The Social Media Companion to The Oxford Companion of Beer 7

According to its publisher, The Oxford Companion to Beer is the first major reference work to investigate the history and vast scope of beer. The 960 page book features more than 1,100 entries written by 166 of the world’s most prominent beer experts.

As you can imagine, writing such an all-encompassing, comprehensive piece of work can be a daunting, if not impossible, challenge. And sadly, because its bold assertions come with high expectations, the book has been receiving quite a bit of criticism, even being called a disaster.

When I was in college, I took two back to back Astronomy courses. In the first class, scientists discovered that Pluto had a moon. By the time I got to the second class, Pluto was no longer a planet. The moral of the story? Science isn’t perfect, history is objective, and humans make errors. People will find errors in this book, some will fight over facts, and there will be lots of opinions thrown around. However, it does not take away from the fact that this awesome book is an extremely valuable piece of work for our beer culture and society in general.

And for those of us who are technological inclined (read: dependent), Oxford University Press released a series of very short YouTube videos featuring Garrett Oliver, the primary author of the Oxford Companion to Beer, talking about some of the topics covered in the book. I found the videos quite perfect, short, sweet, to the point, with interesting and relevant content, leaving me craving more information and desiring to read the book to get more answers. And because I enjoyed the videos, I would like to share them with you all. If you have 10 minutes today, take the time to watch them. Cheers!


What is “Craft Beer”?

Favorite Quote: “But to your average person, craft beer is beer that is particularly tasty”


The Rebirth of Beer Diversity

Favorite Quote: “What craft brewing really is is the rebirth of the diversity of beer.”

Inside the “Oxford Companion to Beer”

Favorite Quote: “Beer contains history, beer contains culture, and beer contains some of the more amusing moments of a lot of our lives.”


The Worldwide Craft Brewing Movement

Favorite Quote: “Craft beer is not really in some ways a new thing, but it is an evolving thing and it really takes in the entire world.”


The Science of Brewing

Favorite Quote: “A lot of things that you see around you became popular and necessary industrially because brewers needed it.”

Brewing in the Middle East

Favorite Quote: “Even places that no longer brew beer, like say Saudi Arabia, there was back in ancient times a beer culture.”


130-year-old Beer Tastes “Awesome”

Favorite Quote: “It tasted like a really beautiful old Madeira. It was really amazing.”

Why Beer is Better than Wine

Favorite Quote: “Beer has a much much wider range of flavor than wine does. In fact, it’s not even close. And the reason for this is actually quite simple. Brewing is a lot more closer to cooking than wine-making.”

About The Beer Wench

Ashley is a self-proclaimed craft beer evangelist & social media maven on a mission to advance the craft beer industry through education, inspiration and advocacy. She is currently the “Director of Awesomeness” at Bison Brewing in Berkeley, CA — where her responsibilities include everything from marketing, sales, PR, social media & events. Ashley is also a freelance consultant and professional speaker on the subjects of social media, beer mixology, food & beverage pairings. She is the founder of & as well as a regular contributor to

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7 thoughts on “The Social Media Companion to The Oxford Companion of Beer

  • Lisa

    And it’s like anything that’s peer-reviewed – it really depends who the reviewers are, and how much time they actually have to do the work. I recognize that certain errors that are huge to me (e.g. the nitpicky archaeological ones that no one else without a few archaeology degrees is ever going to mind) are not going to be very big deals in the grand scheme of things, and like any reference work, it’s going to evolve over time.

    It’s really nice to see a publisher put together these videos to accompany the book launch – I’ve always found it somewhat ironic that academic publishers (some of whom I’ve worked for in the past) are much more forward-thinking than the huge for-profit one (name redacted) that I work for at present.

  • John

    Especially after reading the rebuttals to Oliver’s comments on criticism, I definitely don’t think people have been overly harsh. Not only are myths being perpetuated as scholarly research, Oliver has shown a lack of care in how history is presented in his, “just because I can’t point to evidence, they had to be making mead, etc. People were fermenting whatever they could get their hands on!” rebuttal.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how the beer community errata wiki unfolds.


    Thanks for the Youtube links… I think the Oxford Companion is a great piece of reference, but with everything this big there will be criticism (and some of it is warranted (for sure)). It was a huge undertaking to put it together and I am glad I own it.

  • erica

    “Beer contains history, beer contains culture, and beer contains some of the more amusing moments of a lot of our lives.”……so true

  • Gordon Ryan

    I think you nailed it in your assertion that this book is a leap forward for the craft industry, its community, and its culture. I don’t think anyone is trying to say that the information in the book is to be taken as a sort of coda and to be honored as the source of our collective beer knowledge. But it does serve to demonstrate to the world that there is a thriving passion for the art and craft of beer and that intelligent, creative people have taken it upon themselves to become among the most passionate.

    The videos, as you mentioned, are fantastic. Mr. Oliver is, of course, a charismatic guy, so he’s certainly a pleasure to hear from.