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The Gospel Of Brew: The Beer Bible

After working on The Beer Bible for nearly two years, author and beer writer Jeff Alworth says he gained a newfound appreciation for all kinds of beers, not just his old favorites.

“I had definite preferences before I started the book, but by the time I finished, it felt like they were my children, and I loved them equally,” he says, laughing. 

Alworth is visiting Eugene on Aug. 15 to promote The Beer Bible, a dizzyingly comprehensive guide to all things beer. 

If this book sounds like a benevolent gift to the Pacific Northwest, that’s because Alworth is one of our own.

“I live in Portland, Oregon, home to more breweries than any city on earth,” Alworth writes in the book’s opening section. “If you detect the whiff of a West Coast orientation in these pages, my apologies. I come by it honestly.”

The Beer Bible contains vast quantities of history, and rightly so: Beer has spanned the millennia, delighting humanity in the Fertile Crescent and elsewhere. We owe our Ninkasi Total Domination and Oakshire Overcast Espresso Stout to thousands of years of brewing.

The book is organized so that the reader can browse, perusing beers of interest, or read from cover to cover. Each section introduces a category of beer, starting with ales of all sorts: bitters, pale ales, porters and stouts, barley wines and more.

Take the brown ales section, for example: Alworth breaks down the beer’s history and its evolution over time, suggesting beers of a similar style that brown ale lovers might also like — in this case, amber ales and porters. 

Next comes a list of “beers to know,” specific brews from around the world deemed noteworthy as examples of satisfying brown ales. 

And take heart, Ninkasi fans: Under the India pale ale category, Total Dom ranks high as a model IPA. The book is chock-full of fascinating beer facts, obscure beer styles and a useful glossary that can help you sound like a top-notch beer snob in 10 minutes.

Though Alworth journeyed to Europe while researching this book, speaking to German brewers and sampling English beers, he says the Pacific Northwest still represents a unique hub of beer and brewing. 

And where does Eugene fit into the world of craft beer?

“What’s fascinating about Eugene is that until the mid-2000s, it was a terrible [beer] scene, terribly underrepresented in terms of local breweries,” Alworth says. “Until around 2008, Eugene wouldn’t have been considered a beer town compared to Bend or Hood River, but Eugene has finally caught up and it has some really nice stuff going.”

Nice enough to get into The Beer Bible, at least.

Hear Alworth speak about his book noon Saturday, Aug. 15, at Ninkasi Brewing, 272 Van Buren Street; free.