Say this about Janet Fletcher, the lady knows her cheese. In addition to writing a weekly column on cheese for the San Francisco Chronicle, she’s authored numerous books on cheese including the “The Cheese Course”, “The Cheese Tasting Party Kit” and “Cheese & Wine”. The Napa-based food writer has earned three James Beard Awards and the IACP Bert Green Award, and now ventures into new territory with her latest book, “Cheese & Beer”. Sure, she knows plenty about cheese. But does she know beer?
I’d say she does. Judging from her book, it appears she’s enjoyed many fine brews when her wine friends aren’t looking. Or maybe they drink more beer up in Napa than we think. Either way, her book is a very complete, well researched guide to pairing any beer with good cheese. It’s clear from the pages that cheese is her main passion, given so much detail she shares on different cheeses and the cheese making process. But that shouldn’t detract from all the good advice she gives on virtually every available style of beer and how to pair them with cheese. I also like the fact she gives equal attention to sessional beers styles such as Bitters as she does to the stronger (and arguably wine-like) Belgian Ale or Barley Wine styles. Writing about beer effortlessly, with a very matter of fact treatment, her writing is a refreshing contrast to other works that treat beer as the “new wine” or as some hot new thing. There’s an enjoyment of beer that’s palpable from each page.
|One of Ed Anderson’s fine images from
“Beer & Cheese”.
The book is organized by various beer styles. Each style is introduced in Fletcher’s own words, followed by a discussion on pairing each style with cheese, and concluding with Fletcher’s cheese pairing recommendations. A useful cheese pairing table can be found at the end. As a cheese ignoramus, I found this to be a useful guide to navigate through the sometimes baffling world of cheese.
Photographer Ed Anderson delivers vibrant photos throughout the book, bringing the subject matter alive.
“Cheese & Beer” is now hitting the bookstore shelves, and Janet Fletcher is embarking on a book signing tour. I suspect this book will resonate more with wine lovers looking for an entry point to explore great beer, than with beer drinkers looking for a way to discover fine cheese. But craft beer aficionados looking to further their appreciation of beer will find no better book.
(Andrews McMeel Publishing provided a copy of “Cheese & Beer” for this review.)