Before I launch headlong into this review, I should state for the record that I am not a beer drinker although I have watched the growth of craft breweries in recent years with interest. The variety of beers available now means that everyone should be able to find a beer to their liking. So whilst I am not a copious consumer of the stuff I do enjoy a glass of beer which has a bit more about it than a freezing cold pint of lager. As a cook I am naturally drawn to the process behind making it. As someone with an interest in history I’m eager to learn the story behind this process. So I hoped that Brewing Britain would fulfil both of these quests.
What is the essence of the book?
Brewing Britain is a comprehensive guide to how beer is brewed and how best to appreciate it. It wisely sidesteps away from being overly technical but remains incredibly informative. From how to taste beers, brewing your own (including gruit ales) and identifying the best beer festivals and brewing shops in the country, Brewing Britain pretty much covers it all.
About the author
As a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers and CAMRA plus a host of drink accolades to his name, Andy Hamilton is definitely the right man to pen this book. As well as writing about it he also makes the stuff from farmed and foraged ingredients. Among his brewing recipes you will even find one for a hangover tea, which contains pine needles and calls to mind loo cleaner but having never tried it who am I to comment?
Who will like it?
Beer lovers (naturally), particularly those intrepid enough to want to make their own. If you are fairly new to the world of beer and want to learn more then this book would be a great place to start.
Who won’t like it?
If you can’t abide the stuff then you are unlikely to give this book space in your Amazon basket. Conversely, if you love drinking beer but really couldn’t give a fig about they whys and wherefores of its production then you’re probably not going to waste your valuable drinking time reading it.
What do I like about the book?
I like Andy’s informative style. He does a great job of conveying the technical information in an entertaining and easy to understand manner. I also love the fact that you can dip in and out of this book at leisure so there’s no reason to get technical beer overload.
What do I dislike about the book?
This is one is very personal to me but I would have loved to have seen a stand alone chapter on the history of beer. Andy does include snippets of historical information here and there (such as the use of herb bennet by the Benedictine monks in flavouring beer) which, for me, are really fascinating. As it stands Brewing Britain is a very good book it just didn’t quite tick all of my boxes.
Would I brew from it?
Yes, one day I would love to. I’ve tried fruit wines and now feel ready to progress onto beer. With Andy as my guide I’m sure it would be a breeze.
Where can you buy it?
Brewing Britain (Bantam Press) is available on Amazon from 18 June 2015 priced £9.99