Thursday 19 January 2012

I must not go OCD over the OCB

I've been a bit of a beer bore recently. "Nothing new there I hear you say", but more than usual anyway, though a hop bore would be more precise. I really need to give it a bit of rest, and get out for some fresh air.

But having said that there's always more to learn about beer, and as I now own the Oxford Companion to Beer I have been dipping into it. The book caused some controversy amongst my fellow internet beer nerds when it came out, and it was suggested you should wait for the second edition before getting a copy. But I couldn't be doing with waiting for years so I got a copy for xmas.

Most of the criticism focused on some of history parts that were, quite frankly, a bit rubbish. From the few articles I've looked at I wouldn't say the book is rubbish, though it's not brilliant either, it's more a mixed bag of the good and the bad jumbled up.

There are articles from world class experts: when you see they've got Geoff Palmer writing about the aleurone you know they've not only got an expert, but the right expert. Some of the articles are not so good though, in fact they look like they've been written after a quick google. The editing looks decidedly ropey in places too: there's an entry for Corn (maize) but further on there's an entry for Maize (corn) by a different author. And I've spotted one absolute howler, which I'm sure will shock you as much as it shocked me, when it says Staphylococcus and Clostridium are Gram negative. That one got me ranting, oh yes.

I have joined the wiki that was set up to comment on the book so I can point out the things I've spotted but I really do have more important things to be getting on with. Like obsessing about the origin of hop varieties.


  1. Hi Ed - I would suggest that obsessing about the origin of particular hop varieties is dangerous and will lead to no good. Once you start you can't stop.

    The Staphylococcus-Clostridium-Gram negative entry makes you wonder how those things happen.

  2. I know what you mean Stan, but there's strength in numbers - one of your posts that has a list including all the goldings varieties has been a great help to me.

    As to the mistakes in the OCB, dare I say it, the problem is poor editing.

    1. We in NZ were a touch bemused that our not insignificant craft beer scene was reduced to one sentence : "New Zealand has a vibrant craft beer industry with approximately 50 breweries covering almost all geographies"

      Perhaps not surprising considering that was written by an Australian Macro brewer but pretty bad none the less.