This book began as an outline for a two-day class I teach for the Siebel Institute in Chicago. The course was intended as an immersive introduction to the world of beer, snd the book follows that format, introducing the reader to all aspects of beer, from its long and fascinating history to vocabulary and styles, with much more in-between. Since its publication in 2009, it has become a standard text on beer, selling more than 200,000 copies.

After some time, it seemed to be a good idea to start working on a revised and expanded version. Not only has the industry changed, but so has my own understanding, especially in the sensory area. And since it has become the go-to book for people studying for their Cicerone exams, it made sense to adjust my content to match theirs a little better and also let them review the text before publication.

Launched in April 2017, the new book is about 25 percent bigger. What's in there?  A lot more vocabulary items and much more about the neurobiology of our sensory systems. The beer and food chapter is rewritten entirely, and book now includes information on draft systems. As styles have evolved, those need to be covered, and I switched over to the BJCP standards for style specifications, since that seems to be the standard now.

I have tried to add as much illustrated content as possible, as I personally feel this really aids learning and shows relationships that are hard to describe with just text.

Aroma Spiral. It was time for the old "Flavor Wheel" to go. This does a better job of laying out the full range of aromas than can be encountered in modern craft beers. it is expanded by a series of more detailed vocabulary charts in the book.

The publisher added a lot of great new photos and generally spiffed up the appearance as well.

I tried to dig deep to help people understand the ingredients that play such important roles in beer flavor and mouthfeel.

This Malt Flavor Wheel graphically shows the relationships between malt type, color and flavor.

Circular "spider charts" have been standard for years in sensory industries, and help make understanding of complex ingredients like hops easier.

The spider diagram on the left breaks down the various aromas of hops into seven broad groups. The lines in the center are intended to be used to scale each characteristic on a one to five scale, creating a unique shape for each hop variety.

There is an expanded section on beer cocktails, including a fun mix'n'match chart for easy brunch beer cocktails

Who should buy this book? With its structured information, easy-to digest writing style and rich visual appeal, Tasting Beer has become the go-to guide for everyone who wants to learn about beer or needs to connect the dots of their existing beer experience to create a complete, coherent picture of this amazing drink.

Tasting Beer is recommended by the Cicerone program for those pursuing one of their certifications. It is also the only book on beer recommended by the International Court of Wine Sommeliers. 


For everyone who has known the pleasure of a pint, Randy Mosher explores and explains the tasting experience, guiding readers to a better understanding of how every batch of beer is affected by recipe formulation, brewhouse procedures, yeasts, fermentations, carbonation, filtration, packaging, and much more. Readers will learn to identify the scents, colors, flavors, and mouth-feel of all the major beer styles. There are also chapters on proper serving and storage conditions, and classic beer and food pairings. Finally, the book includes a style-by-style compendium of the different brews within major beer families, including American craft brews, British lagers, German ales, and Belgian Dubbels. For each style, Mosher includes historical and regional facts, taste and aroma characteristics, seasonal availability, food pairings, and a few terrific recommendations for readers to sample.


Stan Heironymous' Appellation Beer (One of the best beer blogs around, Stan is also a writer of the highest caliber. His books are highly recommended by me. 

Powell's City of Books Review-A-Day


Beer of Tomorrow's review of the Inkling electronic version



Foreword by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery


Chapter 1: The Story of Beer

            What is Beer?

            Beer in Context

            A Widespread Product

            Diet and Nutrition

            A Cultural Property

            A Little Beer History

Chapter 2: Sensory Evaluation

            Physiology and Psychology

            Why Taste Beer?

            Various Formats for Tastings

            The Sense of Taste

            Aroma and Olfaction


            Psychological Factors


            Tasting Techniques

Chapter 3: Brewing and the Vocabulary of Beer Flavor

            Why Should You Care?

            Malting and Malt types

            Mashing and Lautering

            Boiling and Hops

            Wort Chilling

            Yeast and Fermentation

            Post Fermentation


            A word about Real Ale


            The Flavor Wheel

Chapter 4: The Qualities of Beer

            By the Numbers or Not?

