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.
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…)
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:
- Tuesday 17 June – we’re at the Cambridge Brewhouse, King Street, Cambridge, from 6–9 pm – we’ll have books to sign, will be chatting beer, and have a reading ready in case the surging crowd demands it.
- On Friday 20 June, from 7–9 pm, we’ll be at the Kings Arms, Bethnal Green. Chatting, signing, reading – you get the idea by now.
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: