A Baedeker of beer here and abroad and a barrel of related trivia: a freewheeling look at the third (after water and tea) most popular drink in the world. Abel does the pub crawl through numerous American cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee, among others), telling what's on tap and what they offer besides unusual labels--original Thurber drawings or sawdust on the floor or great Irish soda bread. He favors the flavorsome variety of foreign brews to the better-selling but undistinguished Budweiser and Schlitz and will always try a local beer despite the uneven odds. Drinking habits today and in the past (Egypt, the guilds of Munich), recipes (including Welsh Rarebit and chocolate cake), the Coors mystique (inaccessibility and natural ingredients), the supremacy of London pubs and Irish drinkers: all are related in a genial tone just right for the material. As organized as a barroom conversation, as lasting as a ten-minute head, but easy company for an evening.