Saturday 12 March 2011

Recent Beer Reading

I’ve been nose-deep in a few good beer books recently... And a few good non-beer books, too...

Travels with Barley by Ken Wells is his search for the perfect beer joint, choosing the Mississippi as his rough guide but also diverting around the US. Wells is a beer fan but not yet a beer geek and it’s a fascinating journey into the microcosm of bar life and bar flies around the US. I definitely recommend it – the chapter on Budweiser’s hop farm is worth it alone.

Andy Crouch’s Great American Craft Beer is a guide to the finest beers and breweries in the US and I like it a lot. It’s got a simple design, it’s colourful and colourfully written, making it engaging and fun to read with some of the best tasting notes I’ve read in a long time plus interesting introductions to each style. There’s also some history and some food and beer, which is also good. Thirsty reading!

The Longest Crawl by Ian Marchant is the best beer book I’ve read since Hops and Glory. It’s the story of the journey between Britain’s most southerly and northerly pubs and it’s fuelled with fun, lots of beer, too many drugs and many unforgettable characters. It’s fantastically written and one of those which, as someone who wants to write a book like this, makes me realise that I’ve got a way to go until I’m ready to write something like this. Read it!

Beer is Proof God Loves Us by Charles Bamforth is largely autobiography weaved with history and science and philosophy and it makes for a good read – different to all the other beer books out there in that it makes you look a little differently at the industry given Bamforth’s wide experience.

Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks might not be a beer book but it starts with a few beers and it punctuated with them throughout. It’s also a fantastic bit of travel writing – funny, engaging, charming, heart-warming and booze-filled.

And I don’t think I’ve mentioned The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit yet but if you haven’t bought it then you should. I love it. It’s the sort of book that I want to read forever in the hope that I will somehow discover the secret to how she writes so well. It’s about flavour combinations, there’s weird and wonderful recipes throughout and I’ve never read nicer similes in my life.

Anyone read any good beer books recently? (Or just any good books in general?! I’m always looking for things to line my bookshelves!)


  1. Reading home brew books at the moment, as well as The Local by Paul Jennings which so far is excellent.

    These are punctuated by Amsterdam by Ian McEwan (short and brilliantly written) and Gabriel Chevalier's Clochmerle and The Affairs of Flavie, both riddled with the microscopic human passions and behaviours that make us what we are.

    Picked up some cracking football books recently too but I won't bore you with those mate!

  2. Good to see Travels With Barley mentioned, a brilliant read, Maureen Ogle’s Ambitious Brew is excellent as well.

  3. ive just got richard fox's cooking with beer, so working my way though that. other than that not reading any beer books at the moment, got plenty that ive read and some still to read on the shelf tho.

  4. Dominic, Thornbridge13 March 2011 at 16:22

    Currently re-reading 'Brewing Yeast and Fermentation' by Dr Boulton and Dr Quain, and also 'Brewing Microbiology' by Priest and Campbell. They're both excellent and I recommend them both highly. But then I am studying for my IBD exams...

    I agree with you on the Flavour Thesaurus - every aspiring foodie should own a copy!

  5. Mark - Haven't read The Local, do you recommend it?

    ATJ - I like Maureen Ogle's book a lot. The history of US beer is a very interesting topic! Pre-prohibition, in particular.

    Andy - I've recently got that myself and I like it. Lots of simple but delicious ideas! I tried the beer mayo which was good.

    Dom - Sounds like perfect bedtime reading for a hardcore beer geek!!

  6. the only thing ive done from it so far mark is the beer mash and that was pretty tasty.

    bargain for a couple of quid off ebay.

  7. I do recommend The Local. I have to say I have been bogged down in it but that's my own fault for not keeping up the momentum. Same thing happened with Deep Simplicity and Sequence (DNA etc), none of which are easy to just pick up where you left off...

    I also do the opposite of recommending the Castle by Kafka. Life simply isn't long enough to endure the tedium of that, hours I will never get back...

  8. If you want some fiction with your beer try Last Orders by Graham Swift. Four men in a pub accompanied by their friend's ashes and the story of his send-off. Not one of his best novels (that's Waterland) but worth a read.