Brew Britannia: the strange rebirth of British beer an entertaining account of how British beer got its mojo back after the low point of the 1960s and 70s, packed with facts, stories and eccentric characters.
If you’ve got even a passing interest in beer, or British cultural history, we’re sure you’ll enjoy it — we worked hard to ensure it’s both rigorous and readable.
It’s also the perfect father’s day, mother’s day, Christmas or birthday gift for the beer-lover in your life.
Buy it with some beer
We helped the Beer Hawk online beer shop put together a special case of beers which comes with a copy of the book. It includes a set of notes which explain how each beer fits into the story, and we even suggest which beers to drink with which chapter.
And here’s what the critics have to say…
“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 it by people who have done a better job than I would have.” Pete Brown
“…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.” Matt Curtis
“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.” Ron Pattinson
“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.” Roger Protz
“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 Beer Prole
“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.” The Beer Nut
“A fascinating tale of peculiarly British pluck and pioneering spirit, all washed down with lots of great beer.” Zak Avery
“Brew Britannia is a fascinating odyssey through the last half-century of British beer and I would recommend this without a moment’s thought.” Adrian Tierney-Jones
“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.” Tandleman
“[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.” Jeff Evans
“Brew Britannia is an excellent book; investigative, frank, even-handed and, above all, vital to both the beer geek and the neophyte alike.” Leigh Linley
“Brew Britannia has, in exploring thepast, 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.” Rowan Molyneux
“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.” The Pub Curmudgeon
“For anyone interested in beer’s modern renaissance, it’s a quirky, comprehensive read, filled both with obscure information and more essential facts.” Saveur Magazine
“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.” Martyn Cornell
“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.” Chris Hall
“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…” Alan McLeod
“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…” Richard Taylor
“If you’ve even only a fleeting interest in how it is your choice of beer in pubs is as wide as it is these days, you should pick up this book and digest its contents over a pint or two.” Caught by the River
“Brew Britannia serves two masters — those who want to read scores of delightful stories about people who care, stories that together provide meaningful context; and those who twenty or sixty or how many ever years in the future are going to come looking for a source they can trust.” Stan Hieronymus
“At this point the writing and the storytelling is what matters…. And the blogging pair are great at that. I didn’t know a lot of the people in the book, or the places, or the beer. But, jeez, I loved reading this book. When I bought it, I honestly expected to skip pages here and there due to a lack of interest in the subject. But I didn’t – read every damn page.” Glen Humphries
“I find if you pick up a book and, in a few pages, are easily drawn in, then the chances are, that for your tastes at least, you have an eminently readable book in your hands. This was my experience with Brew Britannia by Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey… Whether you agree with the road they follow or the conclusion they reach, that is up to you. That’s the point of books, to stimulate your little grey cells. It’s their view of how beer came back from the brink and it’s very much readable for that.” John Cryne, former CAMRA chairman, in the London Drinker
“Brew Britannia is a well-researched, easily-readable pleasure deserving of the attention of a wider readership than keen beer drinkers.” Jeff Pickthall, Brewery History
“We’ve enjoyed a number of good beer books in the last few years, but none can touch Brew Britannia in terms of pure entertainment. If you have even the slightest interest in English beer, you’ll really enjoy it. (Even people who are interested mainly in American craft breweries will find it interesting because of the contrast it offers to our story.) And for people like Ted Sobel (and me), it is an absolute must-read.” Jeff Alworth, Beervana
“Brew Britannia, is impressive. It is a story of businesses that thrive or fail, of consumer rebellion, of enthusiasm and organizational strife. And, given the topic, a story of English eccentricity told in such a way that a smile and a chuckle is never far away…. Go ahead. This won’t end up on the shelf with the unread beer books. And it’s in paperback, meaning you can read it on the bus, which is more than you can say about the heavier tomes full of glossy photos.” Knut Albert
“It’s a journalist’s book, in the best sense of the word: they’ve done the work, they’ve got the facts right (as far as I can tell) and, most importantly, they’ve found a way in to the story… It’s a fine book. If you’ve read this far and you haven’t got a copy, you probably should; I don’t think you’ll regret it.” Phil Edwards
- It will help you understand why everyone is suddenly going on about bloody beer all the bloody time.
- It’s like a book about pop music, just with beer, which means you won’t have read these stories a million times before, unlike that one about how Paul McCartney composed ‘Yesterday’.
- It’s as much about changes in British society in the last half-century as it is about booze. (Rejected subtitle: ‘How British beer became middle class.’)
- It will definitely make you thirsty.
- Footnote fans: it’s based on research rather than guesswork with sources cited throughout.
- Footnote haters: they’re actually unobtrusive endnotes!
- It will provide you with ammunition to win important arguments on the internet.
- You will learn things from Brew Britannia that you wouldn’t know without spending two years in libraries and conducting interviews: we’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to.
- It is not a coffee table book which is the size of an actual coffee table: it will fit in your pocket, and is therefore perfect for reading in pub and bars. (Its attractive cover design will only be enhanced by the addition of beer stains, pork-scratching dust and tear-drops.)
- It is highly likely that you will disagree with some of the conclusions we have reached — pleasurable in itself, but also a possible source of angry posts on your beer blog.
- It answers once and for all the great question of our age: cask or keg? (Sort of.)
- The bibliography and endnotes will direct you to sufficient reading material for the next five years.
Just finished Brew Britannia. Felt like standing up and applauding at the end. A wonderful read, thank you @BoakandBailey
— Colin Stronge (@ColinStronge) October 30, 2014
- This is it — your chance to tell us that something we’ve worked really hard on ‘isn’t to your taste’, or is ‘meh’. We’ll have no comeback because you’ll have paid for it (unlike this blog) making you The Customer and therefore always right.
- On a more positive note, it might help you understand your place in British beer history and discover some new idols… which would be nice. It will certainly make a nice addition to the bookshelf in the brewery toilet.