Barley Mowat 

Extreme Reading

without comments

Got a beer snob on your Xmas shopping list, and are running out of ideas? Assuming that special someone is at least partially literate, you could plausibly pick up a copy of Adem Tepedelen’s The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers. This 208-page, picture-heavy, full colour tome is a veritable encyclopaedia of craft brewing’s obsession with redefining the edges of what qualifies as “beer.” Page after page yields beautiful, well laid out summaries of rare or interesting beers, and a detailed review of each.

What this isn’t, per se, is a book. Blurbs on individual beers rarely last more than a single page, and occasionally interviews with metal musicians are thrown in because… well, because Adem writes the Brewtal Truth column for Decibel Magazine, and it’s on theme, that’s why. The end result is a more like a series of beer/music pamphlets loosely collected around a single theme than anything that could be confused with The Great Gatsby (which is a book, not a movie, dammit).

The highlighted beers are chosen for one or more extreme qualities, like extremely high ABV, containing more hops than eight lesser brews, or a desire to kidnap the Reinheitsgebot, shoot it in the head, and dump the body out in the woods somewhere. What beers are not chosen for is quality (many of the highlighted beers are virtually undrinkable, with the occasional great one thrown in for spice), but let’s face it, a 200-odd page book that does nothing but blather on about how awesome the beers contained are, and how the author got to drink them (and you likely never will) wouldn’t exactly be a good read now, would it?

The mini-summaries of each beer are fairly well written; Adem has more literary talent than many other beer columnists out there and it definitely comes through in the prose. Even Adem’s talent for spinning a yarn, though, doesn’t make up for the main drawback of this book: it’s a top ten list in print form (okay, fine, a top ~200 list), and it reads like one. Don’t fool yourself, reading about a single beer will be great fun, but reading the whole book cover to cover just isn’t a thing you’ll do in one sitting, if ever.

Ultimately, though, I like this book. Adem’s reviews aren’t critical (he seems to like most of the beers, including the obnoxious Rogue Voodoo Maple Donut), but finding beers you like isn’t what this book is about. Rather, this book is a great source for beers that will instill in you the same core urge which drives you to smell the long-expired milk: raw, morbid curiosity.

In short, is it worth a damn? Yes.


Zero points for cover design–sorry Adem, but this is ugly.

Buy it now: Amazon: $16.02 ($9.99 Kindle), iBooks: $11.99, Chapters: $15.85 ($10.79 for Kobo)

Written by chuck

December 17th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Beer and You

Tagged with

Leave a Reply