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It's hard to write a truly excellent beer book, and I say this as someone whose bookshelf is buckling under the weight of loads of mediocre ones. Most books on the subject either assume a level of technical knowhow that renders them useless to anyone but homebrewers, or they hand-hold their readers to the extent that they're borderline insulting to anyone who can define the word "hoppy." Those books that successfully walk a middle ground, teaching new things to experts and coaxing along novices, become classics of the genre. Adem Tepedelen's Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers has definite classic potential.

The guide is co-presented by Decibel magazine, for whom Tepedelen has written a beer column since 2009, and it's ostensibly a book written for metalheads who love craft beer and hopheads who love metal. That's fair – each beer profiled in the book has some tenuous connection to heavy music, and the brewers and musicians interviewed certainly skew bearded – but Tepedelen's writing style doesn't require many prerequisites. What he promises is a book full of tasting notes about the most extreme iterations of the craft beer movement, and he delivers in spades. The book is broken into six sections, each themed around a different extreme element, from highly unusual ingredients to über-hopped beers with extremely high IBUs.

Tepedelen's greatest strength is realizing up front that beer is supposed to be fun and writing in a way that resembles the vibe of a great night at the bar. Each beer he writes about is given a musical pairing, and while they're sometimes exceptionally cheesy (Helloween for Avery's Rumpkin, a strong pumpkin ale, is among the more on-the-nose choices), they recall that invincible feeling when you're a few deep at the bar and "Master of Puppets" comes on the stereo. Metalheads and craft beer fans alike like to sniff each other out, and the nights when you make a drinking buddy who's both can become legendary. It's weird to say that prose can feel like a drunken night, but Tepedelen threads that needle.

Though it's just as effective as a reference book, the guide is a breezy front-to-back read at just over 200 pages, with the meat of the profiles broken up with plenty of sidebars and "extreme" interviews. (Side note: four of the six metal musicians Tepedelen speaks to are drummers – Brann Dailor, Dave Witte, Richard Christy, and Jean-Paul Gaster – so check your dumb drummer jokes at the door.) Tepedelen knows his beer and he wants you to know it, too.

Maybe the biggest compliment for any beer book is that you'll want to have it with you at the liquor store or the bar to cross-reference your choices. The Brewtal Truth Guide meets that criterion with ease. Pick it up and watch your Untappd wishlist bulge.

— Brad Sanders

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GREAT BEERS FROM THE BOOK:

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Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale

This brew resembles a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, but the red rice remnants still present in the bottom of the bottle tip you off that it's something a lot more unique. Tepedelen calls it "like nothing you've ever had before in your life," which is accurate. It brings a shocking amount of umami for its relative lightness, and the finish is dry, crisp, and perfect alongside a bowl of hot miso soup.

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Founders Devil Dancer

Triple IPAs don't really exist, but then, neither do Double IPAs, and those are an accepted style today. To bring the ABV all the way up to 13% and the IBUs around 100 (the maximum amount of hop bitterness the human tongue can detect), Founders had to bring the malt presence way up as well. The result is a beer that Tepedelen says "goes well beyond the typical characteristics of the style in nearly every way." It will also knock you on your ass.

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Stone Double Bastard

Stone's Greg Koch might come off as, erm, an arrogant bastard from time to time, but without him as one of its foremost advocates, craft beer might be symbolically stuck politely offering Sam Adams to dudes who drink Pabst. Double Bastard has no time for gateway drugs. It's a double-strength version of an already vicious American Strong Ale (Stone's flagship Arrogant Bastard), and as Tepedelen notes, it "treats your palate with a fair amount of contempt." That's OK; craft drinkers like it rough.

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