The two lucky winners of cases of beer and copies of Brew Britannia are Joe Troughton and Mark Graham, whose names were picked at random.
Thanks to everyone for taking part — the entries make for great reading in their own right!
Suffice to say, we’re delighted with the response so far.
Though the official launch isn’t until 19 June, we understand that Amazon are currently dispatching copies.
We’ve added a few London events to our tour calendar: do come and say hello at BrewDog Camden on Sunday 15 June, 1-3 pm; or at the King’s Arms, E2, on Friday 20 June, from 7-9 pm.
And, finally, the Amazon Kindle version is now available to pre-order at £6.17 (less than half the price of the paperback) and we are told that it will also be released in other e-book formats (e.g. Nook, Apple) fairly shortly.
When Beer Hawk told us they wanted to stock Brew Britannia, we asked if we could suggest (ahem — ‘curate’) a mixed case of beer to go with it, and they said, “Yes!”
Bearing in mind that we had to choose (more or less) from their catalogue, we’re pretty pleased with the selection, which includes influential Belgian and American beers, historical homages, and beers which have played a significant part in the last 50 years of British brewing.
We’ve written a short guide to go with it, which also suggests (no joke) which chapter of the book to ‘pair’ each beer with.
Now, Beer Hawk are offering two people chance to win one of these packs.
To enter, simply comment below, telling us, in no more than 100 words, about the single most memorable beer you’ve ever tasted.
Entries received after 5pm BST on Friday 6 June won’t be valid, so get your comment in before then, and make sure to use a valid email address so we can let you know if you’ve won.
We’ll contact the two winners by email on Saturday 7 June and announce their names in another blog post once we’ve confirmed their acceptance of the prize, probably (hopefully) on Sunday 8 June.
This is just a bit of fun, but…
Terms and conditions and rules and regulations and health and safety
We figured that, even if we didn’t get chance to plug Brew Britannia, we’d at least have fun drinking decent beer in great pubs and bars, and seeing the sights. But, as it happened, we were invited to appear and/or speak at a few venues.
At Port Street Beer House on Sunday afternoon, we were in competition with blazing sunlight which had turned Manchester into a dead ringer for Barcelona. Nonetheless, several people turned up to share a beer with us and buy advance copies of the book.
It was great to meet everyone, but we have to admit that we were especially pleased to make the acquaintance of Len, a reader who usually ‘lurks’, and who settled our nerves with a few kind words in the first few minutes.
We also found ourselves thinking that someone — maybe us — ought to write a proper portrait piece about 6TownsMart, whose commitment to, and first-hand knowledge of, Belgian beer is awe-inspiring. ‘Brewers as rock stars’ is a well-worn angle, but dedicated drinkers deserve some attention too.
At North Bar in Leeds on Monday, we got to try the Kirkstall Brewery beer Revitalisation, thoughtfully developed by Matt Lovatt from some vague thoughts we put in an email. We drank lots of it, and it prompted plenty of conversation among the Leeds crafterati, as well as finding favour with a few of the locals with more conservative tastes. We’ll write more about it in a substantial post about Boddington’s to follow in the next week or so.
We did our best to give a reading, but our puny voices struggled a bit against the non-stop partying which characterises the venue. Someone made us drink tequila, and Ghost Drinker plied us with wonderful, wonderful gueuze. We signed and sold a lot of copies of the book, which saved us lugging any back to Manchester, though the 20 copies of The Grist we acquired were heavier and more awkwardly shaped.
We had two engagements in Sheffield. First, at the Thornbridge-owned Hallamshire House, on Wednesday night. This was the first actual ‘talk’ we gave. Forty or so people, many of them actually there for a German student’s birthday drinks, listened politely as we spoke about the origins of the term ‘craft beer’. Some sidled up with questions, including, to our delight, the German birthday boy, who wanted to know why porter was so hard to find: “Ah,” he said on hearing our off-the-cuff answer. “This is the same as with Dortmund Export.”
We were delighted to meet Jim Harrison, one of the founders of Thornbridge — he is a very charming man — but cringed as we watched he and his wife read what we’d written about them in the book from across the room. They didn’t take offence, but seemed perhaps a little hurt that we’d portrayed them as ‘lordly’: “I came on the bus tonight.”
As the crowd thinned, we were joined by Thornbridge brewers Rob Lovatt and Will Inman, who indulged our naive questions about processes and yeast, and politely disagreed with a couple of our thoughts on Thornbridge’s beer. Very civilised.
We finished on a real high note with a ticketed talk at the Hop Hideout on Abbeydale Road in Sheffield. It is a tiny but lovingly-managed specialist beer shop in the corner of a larger unit selling vintage… stuff, so the talk actually took place in the cafe next door. With blinds drawn, it felt like a lock-in or speakeasy, and talking to a crowd who wanted to be there was a real treat.
Over the course of a couple of hours, we tasted:
Most people seemed to agree that Chimay was cruelly overlooked these days; that SNPA was still a really good beer; that Dobber was on fantastically good form; and that Ninkasi was extremely complex and interesting. Watching someone smell the Cascade aroma of SNPA for the first time was a treat, too.
We’ll be in London in the week commencing 16 June and will hopefully be able to announce a programme of appearances in the coming days. We’re also at Beer Wolf in Falmouth, Cornwall, on 28 June from 4pm. Come and see us somewhere, at some time!
We wrote quite a few posts about the pre-Campaign for Real Ale era and the early years of CAMRA, and we find ourselves sharing the links fairly frequently.
With that in mind, and to give the undecided a taster of what they might be getting in the book, we thought we’d corral them in one place.
First, there was a series of posts about the organisations that pre-dated the Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood (SPBW) and CAMRA. First we discovered the Ancient Order of Frothblowers and the Pub Users’ Protection Society; then the National Society for the Promotion of Pure Beer; and, finally, Young & Co’s 135 Association, inspired by a precursor to CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide.
Trying to trace the development of the language around beer, we found a 1934 reference to cask ale as ‘the real thing’, and considered how that kind of general use eventually led to the more technical term ‘real ale’. We also discovered the role of civil servants in fixing the way we use the words ‘draught’, ‘cask’ and ‘keg’ today:
We use the description ‘draught’ beer to include any beer which is supplied to the retailer in bulk containers and drawn to order in the pub for each customer. All the large brewers and many smaller ones now brew a kind of draught beer which has become known as ‘keg’ beer. Although the word ‘draught’ is sometimes used to distinguish traditional draught from keg beer, for the purposes of this report we call the former ‘cask’ beer. [B&B’s emphasis.]
And here’s what we discovered about CAMRA’s flirtation with the rhetoric of the ‘whole food’ movement and ‘natural beer’.
Finally, we considered the culture and image of CAMRA in its early years. At first, no-one seemed sure if the typical CAMRA member was a blazer-wearing young ‘trendy’, a bearded hippy, or a burly bloke with a beer belly. The beard-and-sandals image, which CAMRA has spent decades trying to shake, seems really to have taken hold after David Bellamy opened the 1979 Great British Beer Festival.
Quite apart from how members looked, the question of how CAMRA was perceived also interests us. We put together a brief history of ‘CAMRA bashing’ which reflected the impatience some early supporters, such as Richard Boston, felt over the boring technical debates about dispense methods which ravaged the Campaign during 1977.