So as to avoid any 2-year-old-smoking-boy type controversy, I will refrain from showing a picture of my son with his snoot in a beer glass. But, truth be told, he does like to take a whiff —that means smell, NOT taste—of what his dad is drinking. And, as detailed in my Brewtal Truth column in the June issue of Decibel, he likes to look at my various beer books, pointing out all the brews Daddy likes (Avery!) and doesn't like (Budweiser!).
Though he hasn't given it a thorough flip-through yet, I know he's going to enjoy The Beer Trials by Seamus Campbell and Robin Goldstein as much as I did. Aside from the usual basic information about beer styles and beer terminology, this 300+ page book features reviews/ratings of 250 beers from around the world—everything from Bud Light to Czechvar. The ratings are from 1-10 (though strangely there is nothing lower than a 3 or higher than a 9) and were done by a panel of Portlandites who tasted the beers blind and against other beers in their similar style. So, for instance, MGD wasn't rated against North Coast's Old Rasputin. It was rated as to its, ahem, quality as a pale American lager.
I liked the fact that the information about the beer accompanying the rating was generally good and presented in an irreverent, somewhat snarky way, but the comments on the label/bottle design were, for the most part, just pointless. Another slightly annoying thing was the constant complaints about the beers in the green and clear bottles being lightstruck. Because they rated so many beers sold in green or clear bottles (which allow light to enter and basically negatively affect the beer) the reader is constantly reminded these bottles are bad for storing beer for more than like 30 seconds. We get it! Perhaps the authors should have simply said at the beginning, "basically all beers we rate that are in green or clear bottles will be lightstruck to some degree, so let the buyer/consumer beware." Then they could have simply noted in the rating when the tasters detected it, rather than continually grousing about it. It really gets old.
Other than that, this is a good resource, and I like the way they established their ratings. I'll definitely use this as a reference for many years to come. Hopefully there will be updates and future editions.