A new book: Balmy Nectar

A mockup of the book.

Balmy Nectar is a collection of all the longer pieces of writing we’ve produced for CAMRA, magazines such as Beer Advocate, and here on the blog.

It also includes a foreword by Tim Webb and a new piece pulling together into a coherent whole the best of the many ‘pub life’ observational posts we’ve been writing since 2015.

In total, it runs to about 80,000 words, a similar length to Brew Britannia and 20th Century Pub. Which is to say, it’s a proper chunky book, unlike Gambrinus Waltz which was only ever what they used to call a monograph.

And though collating and editing it all has been hard work, it’s also been really lovely to be reminded of how much good stuff we’ve turned out. We’re especially proud of the voices we put on record, from beer festival volunteers to publicity shy brewers.

If you want a copy, and of course you do, Balmy Nectar is available from the Amazon Kindle store now for £7, or $9.22 in the US.

It would be a handy thing to have loaded up when you go on your summer holidays, or just to have handy in the free app on your phone for dipping into if you find yourself waiting for a mate in the pub.

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Canada | Germany | Australia

A print-on-demand paperback version is also available for the traditionalists among you, priced at £11. (Confession: the main reason we went to all the trouble of compiling, correcting and updating this stuff is because we wanted one of these for our own shelf.)

And here’s what the collection includes, to save you a click or two: Foreword | Introduction | Beer geeks in history | Brew Britannia: the women | A pint of Old & Filthy | Only a northern brewer (David Pollard) | 1974: birth of the beer guide | The pub crawlers | 1975: birth of the beer festival | The Campaign for Unreal Ale | Craft before it was a thing (Williams Bros) | Michael Jackson | Belgophilia | Lager louts | Cornish swanky beer | The Quiet One (Peter Elvin) | Newquay Steam | Spingo | Bitter | Watney’s Red Barrel | Boddington’s | Doom Bar | Guinness in decline | Pale and hoppy | The mystery of Old Chimneys | Mixing beer | The pubs of Boggleton | German Bierkellers in Britain | Welcome to Adnamsland | The Good, the Bad and the Murky | Don’t Worry, be (mostly) happy | Pub Life

The Best of Us in 2017

The idea behind this round-up of the best of our own writing from 2017 is, as much as anything, to remind ourselves of what we’ve pulled off.

We forgot we’d written some of this stuff at all, while other bits we had in mind were were from last year, or maybe the year before.

It’s been a hectic time what with moving from Penzance to Bristol and the publication of a second book but, despite all that, we kept up a fairly steady flow of posts — about 240 in all. Of course that includes plenty of throwaways, weekly links round-ups, and our Month That Was summaries. Still, we reckon it amount to about 160,000 words of original writing — enough for another two books.

This is probably a good point to say that if you appreciate our output and want to encourage us to keep doing it, ad-free, and mostly outside any kind of paywall, please do consider subscribing to our Patreon. It’s dead easy, and for as little as $2 per month you can help pay for all this, and also get some bonus stuff there. (We’ve unlocked a few posts over the course of the year so you can see for yourself.) That people have signed up has been a major source of encouragement but, you know, there’s always room for a bit more.

Now, down to business. We’ve decided to limit ourselves to ten that we especially like but have also included by way of a footnote a second list of the stuff that actually got all the traffic, which is not always the stuff that’s most fun or interesting to write. First up, its…

Continue reading “The Best of Us in 2017”

How to Buy Signed Books for Christmas

Right, let’s not beat about the bush: you’ve got assorted awkward family members to buy gifts for and we’ve got (a) a loaded pen; (b) a stack of books. Let’s do business.

If you want a signed copy of our latest, 20th Century Pub, or of Brew Britannia, email us as soon as possible at contact@boakandbailey.com telling us:

  • who you want it dedicated to;
  • any special message you’d like (otherwise, we’ll exercise our wits); and
  • where you’d like it posted.

In return, we’ll let you know where to transfer money. The prices have settled, after a bit of trial and error as follows:

  • 20th Century Pub — £15 including UK postage and packing.
  • Brew Britannia (2017 corrected edition, smaller format, no appendices) — £10 inc. UK P&P.
  • Set of three badges — £3 inc. UK P&P, or £2 when purchased with either book.

