A couple of months ago, Evan Rail, a Prague-based writer of considerable merit, self-published a long essay — or mini-book, whichever you prefer — entitled “Why Beer Matters.” Well, “published” might not be quite the correct word, as it was and remains available in only e-book form, purchasable through Amazon for a mere $1.99.
I read Mr. McL’s review of it and was suitably impressed, but not to the point that I was willing to go out and get an ereader in order to view the thing. (I hate reading lengthy missives on my computer screen. Something to do with spending too much time in front of it on a daily basis, I think.) Some weeks later, I had reason to email Evan, who I have never met but have in the past communicated with electronically, and mentioned in passing his work, after which he kindly sent me a review copy in PDF.
And then it sat on my hard drive. And sat. And sat.
Until, this morning, I decided to finally print it out and read the damn thing! I’m glad I did, and you should be, too.
Because, ladies and gentlemen, I am now here to tell you that procuring and reading Mr. Rail’s 22 page treatise is the best use you’ll make of two dollars this year! It will make you smile; it will make you think; unless you’re a stuck-in-the-mud bore, it will make you nod your head in agreement; it will make you want to jump on a plane to go somewhere for the express purpose of drinking beer; it will make you want to track down the author’s favourite Prague pub so you can raise a glass with him; it will make you happy to be a beer aficionado; it will make you dismayed that you have not sampled more of what the world of beer has to offer; and above all, it will make you thirsty.
What’s it about, you might ask? Well, the answer is in the title, but at the same time that is more the take-off point than the complete raison d’être. “Why Beer Matters” is about more than just why beer matters, it’s also about what makes beer important, how it relates to our modern world, why we are able to derive such pleasure from it, and pivotally, why we all probably take it all a wee bit too seriously. Add to all that Rail’s winning style and wit and you have a most engaging bit of prose.
For two bucks you can buy a bottle of water on a sunny day, a glass of beer during Happy Hour at a disreputable bar, or scratch-and-lose lottery card, none of which I’m betting will deliver the enjoyment of “Why Beer Matters.” So just buy it, okay?