Although it took two attempts separated by over a year for me to read the entirety of The Brewmaster’s Table, it was time very well spent. Garrett Oliver has written the best book I’ve read on beer and food pairing. In addition, it’s a fantastic introduction to how beer is made, including in depth discussions of the most important styles.
If you’re not a huge fan of beer, I recommend initially reading it quickly. The parts to skim quickly are the stories about the breweries that produce exemplars of each style. Then, use the book as a reference when you decide you’re ready to learn more about a specific beer style. Otherwise, I think the size of the book would be too daunting for the less serious fan.
One thing I didn’t get was his repeated attacks on pairing wine with food. If you haven’t had good wine with good food before, you might walk away thinking that the best wine pairings to most foods are just okay, and that there are only a few great pairings. While I do generally find it easier to pair beer with food, I’ve also had many great pairings of wine with food. Beer does have significant advantages in the wider variety of aroma, flavor, body, sourness (lots to none), bitterness, and alcohol content.
When my long threatened app for beer and food pairing is complete, there will be no doubt that it was influenced by ideas in The Brewmaster’s Table.