While it’s actually been available for purchase for a few weeks already, today is the “official” publication date of The Oxford Companion to Beer, the new encyclopedic reference book on all things beer. It was put together by my friend and colleague, Garrett Oliver, who’s the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery in in New York, and the author of the seminal beer and food book, The Brewmaster’s Table.
The actual authors include something like 166 beer writers, brewers, suppliers, brewing scientists and researchers; experts in their fields one and all. In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of the contributors, too, and wrote around 25 of the 1,100 entries in the 900-page book. As a result, I don’t think it’s fair for me to review it, though I must say it’s getting fairly good press already, including a rave by the New York Times’ Eric Asimov, who called it the “ultimate beer guide.”
Published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), it’s already one of their most successful reference books. Perhaps the best evidence that the world was waiting for a book like this is the fact that it sold out, twice, before today’s official publication date. According to the OUP — who considers a reference book a success if it sells a few thousand copies — they sold out of the initial 10,000 print run from pre-orders, printed another 5,000 which also immediately sold out, and are now on the third printing, all before today’s publication date.
During GABF, OUP had a nice reception for all of the authors who were attending the beer festival this year, and so there were quite a few of us there to see the book for the first time and try the new wheat wine, named Companion, that was a collaboration between Garret and Horst brewed at the Brooklyn Brewery. Apparently it will only be available if you purchase the boxed set of the new book, which comes with a bottle of the beer and the book, a companion to the companion.