For millennia, beer has been a staple beverage in cultures across the globe. After water and tea, it is the most popular drink in the world, and it is at the centre of an over $450 billion industry. With the emergence of craft brewing and homebrewing, beer is experiencing a renaissance that is expanding the reach of the beer culture even further, bringing the art of brewing into homes and widening the interest in beer as an important cultural item. The Oxford Companion to Beer is the first reference work to fully investigate the history and vast scope of beer, from the agricultural makeup of various beers to the technical elements of the brewing process, local effects of brewing on regions around the world, and social and political implications of sharing a beer. Entries not only define terms such as <"spent grain>" and <"wort,>" but give fascinating details about how these and other ingredients affect a beer's taste, texture, and popularity. Cultural entries on such topics as drinking songs or beer gardens offer vivid accounts of how our drinking traditions have shifted through history, and how these traditions vary in different parts of the world, from Japan to Mexico, New Zealand, and Brazil, among many other countries. The pioneers of beer-making are the subjects of biographical entries; the legacies they left behind, in the forms of the world's most popular beers and breweries, are recurrent themes throughout the book. Collectively the Companion has over 1,100 entries--written by 150 of the world's most prominent beer experts--as well as a foreword by renowned chef Tom Colicchio (star of television's Top Chef), thorough appendices, conversion tables, images throughout, and an index. Flipping through the book, readers will discover everything from why beer was first taxed to how drinkers throughout history have overcome temperance movements and how an <"ale conner>" determined the quality of a beer in the thirteenth century. (It involved sitting in a puddle of beer.) The Companion is comprehensive, unprecedented, and of great value to anyone who has ever had a curiosity or appetite for beer.