As we hit the height of summer, we thought it was about time we rounded up our summer reading list, the top 5 books we recommend every beer geek should be reading whilst sat on the beach or on a park bench. Don’t worry, they’re not all technical how to books although we have chucked a couple of those in. Rather, we’ve looked through our extensive and growing library of beer related literature, and picked out those books that we think do justice to beer culture, brewers, history and the industry in general. Read on, for what to read on.
Note, this list is not in a hierarchy – all 5 of these books are quite different so to rank them would be tricky.
Seems as appropriate a place to start as any. A voyage by one of the UK’s most engaging beer writers that sees him visit 300 bars in 13 different countries, on a mission to understand beer and drinking culture throughout the world. And it’s really quite eye opening. Written more in the style of a travel memoir, Three Sheets to the Wind doesn’t cover technicalities about beer. It does include a bit of history of different beer and drinking cultures but it’s as much about people as anything else. After all, people are the essence of society, which is what makes this such an entertaining romp around the world via pubs, bars, hostels, taperias, or whatever other terminology is used for the place we meet to drink, gossip, argue and generally interact.
The story of how Sierra Nevada got started, Beyond The Pale provides so much more than just an autobiographical trip down memory lane. Through the memoirs of Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman, you’ll unlock the origin story of the American craft beer movement from 1980 onwards, and you’ll be amazed at how ramshackle it all was when it got going. Ken has been a pivotal part of the US craft beer scene for the past 3 decades and this brilliantly written book does well not to roam into self-aggrandisement or self-congratulation. Given that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the beer that launched a thousand pale ales, this book deserves a place on every beer lover’s book shelf.
You may have noticed but we’re quite the fans of Craft Beer Channel hosts Jonny Garrett and Brad Evans so when they released a book a couple of years back, we jumped right on in. This short, crash course in craft beer, is great if you’re looking to brush up your knowledge over the summer, preparing you for an Autumn of bottle shares, pumpkin ales and imperial stouts. It covers the main topics that every discerning geek should know about, in just enough detail to leave you satisfied, but intrigued to know more.
If we included an American biography (Beyond The Pale), we felt we should include a British one too and this biography of London’s oldest surviving independent brewery (well, independent until earlier this year that is) Fuller Smith & Turner is a really interesting look at an iconic London brand. Spanning 170 years of history which includes two world wars, Crafting a Company provides fascinating context for a beer industry that has fluctuated up and down over the past two centuries, ending up with the current scene.
When it comes to bloggers, Boak & Bailey are up there in our top 3 and it was a tricky decision about which of their published books to include in the list. Whilst Brew Britannia is probably their most famous, we decided to opt for Balmy Nectar because we like that it’s a pithy collection of some of their best published works, from their blog, magazines and elsewhere. That makes it a nice one to dip in and out of plus you get to enjoy their quite particular writing style in it’s true form. Topics covered range from pub life to lager louts to the horrors of Watney’s Red Barrel so there’s guaranteed to be plenty to keep you entertained.