If you are planning to do Cicerone ceritfication and possibly even work on the BJCP certification there are a few good books out there to help you on your way. In my last book tour we talked about Beer for Dummies. Continuing along the same line, the next book to pick up for study is from Randy Mosher, Tasting Beer. The information contained in this one is huge. Even if you only have a passing interest in beer learning, this book is a god send (you can show off all kinds of geeky knowledge gleaned from the pages in this one).
Randy Mosher HB (HB is self titled Home Brewer) has three beer books to his name. The first two (the Home Brewer's Companion and Radical Brewing) are geared strongly toward home brewers. But this aside the history and information on brewing and beer in Radical Brewing alone is quite a bit to build your knowledge on beer and brewing. Now this brings us to Tasting Beer (2009). This one was a slight departure from brewing into pure appreciation.
With the growth of the brewing industry more information helps to understand what is now available. Mind you, beer is still enjoyable at the most simple levels but understanding why a beer tastes the way it does will help. This knowledge can save you from throwing out a Oud Bruin thinking it has gone bad because it does not taste like a Northern English Brown. Making distinctions like this can turn a bad experience into something a bit closer to trancendental.
One of my favorite parts of Mr. Mosher's books is the forms he has in them. Two that stand out for me: the flavor wheel and a tasting record. The flavor wheel is not something you fill out but when you are sampling it is quite handy for building a vocabulary to define the experience. If you spend any time around wine tastings you will already be familiar with this item. Tasting records are also nothing new. There are journals you can already buy designed specifically for wine tasting records. But then these may not be quite what you want when it comes to beer tasting. The page offered in the book is designed with the beer taster in mind.
Surprisingly, my personal copy of the book is still in pretty good shape. This is a reference book that you will return to again and again, gleaning a new bit of insight into the beer world each time.
Time for a pint...