A Taste for Beer

Author: Stephen Beaumont
Published: 1995

I was given this book as a gift, and read it in a couple of days. I settled into one of my two favourite spots to read – the living room couch. There’s an end table on the right side with a table lamp. The space is big enough to hold the lamp, my cup of tea, my book, and often times my cat. He likes to sit near me while I read, and usually sits right under the lamp so he can absorb some heat from it.

So I settled onto the couch, book in one hand and a cup of tea in the other (you’d think a book about beer deserves to be read while drinking beer!) The book was a very easy read, short and succinct. As Beaumont says in the beginning, he gives a very cursory overview of how the fermentation process works. He doesn’t go into great detail about the making of beer because that’s not what this book is about. The book is a great first look at some of the craft breweries popular in the early- and mid-1990’s. It’s a dated book because of that. Beaumont says that as of 1995, there were 600 craft breweries in North America, give or take a couple of dozen or so. Twenty-two years later and there are over a thousand and still growing strong.

What I liked about this book is the clear and concise layout of chapters. Beaumont starts with a brief overview of the craft brew industry in North America, and then proceeds to break down the various types and flavours of beer. The remaining three-quarters of the book is his take on enjoying life with the right beer. He makes the case for trying everything you can get your hands on, regardless if you think you will love it or hate it. He provides an appendix at the end with a list of beers and breweries he cites in the book for you to drink your way through. A great go-to guide for people to try something new. Often times you have to try the same beer in a variety of settings, seasons, and temperatures to get the right experience. It’s the same with tea.

While reading this book, I started with Peppermint tea. I generally follow the directions on the package for steeping tea, but I’m a purist and hardly ever add anything extra to my tea. No milk, sugar or honey to dilute the purity of the peppermint. This cool, refreshing flavor took me through the first part of the book, right up to the Spring and Summer section where Beaumont writes about the best beers to enjoy during these seasons. I could feel the crispness and spiciness he was describing with wheat beers. He says to avoid anything reminiscent of winter like porters, stouts, or strong ales. My go-to tea is almost always a black tea strong with flavor so choosing at random the peppermint tea was serendipitous. The feeling of coolness spreading throughout the body was refreshing and invigorating. Truly made me think of patio weather in the lazy days of summer when a stiff breeze blows through to cool down the city.

For the remaining half of the book I switched to a Pumpkin Spice Tea Latte. This tea makes me think of Fall and Halloween and the obvious pumpkin pie. The spiciness of the tea latte, mixed with Beaumont’s suggestion of pairing märzens, bocks, and weizens with harvest bounty vegetables makes me want to speed through the seasons and live in fall forever. I steeped the Pumpkin Spice Tea Latte with water and then added three tablespoons of milk to give it the creaminess and silkiness associated with a store-bought pumpkin spice latte. To top is off, I added a dash of vanilla maple cinnamon spice blend and was in tea heaven!

Beaumont also provides many recipes that call for specific beer flavours. He’s heavy on the meat section but still provides a few vegetarian options. Beer does pair extremely well with meat in general, but we shouldn’t discount the vegetarian options available. He incorporates the beer directly into the recipe, and I’m looking forwards to trying the eggplant and honey beer side dish. While I’m not overly experimental with my cooking, I do love to bake with loose-leaf tea. Some of my best creations are vanilla matcha chocolate bark and blueberry shortbread. I’m sure I could easily add the Pumpkin Spice Latte mixture to the Gingerbread Crust Pumpkin Pie recipe to compliment Beaumont’s recommendation of using a porter in the filling. It was a fluke that I was drinking the Pumpkin Spice Tea Latte while reading the recipe section, but I find that when I just go with what feels good I find the best adventures in books and tea.

As I write this blog post, I’m sipping a mellow and creamy Milk Oolong. It provides a calming feeling and helps to center my thoughts for writing. It has a silky feel to it that doesn’t overpower the thoughts and feelings, but because it’s so mellow I’m left wondering if I’m drinking flavoured hot water instead. The one plus side to this tea is that it’s filling without being heavy.

Teas Consumed

  • Peppy Peppermint, Creamy Milk Oolong, Pumpking Spice Tea Latte – all available from Steeped Tea.