            Original Gravity









Chapter 5: Tasting, Judging, and Evaluation

            The Tasting Environment

            Tasting Glasses

            Tasting Procedures

            Tips for a Great Tasting

Chapter 6: Presenting Beer

            Serving and Storing Beer

            Ideal Conditions

            Checklist for a Well-Served Beer

            Serving Temperature

            A Proper Pour

            Beer Glasses Through History

            The Physics of Glassware

            Which Glass for Which Beer?

            Storing Beer

            Ideas for Beer Tastings

Chapter 7: Beer and Food

            Why Beer & Food?

            A Fail-Proof Pairing Plan

            Beer with Various Types of Food

            Staging a beer Dinner

Chapter 8: Anatomy of a Style

            Why Have Styles?

            The Forces Behind Beer Styles

            Elements of a Style

            When styles don’t matter

Chapter 9: British Ales

Chapter 10: The Lager Family

Chapter 11: Europe: Continental Ales, Weissbiers, and Ale-Lager Hybrids

Chapter 12: The Beers of Belgium

Chapter 13: Craft Beer

Chapter 14: A Sip Beyond

            Further Reading on Beer Styles, Flavors, History, and More

            A Glossary of Beer and Brewing Terms


Original Foreword by Sam Calagione, Owner, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and author of Brewing Up a Business, Extreme Brewing, and He Said Beer She Said Wine.

 When I met Randy Mosher he was coming at me with a hammer in his hand and a maniacal smile on his face. It was at Chicago’s Real Ale Festival in 1998 and he was helping prepare casks of unfiltered, unpasteurized, naturally carbonated real ale for serving.  

His enthusiasm was infectious, as lively as the beers contained in those casks.  I have gotten to know Randy better and better in the last five years as we both serve on the board of directors of the Brewer’s Association. He earned his seat at the table representing the American Homebrewer’s Association – but in time it became apparent that his perspective, knowledge, and passion encompassed the whole wide world of beer: pro, amateur, enthusiast and beyond.  Randy is a true beer evangelist. In this book, and in all aspects of his beer-soaked life, he is saving souls one pint at a time.

The brewing industry is altruistic and mutually supportive to a degree I have never seen in traditional business segments. That’s probably because we know that we almost lost the vibrancy and diversity of our American beer culture and we are fighting hard to never let that happen again. At its low-point in the 1970s America had less than 100 commercial breweries, mostly making slightly different versions of generic light lager. Today there are over 1400 commercial brewers in America, hundreds of thousands of homebrewers, and millions of hardcore beer enthusiasts. While I’m proud of the accomplishments of my professional brewing brethren it’s really this last group who has carried the day. Without large marketing budgets small brewers are succeeding only because a growing number of beer lovers have gotten behind our efforts and educated themselves on 1) what makes a great beer, 2) where to find them and 3) how best to enjoy them.  

Tasting Beer tackles beer with just enough technical and scientific information to explain the experience but not so much that the beer-novice feels overwhelmed. Randy doesn’t preach his personal preferences here. He celebrates the fact that our individual palates are as unique as snowflakes. If we all liked the same beer there would only be one style that worked for everyone, and well, we’ve been there. Tasting Beer is like many fine books bound together.  Beer history? It’s in here. The science of brewing, the disciplines of tasting and evaluation, beer styles, food and beer, beer terminology—it’s ALL in here. It’s an imperial pint full of knowledge as Randy’s cup runneth over. I am hopeful that Tasting Beer will find a home with professionals in addition to beer enthusiasts. I can think of no better single tool for brewers, bartenders, sommeliers, chefs, salespeople and everyone else in the beer trade for enhancing their beer IQ. 

