All of the dishes seem playful and interesting, from stout spaghetti to hazelnut cookies with brown ale foam to American lager and mint jell-o. Coupled with the delightful photos, these make for terrific reading – and hopefully some tasty experimentation.

While the text is flawed, Beer Sommelier is still an excellent addition to the stable of coffee table books with its creative recipes and tantalizing photographs.