The perfect present for the beer lover in your life?

Beer: A Gauge for Enthusiasts – Greg Duncan Powell

By Sara Schwarz
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Beer: A Gauge for Enthusiasts by Greg Duncan Powell

Beer: A Gauge for Enthusiasts by Greg Duncan Powell [©Murdoch Books]


Walking into your local alcohol warehouse these days, you are as likely to find yourself as overwhelmed at the beer fridge as you are in the maze of wine that surrounds it. If so, let me introduce you to your new best friend, Beer: A Gauge for Enthusiasts.

Beer is officially ‘in’. I guess beer has always been ‘in’, however the explosion of craft breweries across Australia in recent years along with an increase in imported beers, has made the average backyard BBQ a much more interesting place to be of late. Nowadays too, the big traditional brewers are jumping on the boutique bandwagon and even winemakers are getting in on the act.

Greg Duncan Powell, a professional wine taster and writer probably needs a good beer more than just about anyone. There’s nothing like a cleansing ale after a long day of tasting your way through a multitude of semillon, chardonnay and shiraz. It is also a little known fact that it takes a lot of beer to make a fine wine – as the pile of empty stubbies at the back of any winery will testify too. As such, Duncan Powell is in a perfect position to write this book.

This is the 2010 revised edition of Beer: A Gauge for Enthusiasts, originally publshed in 2008. I like the layout and design, which is straightforward and easy to follow. You can flick through it with ease or take your time to learn a bit more about how the world's most popular tipple is made. If so, like me, you are likely to find the chapters on ‘a short history of brewing’ and ‘how lager is made’, both entertaining and informative.

Over 170 beers are reviewed within – a number which barely dents the foam in the plethora of beer on the market and more than justifies the need for a book such as this. Each review is well laid out and follows an adapted wine review style. It is easy to follow with a good sized image and, along with a score out of 100, each beer is reviewed according to The Good, The Bad, Best for, Colour, condition and carbonation, Under the hood and Performance.

Duncan Powell seems to be a fairly rigorous reviewer with the highest score (95/100) given to the imported Pilsner Urquell – one added to my favourites list – and most beers seem to fall into 85 to 92 out of 100. 

The book also handily divides the reviews into five groups reflecting the garage / fuel theme of the book:

  • Standard –  everyday drinking from XXX to Coopers Pale Ale
  • Premium – imported and boutique beers
  • Diesel – stouts, porters and dark ales
  • Biofuels – ales, pale ales and wheat beers
  • Ethanol – lights, blondes and mid strength beers

So, who would this make a good present for?

As the style, language and design of the book are very much designed for the male market, really any beer-loving bloke in your life would appreciate a copy. Saying that, just as my partner has a habit of borrowing copies of my magazines, so too, I would happily spend an afternoon (and indeed did so) browsing through this book, reading up on the reviews of some old favourites while also noting down some new ales and pale ales (a personal favourite) to keep an eye out for.


I would have enjoyed learning a little more about the companies behind each beer. Some I know are large organizations while others are small, family-owned operations. Also, where each are located would have been good too.

Although I am well aware beer is generally produced in unromantic industrial compounds, from experience I know a few breweries such as Mountain Goat, Little Creatures and Red Hill Brewery to name a few, all have cellar door facilities and welcome visitors. Perhaps more information or even a web address for those you can visit would have been good to include .

A ‘top ten’ quick reference list would have been handy also.  

All in all, Beer: A Gauge for Enthusiasts is an fun, enjoyable read and a great present for any beer appreciating individual in your life.


Beer: A Gauge for Enthusiasts by Greg Duncan Powell is published by Murdoch Books (2010 RRP $29.95). and can be purchased via our book partners Seekbooks at 12.5% discount off RRP (postage extra).


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October 15th, 2010
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