To be honest, any self respecting beer fan should read every one of Pete Brown’s books and keep a constant vigil on his blog so that you are ready to read another of his articles the second it is posted. Pete is one of the best beer writers we have and his first trilogy (if you can call them that) of beer books are all essential reading in my opinion. However, if you only have time to read one, then his first book, Man Walks into a Pub, is as good a place as any to begin.
Starting at around 2000 years ago, at the advent of brewing, Pete looks at the long and fascinating history of beer, and later the development of pubs and all the associated parts therewith. Tracing the role of beer through the centuries, finishing up, rather logically, in the 20th century, it’s actually quite awe inspiring to see how central beer has always been in society, a drink for kings and peasants alike and one around which so much of social bonding happens. it is also rather striking, and more than a tad depressing, to see how in the latter part of the last century, we quickly went from a nation of people who drank locally brewed ale in local pubs, to a nation & indeed world that overwhelmingly became passive consumers of mass produced, mass marketed bland lagers, peddled by just a few mega corporations. It paints a chilling picture of how the beer landscape could now look had it not been for organisations like CAMRA in the UK or the rise of craft brewers in the US. Their fight for survival against the coporate behemouths of industrial fizz ensure that we now enjoy the healthiest beer scene in decades, probably centuries. There’s still work to do on the pub scene of course and Pete’s book is a great way to familiarise oneself with how we came to have a situation whereby around 10,000 of Britain’s pubs are owned by a small handful of pubcos who have no real interest in either running pubs or their role within society.
Man Walks into a Pub works on several levels because it is part history, part beer geekery, part social commentary. Pete’s writing is informal, familiar and friendly and at times you feel you could be in the pub enjoying a pint with him whilst he regales you with this information. This is I daresay deliberate on his part; beer is a social drink, a laid back drink and books about it should reflect this. It is no surprise that Pete Brown has been described as the beer drinker’s Bill Bryson and personally I couldn’t agree more.
So grab a beer, find a comfy seat and indulge your passion for beer here.