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 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 ( 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 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.