Book review: Let Me Tell You About Beer

I really enjoy writing book reviews. I've been writing them for ages, both personally and professionally, and I never tire of the challenge. To be laudatory without sucking up. To be castigating without resorting to personal attacks ( "Did the author present the first draft in phlegm-speckled green crayon?" has always, to date, been edited out of my offerings).

The truth is: reader, I love reading and talking about what I've read. Ever since the day I pulled Suzy Watkins' pigtails until she promised to read 'Charlie And The Chocolate Factory" because I'd decided it was The Bestest Book In The World. Nowadays my nagging consists usually of a blogged taut summary, a few witty observations and a quote that's ideally phrased (but rarely used) for inclusion on the back cover of the paperback version.

Today, it's simply this: 'Let Me Tell You About Beer' is the best book about beer since Michael Jackson's 'Great Beer Guide'. And then some.

Melissa Cole is so passionate about beers that I've drank a hundred times already that I want to drink them again - the piece on Kelham Island Pale Rider has already been photocopied and pinned to my noticeboard as the finest beer review I've ever encountered. Her informal and engaging style sets this book apart from all other contemporaries. She puts a spin on the hackneyed 'theory + style' approach that is genuinely engaging. And it's so beautifully put together; great artwork, not the usual stock photos, plenty of warp and weft to it.

It's beery perfection. As an introduction to the wide, wild world of beer. And as a reminder to those who know enough to be dangerous... this is what honest-to-goodness beer writing is all about.

I'll finish by saying these three things about the book.

"...I want to give you clear, easily understandable descriptions of beers that reference familiar smells, flavours and sensations. Not because I think you're a bit simple, but because I feel my job is to tell you more about beer using markers you already understand". Best. Introduction. Ever.

The "If you like this.. try this" section that converts wine styles over to beer styles is that slap-the-forehead moment where you can't believe someone hasn't already written one with such aplomb.

It's subtitled "A beginner's guide to all things brewed". Ignore that. This deserves a place on every beer lover's shelf, casual or geeky. You may know little or think you know it all. I guarantee you, Melissa Cole will make you think different.

Let Me Tell You About Beer is published by Anova Books. Many thanks to them for the review copy.


  1. I just cried a little; thank you so much xxx

  2. Melissa was at The Rake yesterday dedicating copies with her Big Celebrity Magic Marker ;-)

    That's my bottle of Pl-eye-ny The Elder on p112. Any good for a discount, Melissa..?