I’ve been trying to write a book about beer for quite a while. I wanted to write something that would explain the story from start to finish with a focus on the early history – the part that gets overlooked a little bit. Had the Comic Book Story of Beer been out when I started, I could have saved a whole load of time!
Before we get to why, I’d like to mention first impressions. This is a very visually striking book. It’s very different to every other book about beer I’ve ever read, for obvious reasons, but it isn’t gimmicky or childish in any way. Some may scoff at the idea of a comic book, but this thing is absolutely beautiful! Aaron McConnell’s artwork is clear but detailed, with exact likenesses of people like Dr. Patrick McGovern and Michael Jackson (the Beer Hunter, not the Prince of Pop) and perfectly understandable visual representations of the complex chemistry at work in the brewing process.
That, combined with a couple of dollops of humour through the easy-to-follow timeline and the clear thread of the story, makes the Comic Book Story of Beer very difficult to put down.
What really makes this book great, though, is the perfect clarity it brings to the story of beer, from hunter-gatherers to the pint of craft beer in your hand right now. It’s a complicated and confusing path at times, but The Comic Book Story of Beer seems to untangle it with ease.
Of course, it’s by no means an exhaustive history. Even just text would require an enormous book to cover all of that material, never mind illustrating it. However, it’s a fantastic introduction which covers all the main plot points, from ancient beer literature like the Hymn to Ninkasi, through to the monopolies that churches and states held over beer and the rise of lager, to the resurgence of a local, experimental beer community. Everything from beer’s evolution to the craft revolution.
Armed with this crystal clear run through of nearly 10,000 years of history, I feel more than equipped to head out and research the key points in greater depth. It’s like somebody heard the screams in my head when I tried to untangle millennia of information, and then draw me a load of bloody diagrams!
Not to complain, but I could have used this about two years ago…
If there’s a beer lover in your life, and you’re deciding between 100 Books to Try Before You Get Fat or another coffee table beer book and this for their birthday, then GET THIS. Even if it’s not their birthday.
Even if they don’t like beer.
Even if they don’t exist, and you’re secretly buying stuff for yourself.
It’s a great introduction to the enormous history of beer, so if you’re a total beginner but are looking for a quick, clear round-up of the full story, this book and a couple of hours will give you everything you need to start the path towards total beer geek.
If you already consider yourself a beer expert, then this book will be an entertaining and coherent summation of your knowledge.
This book will now be a permanent resident of my beery bookshelf, and no doubt I will turn to it time and time again to regain my bearings when I get lost in 10,000 years of the history of beer.
You can buy the Comic Book Story of Beer here.