Intoxicating Literature
Book Review of _The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers_ by Adem Tepedelen
by: Dan Lake
Before I start gushing like a little girl who likes thick, musky beers, here are the basics: _The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers_ is an overview of over 100 (mostly) well distributed beverages that have been brewed to be, in some way, extreme. This includes high alcohol by volume (ABV) percentages, of course, but also the use of non-traditional ingredients, creative aging techniques, and my favorite -- raging, in-your-face hop flavor and bitterness. If such a description resonates deep in your taste buds, then stop reading this limp bit of writing about some writing about beer and go find this book. (It's really good.) If you can exercise a few minutes of self-control, though, please continue. I put some time into writing it, so maybe some reciprocated attention wouldn't be, like, out of line. Here goes:

If the world were right and just and under the influence of all the right substances, then beautiful publications like _The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers_ would line shelves on a regular biannual basis, and those publishing dates would be esteemed as extra international holidays when everyone, even Canadians, are given time off work to ponder all the possible acquisition techniques to get loaded on these beers. (It's possible I'm inebriated right now, and what of it? What fucking of it??)

Obviously, any book should be judged on its content (and we'll get to that soon), but _BTGtEB_ is so extraordinary in its presentation that it becomes an integral part of the book itself. After a brief, user-friendly introduction to certain craft beer lingo, _BTGtEB_ is segmented into theme-centered chapters which somewhat loosely bundle featured beers into subgroups. This is certainly a useful approach for anyone looking to expand their beer experiences in a particular direction. Each chapter is then capped with two interviews, one heavy hitter each from the craft brewing and metal worlds. The interviews are personable and enlightening. Every beer review bears a full color picture of its subject as well as a fun "Extreme Music Pairing" side note. The glossiness and subtle background texture on each page makes everything pop all the more.

Your heavy music pairing tastes may differ from author Adem Tepedelen's, but it's unlikely your beverage choices will. The first chapter breaks in craft beer novices ungently with a survey of the extravagant foody ingredients that have found their way into breweries. Horseradish, peaches, curry spices, and ghost peppers are just a few of the tantalizing elements featured in brews from all around (and beyond) the United States. Another chapter describes ABV levels that challenge (some might say completely cripple) preconceptions about the differences between beer and spirits. Brash, bitter hop invasion dominates one chapter; this has been my buying guide for the past couple months, and I can attest to the excellence represented throughout this section. Tepedelen details the benefits of aging certain beers with wild yeasts and/or in barrels which, in another life, were used for bourbon, gin, or wine. Two chapters focus on interesting naming conventions, having to do either with outwardly Satanic imagery or with obviously musical origins.

Throughout the book, Tepedelen uses both his experienced palate and veteran writer's voice to keep his descriptions vibrant and interesting. Because of regional restrictions, some of the beers profiled will stay infuriatingly out of reach for anyone not willing to travel hundreds of miles for their intoxicating substances, but this is not as prevalent a concern as one might think. Not meant for cover-to-cover reading, _BTGtEB_ is better used like a birdwatcher's back pocket guidebook. Keep it handy to turn impromptu beer runs into thrilling alcoholic safaris. Flip back to blurbs on acquired targets to read while sipping. Browse often to keep those still uncaptured marks in working memory. And keep drinking. Because beyond hunting for these brews alone, I've found that Tepedelen's book has piqued my overall excitement for trying any new discovery, and this happy result is reward enough all on its own.

(article submitted 25/1/2014)


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