In a barn in Somerset, plans are afoot to ferment a beer-cider hybrid with wild yeast that blows on the wind, while in Yorkshire an almost extinct style of ‘salty ’n’ sour’ wheat beer is being resurrected for the 21st century. Fifty years ago, this would have seemed impossible.
Back then the prospects for British beer looked weak, sweet, bland and fizzy, as colossal combines took over the industry, closing local breweries and putting profit before palate. Yet today the number of breweries is at a post-war high, with over a thousand in operation. Whether you drink traditional, CAMRA-approved ‘real ale’ or prefer a super-strong, fruit-infused, barrel-aged Belgian-style ‘saison’, you are spoilt for choice.
In Brew Britannia acclaimed beer bloggers Boak and Bailey tell the story of a very British fightback. Following a cast of bloody-minded City bankers, hippie microbrewers, style gurus, a Python, and a lot of men in pubs, they reveal how punter power pulled the humble pint back from the brink.
JESSICA BOAK and RAY BAILEY have been blogging about beer at boakandbailey.com since 2007, inspired by an eye-opening trip to Nuremberg. They have written articles for the Campaign for Real Ale and the Brewery History Society, among others. They live in Penzance, Cornwall.
'Well written - but I'd expect no less from them - and with loads of good stories about the individuals who drove the quest for better beer. It kept me entertained even while my arse was aching from hours of sitting'
'I haven’t devoured a book about beer so quickly and enjoyably since five years ago, when I read Pete Brown’s own social history of beer ... sneaking off to read a couple of chapters in every lunch break... The authors succeed in telling a story of fascinating and human characters'
'The vast amount of research that went into it is very apparent, with a wide array of documentary evidence cited, as well as first-person interviews with almost all the main characters, providing never-before-seen information and viewpoints... For a history book set mostly in my own lifetime on a subject I'm very interested in, I can point out almost no omissions'
'An excellent read!'
'[Boak and Bailey] – like all good historians – are keen to go back to original sources. They speak to the people who were there at the time, the movers and the shakers in this remarkable renaissance of British beer'
'Brew Britannia is an excellent book; investigative, frank, even-handed and, above all, vital to both the beer geek and the neophyte alike'
'Brew Britannia has, in exploring the past, got me thinking about the future – but aside from all of that, it's a bloody enjoyable and interesting read, and one which I will dip back into for reference time and time again'
'Buy this book. It is one of the strongest and most entertaining bits of writing about good beer that has come out in recent years'
'It is an excellent and enjoyable book which really is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the development of the specialist beer market in Britain over the past forty years'
'For anyone interested in beer's modern renaissance, it’s a quirky, comprehensive read, filled both with obscure information and more essential facts’
'It’s not just a great book, it’s an important one for the time we live in. My advice is: don’t wait a few years before reading it. The lessons that can be learned from Brew Britannia are best appreciated right now'
'Where the book excels, is in the pulling together of a non-linear story of change into a narrative of characters, key people and events. Those that are familiar with the story, and those that are not, and those that have even the most passing interest in British beer and brewing will equally find it fascinating and educational'
'One of the most important books on beer to be released in the last ten years. If you're even remotely into beer I would advise picking up a copy immediately and getting stuck in straight away'
'A meticulously researched, detailed account of the ‘rebirth’ of British beer, and how a continual parade of enthusiasts, professional and amateur, helped get British brewing back on its feet... tremendous'
'This is an exhilarating read, well researched, in the main objective, and encompassing the views of many important players in the great beer revival of the past 40 years'
'A fascinating tale of peculiarly British pluck and pioneering spirit, all washed down with lots of great beer'
'We need this account, in this form, if we are to fully understand where beer is today, how it got here, and from there, to start to speculate about where it might go next... this is a book that I wish I had written, but was beaten to by people who have in many ways done a far better job than I would have'
‘An excellent guide to the journey British beer has taken in the past half-century, well worth reading whether you lived through it or not, simply to understand where we are now’
'Brew Britannia is a fascinating odyssey through the last half-century of British beer and I would recommend this without a moment’s thought'
'The narrative bounces along and is hard to put down -- a thoroughly interesting read.'
'Brew Britannia is informed, funny, well researched and eminently readable'
'a very welcome addition to the national beer library... Brew Britannia is a well-researched, easily-readable pleasure deserving of the attention of a wider readership than keen beer drinkers.'