We only have a limited supply of each and parcels need to be in the post before 20 December if they’re to arrive in time for Christmas Day, so don’t put it off. (Which is to say, we’d like to get all this out of the way before the Post Office turns into something off Dawn of the Dead.)

20th Century Pub

The cover of 20th Century Pub.

Right, so it’s finally real — we have hard copies of the new book, as handed over in a Bristol pub last night in a vaguely cloak-and-dagger exchange.

The idea behind the book is that it tells the story of how pubs changed and developed between 1900 and the present via inter-war improved pubs, post-war estate pubs, theme pubs, Irish pubs, gastropubs, micropubs, and so on. The tone is similar to Brew Britannia with perhaps a little more flair in the prose — we’ve had three years extra practice, after all.

You can pre-order from Amazon UK now as well as various other places (list below). The official publication date is 15 September but it’s likely to go out earlier than that.

Detail of one of the illustrations.
Detail from a 1955 illustration by Clarke Hutton, securing the rights to which took considerable detective work on Jo’s part.

And (fingers crossed) it should also be available at the Great British Beer Festival bookshop next week. Assuming all goes to plan, we’ll be there signing copies on Tuesday afternoon (trade day) at around 1:30, and will be hanging about until about 7pm in case anyone misses that organised signing session. Come and say hello!

Chapter header.
Dale Tomlinson, the designer, is a type nerd.

It’s a very pretty book, if we do say so ourselves — bright, tactile, with lots of crisp black-and-white photos, both from the archives and taken by us on our travels during 2015-2017. We’re delighted to say that some of the illustrations we most wanted to include made the cut after much detective work and bargaining by Joanna Copestick at Homewood Press.

Detail from a mock advertisement by Nick Tolson.
Nick Tolson gave us permission to reproduce this mock advertisement from Viz comic as an easter egg on the inside rear cover.

Here’s that list of suppliers we know of so far:

Or, if you want a signed copy sent by post, drop us a line (contact@boakandbailey.com) and we’ll see what we can do.

Patreon and Other Encouragements

We’ve just launched a Patreon page so that you can support this blog in its second decade, if you want to.

Patreon is a service that makes it easy for those who enjoy art and media to encourage and financially contribute to those who make it.

The idea is that you make a recurring monthly payment of any amount you fancy. There are increasing rewards for different levels of support, e.g. a special ebook for those who sign up for $5 or more a month. There are also goals we commit to with each fund milestone.

You can read more about all that on the Patreon page itself along with responses to some frequently asked questions and feedback we’ve already received.

The main point is that it’s not compulsory and that the blog will continue as it is either way, except hopefully better. You can also cancel your support at any time — it’s not a huge commitment.

Thanks to those who have pledged already after hearing about this in our email newsletter — we really appreciate it.

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Update 14/02/2018: Feedback suggested some people wanted to donate but not in US dollars and not on an ongoing basis. With that in mind we’ve signed up with Ko-Fi which allows you to make a quick one-off payment at about the price of a cup of coffee, pint of ale, or second-hand paperback.

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Detail from the cover of Gambrinus Waltz.

If you don’t fancy Patreon you can also contribute by buying our books: Brew Britannia is just going into a second edition (slightly smaller and cheaper, with corrections) and our new book, about pubs, should be available to pre-order soon.

If you buy our short ebook, Gambrinus Waltz, from Amazon we earn 70% of the £2.00 cover price and you get to read a book Martyn Cornell has called ‘excellent’. You don’t need a Kindle either — Amazon offers free apps for phones, tablets and desktop PCs. This is as close as you can get to buying us a half down the pub unless, er, you bump into us in a pub.

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Victorian clip art man: I Endorse Boak & Bailey.

And if even that’s a bit rich for your pocket there’s always the smallest unit of payment: shares and endorsements on social media. It’s costs nothing but is a big boost for our morale and helps us find new readers. We’re not asking you to spam anyone — just tell people about us if you think they’ll find the blog genuinely interesting. We’re easy to find as ‘boakandbailey’ on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram if you want to point people our way.

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If you’re a regular follower we hope you’ll trust us not to bloody go on about this — we’ll mention it every now and then in passing probably but otherwise this is it.

Where to Buy Brew Britannia

Although we understand Brew Britannia is now out of print there are still various ways and places to get hold of a copy if you want to give it to someone this Christmas.