Despite the fact that beer’s history is as ancient as wine’s and that there are more styles of beer with more different ingredients leading to more flavors than wine, beer still considered a less complex beverage by too many foodies and connoisseurs. Randy helps to dispel this myth in Tasting Beer. Much of the beer sold throughout the world is some slight variation on the light lager style, but Randy points out that centuries before the Reinheitgebot, beers were being brewed with diverse ingredients such as honey, bog myrtle, cranberries, and coriander. Craft breweries today have reinvigorated this ancient tradition of spices, herbs, sugars, and fruits and more. Randy gives equal time to all the diverse, exciting beers that drinkers are trading up to, both the exotic eccentrics as well as the popular classic styles. As international beer culture evolves, the brewers of these exciting craft beers are achieving growth and recognition disproportionate to that of the industrial, conglomerate light beer producers.  In reading this book it is easy to see why.   Beer culture is tremendously diverse, distinguished, and nuanced. As Randy writes, “Like any art beer needs a proper context to be compelling.” Tasting Beer gives us this context in spades.  Drink up as you read up on the world’s most storied and beloved adult beverage.  Cheers.

Foreword to 2nd Edition by Ray Daniels, Founder of the Cicerone Certification Program and author of Designing Great Beers and Smoked Beers: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes (With Geoff Larson).

The first edition of Tasting Beer came out in 2009, one year after I developed and founded the Cicerone Certification Program, which launched in early 2008. I soon started recommending it to those looking for a text to guide their studies for the first level Cicerone exam, Certified Beer Server.

Over the years, the connection between Cicerone and Tasting Beer has continued, so much so that some people think Randy and I coordinated to create a text that would serve the program’s needs. This is not the case. Rather, it is a happy coincidence that our paths through beer led us to create complimentary offerings at about the same time. Cicerone challenges beer professionals to learn about their beverage and its culture. Randy’s Tasting Beer addresses the questions posed by every student of beer and in the process provides an excellent text to aid in the journey.

This second edition of Tasting Beer expands coverage of some key topics that relate to the Cicerone journey beyond the first level, such as draft systems. In addition, I find that the integrated understanding of beer that this edition presents would serve those studying for just about any level of Cicerone program exam.  Any candidate who has not read Tasting Beer for a few years, would be well advised to read this edition. The connections and insights it offers will help you organize and integrate all the details you learn from a variety of sources into a more cogent and nuanced understanding of beer.

For those studying for the first level Certified Beer Server exam, I would recommend you use the syllabus available on cicerone.org to help you determine which sections of Tasting Beer to focus on. For Certified Cicerone, nearly the entire text of Tasting Beer becomes important although some details still go beyond the depth required for the second level exam. Those studying for Advanced and Master Cicerone can assume that everything covered in these pages will serve them well.

But Tasting Beer goes much further than just knowledge. Its organization and presentation telegraph the decades that Randy has spent thinking about beer. The broad spectrum of his thoughtful studies has led him to understand answers to questions that those with a more focused view have never thought to ask. As a result, he possesses—and presents—an uncommon understanding of the full universe of beer.

And here’s the best part: given the depth of his exploration and the sheer volume of knowledge he presents, you might expect this text to be weighty and ponderous. Such is not the case. Indeed, Randy writes with a precise but conversational voice. The resulting text could not be easier to read. And his long professional experience in presenting information graphically comes to the fore in a variety of illustrations that illuminate the subject in ways that words alone could never do.

The true magic of Randy’s work comes in insights, in a seasoned understanding of how the many facts about beer connect in complex and varied ways to create this living, breathing thing that we capture with the simple word “beer.”  Whether you literally wish to learn more about tasting or simply hope to garner a basic understanding of beer, Tasting Beer will satisfy your thirst in a readable and memorable way.

In addition to the original English-language version, Tasting Beer has been published in Italian, Traditional Chines, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Korean and Japanese; a Ukrainaian edition is in the works.

We are currently seeking publishers in other languages (especially Portuguese!), so if you are associated with a publisher of wine or beer books, cookbooks or similar topics, please contact me we can put you in touch with the appropriate person at Storey Publications.
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC; Original edition (February 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603420894
ISBN-13: 978-1603420891
Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds