Every so often I get sent a beer book review and from the moment I got a press release about Mikkeller's Book of Beer I was excited. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is one of the most famed and exciting brewers in Europe, if not the world I knew that hearing what he has to say about how he started up, why he does what he does and his view on beer would surely be exciting.
First of all, the layout of the book is beautiful. It's so cleanly laid out yet full of Mikkeller's in house artist Keith Shore's artwork and wonderful photographs.
First we have a brief history of beer, which basically retells many of the myths we've all learned are crap but it's entertaining and captivating nonetheless, before we get to Mikkeller's story.
The whole story of Mikkeller is a fascinating one and the way he tells it cuts the bullshit. I've heard many stories from many different people about how he came to start brewing and none of them are remotely close to the one in this book, the real one, straight from the horses mouth.
Throughout the book are other little snippets, or interludes, with stories about some of his most popular beers.
And then you get to the homebrew section. Yes, Mikkeller teaches you to brew and once again it's in a simple way unlike many of the how to brew all grain guides I've previously read. He takes it step by step, with each section reinforcing the most important rule of brewing... CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN.
The most exciting part of this book, however, is not the story of how he started; not the mildly incorrect lesson on beer history; not the guide on how to homebrew but in fact he gives away some of his own recipes!
He has included detailed recipes of some of his most popular beers including I Beat yoU, Texas Ranger & Beer Geek Bacon as well as a few recipes from his friends at Firestone Walker, Three Floyds and even our own Kernel Brewery.
All in all, it's a good book but it's not without its negatives. Firstly, a lot of the English translation seems like it's been tapped into a search engine with the command "DANISH TO ENGLISH" which I suppose isn't too much of a big deal although there's one paragraph that literally repeats the same sentence twice. Secondly, I feel a bit sorry for Brewdog getting left out of this book considering they're massive supporters of Mikkeller, are exclusive importers of his beer in the UK, have collaborated with him on beers and even gypsy brewed for him. You could argue that Brewdog don't need the exposure but that's not the point.
Now as good of a book as this is, I don't believe it's for beer geeks other than the homebrewing kind. If you want to know Mikkeller's story, that's great, but this book won't really expand your knowledge on beer a great deal. It's a bit of a beginner's book and in all honesty, that's no bad thing. Buy it for a friend who really wants to get into beer and homebrewing but doesn't know where to start.
It's available on Amazon now priced at £13.60: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1909342882