  1. Amazon UK is sold out but, if you insist on buying from there, there are several third-party sellers with brand new copies at reasonable prices.
  2. Amazon US has it in stock and delivers (we think) worldwide — certainly to the UK, anyway, fairly promptly.
  3. Other online bookstores such as Waterstones, Book Depository, Foyles and Books Please are offering it ready to dispatch with in a day or two.
  4. Specialists Beer Inn Print is offering it along with a huge selection of other beer- and pub-related books — well worth a browse.
  5. If you want a signed copy then we have a few at hand which we’re selling at £12.99 including postage within the mainland UK — drop us an email via contact@boakandbailey.com to discuss dedications and details.
  6. We know that there are also a few copies out and about in small independent book and beer shops — check your local before you order online.

Remember to tell the lucky recipient about the errata (or, as we call it, the List of Burning Shame) and the (also award-winning) follow-up supplement ‘The Good, the Bad and the Murky’.

And if if you still need convincing here are links to a bunch of reviews and whatnot.

Another Award for Brew Britannia

On Saturday, the North American Guild of Beer Writers gave Brew Britannia the top prize in the history/technical category at their annual awards.

You can read the full list of winners in every category here — it includes blogger Bryan Roth, British journalist Will Hawkes, and quite a few people whose work we hadn’t come across before but now look forward to checking out.

A bit of background: as we’re not members, we had to pay to enter this competition — not something we’d usually do, but we figured that we might be in with a shot given Brew Britannia‘s performance at the British Guild awards in December.

Though of course it’s nice to have a pat on the back and our egos stroked, awards have a practical benefit: they are really useful when it comes to pitching books to publishers and, as there is another substantial book we’d really like to write, we need all the help we can get.

You can buy Brew Britannia in various places:

And there’s also a short ‘One Year On’ update available on the blog and as a free e-book.

Brew Britannia Hits the US

Front cover of Brew Britannia.

A little while after the UK launch, copies of Brew Britannia have finally begun to make their way out across the world, and two recent reviews from the US provide food for thought.

Jeff Alworth at Beervana, for example, highlights trans-Atlantic confusion over the meanings and cultural values implied by ‘craft’ and cask. In the US, cask-conditioned beer is considered the height of ‘craft’-ness, while in the UK, as we argue in the book, one of the many simultaneously-live meanings of ‘craft’ has been, since c.1997, ‘the antidote to real ale’. There is much potential for crossed wires here.

Jeff also ponders on why North America didn’t develop a powerful beer consumer group along the lines of the Campaign for Real Ale. It’s not as if the US doesn’t have a culture of clubs, though anything that even remotely resembled a union (CAMRA was nearly called ‘the Beer Drinkers’ Union at one point) would probably have raised hackles.

Derrick Peterman picks up the same thread and offers one possible answer: “Boak and Bailey’s history documents a similar revolution, but a demand driven one rather than the American revolution driven by new supply… That whole idea seems somehow un-American.” In America, capitalism is activism?

At any rate, we look forward to seeing if an answer emerges in discussion.

Finally, both Derrick and Jeff make a point that we hope potential reader will hear: you don’t need to be British to enjoy this book!

(There’ll be a proper blog post, i.e. one that isn’t about us and our book, along later today…)

Brew Britannia: Launch Week

Even though it escaped into the wild a few weeks ago, this is still the official launch week for Brew Britannia, so we’re spending the week in and around London making various appearances:

There have been a couple more reviews since our last round-up, too:

  • The Pub Curmudgeon — “…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.”
  • Martyn ‘Zythophile’ Cornell — “Overall, Boak and Bailey have produced 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.”
  • Kiley Bense for Saveur magazine — “… for anyone interested in beer’s modern renaissance, it’s a quirky, comprehensive read, filled both with obscure information and more essential facts…”

UPDATE 23/06/2014: While we were away, a few more reviews arrived:

  • Ron Pattinson liked it: “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.”
  • Roger Protz said: “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.”
  • Chris ‘Beer Diary’ Hall gave it the thumbs-up, saying: “It’s not just a great book, it’s an important one for the time we live in.”
  • And Alan ‘A Good Beer Blog’ McLeod declared it a “superbly researched and deftly written history”.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, Alan McLeod says:

We’ve also been enjoying a steady flow of shots of the book in various states of completion from readers around the country and, indeed, the world, via Twitter. Here’s our favourite so far, from Steve ‘Beer Justice’ Williams: