Speaking of beer books, a comprehensive volume that examines every aspect of the beverage and the brewing process has just been published. "The Oxford Companion to Beer," a 960-page behemoth edited by Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver, is a veritable encyclopedia of beer, with more than 1,100 articles on every imaginable subtopic, from abbey beers to zymurgy. It has a list price of $65, though Amazon is selling it for $41. So far I've read only a tiny fraction of what's in this book, and already my beer education has taken great leaps forward (notably regarding the history of porter, the techniques of bottle conditioning, and the process of spontaneous fermentation). Now, some websites are claiming to find mistakes in the book, but any occasional errors are more than offset by the breadth and depth of knowledge this omnibus will impart. The mere fact that such a book has been published -- by Oxford University Press, no less -- demonstrates how far beer has come, and how far our culture has come in finally affording beer the same sort of respect that wine has long enjoyed.