Oxford Companion to Beer
Pretty decent for someone with a more than a casual interest in beer to have all this info about beer in one book. But if you are a nitpicking beer historian who is upset that his suggestions weren't taken to heart, you might want to steer clear of it. ;-) Background here :http://beerblog.genx40.com/archive/20...
I thought the alphabetical layout is a bit disjointed and a little annoying when trying to read about topics, but thought the brewing technology, process, and ingredient descriptions were pretty good - although I would have liked to see them give yeast strains the same thorough treatment as hops strains. Most writers of the entries seemed to keep their own opinions out of most topics except for Garret Oliver himself, who took the opportunity to rally against growlers and "extreme beer" for example. As far as the historical content is considered, I have seen so much conflicting information in my readings about beer, its hard to judge who is correct and who is wrong - but most of the specifics don't really matter all that much to me anyway.
Overall I think it would make a nice Christmas gift for beer geeks of all levels.
I think that when a work that is touted as "authoritative", uncovering factual errors cant' be considered 'nitpiking'. There is a wiki online which lists some of the more glaring errors (and yes, a couple of 'nitpicky' ones as well).
Fortunately, the spirit of the website listing these errors and corrections is one of scholarship, and hopefully will serve as a resource for the publishers when it comes time for the hopefully corrected second edition.