《牛津啤酒指南》（The Oxford Companion to Beer）一书的主编加勒特•奥利弗如是说，但他随即将收回了这个论断。他说，这些说法尚未得到证实。这有点吹毛求疵了。这种事情总是很难证明的，但我们有充分的根据相信，啤酒是诺亚带上方舟的必需品之一。我们知道，埃及法老在其金字塔中囤积了成桶成桶的啤酒。我们同样知道，在中世纪，啤酒被用作法定货币，可以用它来支付税款，清偿债务。
在我看来，所有这一切完全讲得通，尽管我必须承认我从未碰到过一种我不喜欢的啤酒。尽管这跟我们今天要谈论的这本书没有关系。重要的是，所有涉及啤酒的迷人的事实都被倾注在了这本厚达920页的著作之中。这本书体现了一切书籍之美，囊括了所有你想知道的啤酒故事，是关于啤酒的终极指南——比如，密尔沃基酿酒人队（ Milwaukee Brewers）和圣路易红雀队（St. Louis Cardinals）为何要在布许体育场（Busch Stadium）和米勒公园球场（Miller Park）这些名称古怪的地方激烈厮杀，争夺今年的全国联赛锦标。
书中详尽阐述了自酿啤酒的流程，这也是应该的。自酿啤酒的方式“可以像用罐煲汤那么简单，也可以像小规模的商业工艺酿造那么富有技术性”。如今，估计有75万美国人在自己家里酿制啤酒。作者也为那些打算上路的啤酒发烧友介绍了每年在世界各地举办的1,200多个啤酒节。本月的好去处是一年一度的慕尼黑啤酒节（Oktoberfest）和巴西啤酒节。在家门口，美国本土的20家啤酒厂也将于11月份带着各自的特色产品，赶赴波特兰市，参加在那里举行的缅因州酿酒节（Maine Brewers Festival ）。
这本书由1,100多个独立的条目构成，按照从A到Z的方式呈现。其中有些内容出人意表。我以前总是把修道院啤酒（abbey beers）跟比利时的特拉普派僧侣联系在一起，难道你不是这么想的么？并没有确凿的证据显示，修道院啤酒果真是在修道院中酿制的。书中还介绍了克劳斯・扎斯特洛夫的故事。这位柏林技术大学（the Technical University in Berlin）的农业博士曾在安海斯布希公司（Anheuser-Busch）出任多个高级职务，他最终成了百威啤酒学校（Budweiser Beer School）的讲师和指导员，向公众传授啤酒业的基本知识。
如今，微型啤酒厂随处涌现，消费者也终于开始认真对待啤酒了。《牛津啤酒指南》一书在这一背景下出炉，可谓生逢其时。这本书是来自20个国家的166名专家集体智慧的结晶。加勒特•奥利弗亲自撰写了许多章节，并把其他专家的文字汇集成了一本有趣易用的啤酒指南。他十分了解这个行当。他常年主持品酒会，在世界各地发表演讲，经常在广播和电视上充当啤酒酿造业发言人的角色。奥利弗酿造的啤酒曾获得过数个全国性和国际性奖项。他如今在备受尊敬的布鲁克林啤酒厂（Brooklyn Brewery）担任酿酒师一职。布鲁克林也是Piel's, Rheingold, Schaefer, Schlitz和Trommer's等众多啤酒厂的发源地。一想起这些古老的啤酒厂酿制的啤酒，垂涎三尺的我就恨不得回到黑暗的中世纪。
—劳伦斯•A•阿莫尔是《时代》（Time）、《财富》、《货币》（Money）和《体育画报》 （Sports Illustrated)等杂志个性化内容的副主编。
"The history of beer, quite literally, is the history of human civilization. Some anthropologists believe that man moved away from a hunter-gather existence to a settled agriculture-based existence largely to grow enough grain to brew large amounts of beer."
So says Garrett Oliver, editor-in-chief of The Oxford Companion to Beer, but then he takes it back. These statements, he says, have not been verified. Picky, picky. Things like this are always hard to prove, but we have it on good authority that beer was among the provisions Noah loaded onto the ark. We know that Egyptian pharaohs stocked their pyramids with barrels of beer. We also know that beer was used in the Middle Ages as legal tender for paying taxes and settling debts.
All this makes perfect sense to me, although I must confess that I never met a beer I didn't like. But that's neither here nor there. The important thing is that all sorts of fascinating beer-related facts have been poured into this 920-page everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know beauty of a book that has the answer for everything—including why the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals battled it out for this year's National League pennant in quaintly named places like Busch Stadium (BUD) and Miller Park.
In all sincerity, the book is terrific. It looks good, thanks in part to 16 pages of beautiful color photographs and hundreds of tasteful black-and-white images. It's got the heft you'd expect from a $65 scholarly tome. And it covers all the bases—from the variety of agricultural commodities that go into beer to the vast number of ways it can be brewed, with each method imparting its own taste and texture.
Homebrewing—a process that "can be as simple as making soup from a can or as technically involved as small-scale commercial craft brewing"—is covered in detail, as well it should. An estimated 750,000 Americans are brewing at home these days. For beer enthusiasts who want to hit the road, the book includes an overview of the more than 1,200 beer festivals held around the world each year. This month features the annual Oktoberfests in Munich and Brazil. Closer to home, 20 local breweries will be trotting out their wares at the Maine Brewers Festival in Portland in November.
The book consists of more than 1,100 separate entries, presented in A to Z fashion. Some of them are surprising. I've always associated abbey beers with Trappist monks from Belgium, but wouldn't you know? There's no hard evidence abbey beers were actually brewed within the walls of a monastery. And what about Dr. Klaus Zastrow, who turned a Ph.D. in agricultural science from the Technical University in Berlin into several high-level posts at Anheuser-Busch? He ended his career as a lecturer and instructor in the Budweiser Beer School, where he helped teach members of the public the basics of the beer business.
There's a lot to it. It's far trickier, for example, to serve beer than wine. "Almost all beer contains some carbonation," the book tells us, "and unlike sparkling wine it generally forms a crown of foam. Getting beer into its glass with its carbonation intact and the correct volume of foam while achieving a nice visual presentation is an art form that takes some practice."
With microbreweries popping up right and left, and with consumers finally taking beer seriously, The Oxford Companion to Beer couldn't be timelier. It is the work of 166 experts from 20 countries. Garrett Oliver, who wrote many of the sections himself and assembled the rest into a guide that's fun and easy to handle, knows his business. He hosts tastings and gives talks around the world, appears regularly on radio and TV as a spokesman for the craft brewing industry. Beers created by Oliver have won national and international awards. He's currently brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, a respected brewery based in the borough that brought us Piel's, Rheingold, Schaefer, Schlitz, Trommer's and other ancient firms that produced the beers I cut my teeth on back in the Dark Ages.
--Lawrence A. Armour is deputy editor of custom content for Time, Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated.