IF you're into craft beers, really into them, sooner or later you're going to have to get a big black book titled "The Essential Reference of Domestic Brewers and Their Bottled Brands, 2nd Edition" (MC Basset, $47.50). Beer lovers Michael S. Kuderka and Catherine A. Ench-Kuderka have packed a huge amount of information into its 341 pages.
This new edition (the first was published last year) lists every domestic brewery, along with the beers it makes, twice -- alphabetically and by state -- giving the breweries' addresses, phone numbers and websites. It defines the major beer styles and then lists every example being made in the country today. A chart indicates the availability of each brewery by state.
The design of the book is sober and bare-bones. It's black and white except for a color key to the various beer styles (which also gives the bitterness range for each of them) and a short selection of brewery labels.
Bars, restaurants and liquor stores obviously need such a book, but so do craft beer lovers. How many times have you tasted a fascinating beer and forgotten the brewer's name, or been told about something special -- say, El Toro Brewing's Peach Ale, or Reaper Ale's Mortality Stout -- and not known where to find it? If the book doesn't have the answer, the brewer's website might offer just the help you need.