The tube map has inspired authors Joe Dick and Nikki Welch as they put together their new book, The Pocket Guide to Beer, which is published later this week.
The book promises to demystify blackboards scrawled with unpronounceable names, and off-licence shelves towering with artful labels that give little clue to a bottle’s contents.
Beers are arranged by flavour profile along intersecting tube lines, in a manner reminiscent of London’s iconic underground map. The Aromatic Line, for example, starts in the world of lagers with Kölsch, travels through a busy central zone full of IPAs, before arriving in the outer reaches of wheat beers and lambics. Change at Golden Ale for bitters on the Central Line. Barley Wine is only open at weekends and on bank holidays.
The book is packed with no-nonsense tasting notes, historical facts and brewing methods, troubleshooting tips, and a useful glossary. The section on food pairings makes the audacious claim that beer brings as much, if not more, to the table as wine when served with the right dish. Beer’s umami bias gives a dish depth, while its carbonation cleanses the palate between mouthfuls.
Joe, a seasoned industry insider, said: “When working in bars I always prided myself on arming staff with knowledge bombs — succinct nuggets of knowledge they could drop into a conversation with a guest without overwhelming them or appearing too patronising and nerdy. It’s great to be able to share these with a wider audience in such an accessible format.
“My hope is that The Pocket Guide to Beer will be an essential tool for bartenders, salespeople and consumers, providing a foundation of knowledge to help them comfortably open new conversations. Most importantly, it’s about helping people drink more widely and discover new things.”
Nikki, who began her career in wine and who created the tube map concept, added: “Compared to a few years ago, there is an amazing selection of beers available, not just in specialist shops and beer bars, but in your local pub and supermarket too, with new ones popping up every week.
World of flavour
“When we created the map we wanted people to see that there was more out there than a choice between fizzy lager, hoppy IPA and (for most people) terrifyingly dark beer. Instead there’s a world of flavour, you just need to find your zone…
“Working with Joe to develop this map has completely opened my palate, so that I buy and order a much wider selection of beers, to suit my mood, what I’m eating, or just what’s on offer. By exploring a wider range of beers, not only are you treating your palate, but supporting a burgeoning local and seasonal craft scene.”
• The Pocket Guide to Beer is published by Birlinn on June 17 at £7.99 in paperback.