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2nd January 2018

Beer book reviews

Guild member David Harris has produced this review of beer books published in 2017.

Interest in craft beer continues to grow and we now have over 1,700 craft breweries in the UK brewing thousands of different beers. 2017 has seen a wide range of beer books being published. This year I have grouped the books according to subject matter. Whether you are new to beer or an old hand, hopefully you should find something of interest in the selection below. Books make great presents so if you are struggling to find something for the beer lover in your life then why not give them a book?



I have decided to institute my own equivalent of the Man Booker Prize for the beer book I have most enjoyed reading. No actual prize as such but the author would be welcome to join me for a pint in Emsworth. This year’s winner is novice beer writer and licenced trade consultant Steve Finn for:


The Great British Pub by Steve Finn. SPF Media. £8.

Have you ever wondered why so many pubs have closed in recent years? Why do pubs vary so much in their standards? This book really lifts the lid on the licensed trade and debunks many of the myths about pub closures.  Steve has spent most of his working life in the licenced trade and writes with great conviction and insight. If you are at all interested in pubs then this book will provide a most rewarding read.




There are still around 50,000 pubs in the UK despite some 21 closing every week. If you want to be sure that the pubs you visit offer a good choice of real ale and food then these guides may be useful.


Good Beer Guide 2018. Ed. Roger Protz. Camra. £15.99

This is the 45th edition of this indispensable guide for Real Ale enthusiasts.  The guide lists over 4500 of the best pubs in the UK for Real Ale.  There is also a comprehensive listing of all 1700 breweries in the UK. Local pubs that are listed include: Blue Bell, Coal Exchange and Lord Raglan, Emsworth; Robin Hood and Wheelwrights, Havant. Standards are really improving locally as last year only one pub, Emsworth’s Coal Exchange was mentioned.


Good Pub Guide 2018. Ed. Fiona Stapley. Ebury. £15.99

This annual, which is now in its 36th edition, lists 5000 pubs in England, Scotland and Wales. The focus is mainly on pubs that offer good food and a pleasant all round experience.  Local entries include: Old House at Home, Wheelwrights Arms, Royal Oak, Havant and Bluebell, Coal Exchange, Emsworth.


The Micropub Guide by Hardy M & Murray D. Kyle/Duncan Petersen. £14.99

This is a new entry in the world of pub guides in that it lists the 200 new micropubs that have opened in the last 10 years. A micropub is a small, independently owned, one room pub serving real ale.  Micropubs don’t offer food, TV or music and are often found in former retail premises in towns. We don’t have any in the Havant area yet but there are a considerable number on the Kent coast.



If you visit a supermarket, off licence or beer festival you will be struck by the vast selection of beers on offer. One of the joys of beer is the large range of styles that are now available.  These style guides will help you understand the differences between Pilsner and Helles, Belgian and German wheat beers and the huge range of IPAs on the market as well as all the other types of beers.


The Little Book of Craft Beer by Melissa Cole. Hardie Grant. £10.

A pocket sized guide to the 12 main categories of beer such as lagers, heavily hopped beers, dark beers and so on. The book contains in depth reviews of over 70 selected beers.


IPA by Roger Protz. Pavillion. £20.

India Pale Ale (IPA) is one of the most popular styles of craft beer in the world today. This book charts the history of this beer from its origin in the C18 to the present day. The author also gives in-depth reviews of over 160 IPAs from around the world.


Lonely Planet’s Global Beer Tour. Lonely Planet. £14.99.

Lonely Planet are best known for their travel guides which cover over 500 global destinations. This book takes you on a guided tour of the world’s leading beer producing countries plus a few not so obvious places such as North Korea. You will learn how to ask for a beer and say cheers in each country. At least one brewery and bar is featured with each nation’s entry.  The book is well illustrated with many colour photos.


The Seven Moods of Craft Beer by Adrian Tierney-Jones. 8 Books. £12.99

Over 350 beers from around the world are reviewed in this book which categorizes them by mood: Social, Adventurous, Poetic, Bucolic, Imaginative, Gastronomic and Contemplative. The author chooses beers which complement each mood. The reviews are well crafted and the book is illustrated with line drawings.


50 Greatest Beers in the World by Tim Hampson. Icon. £8.99

This book chooses some 20 different styles of beer from 11 different countries. The author writes in-depth reviews of beers which include a very wide range from Imperial Stouts to lagers.


The World Atlas of Beer by Webb T & Beaumont S. Mitchell Beazley. £25.

This book focuses on 30 major beer producing countries and looks at their indigenous beer styles. There must be coming on for 20000 different breweries in the world now that the craft beer revolution has spread to most corners of the globe. The book has many useful maps and will inspire readers to plan a holiday in a beer region.


Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher. Storey. £13.99

This is really an encyclopaedia of all things to do with beer. Every possible aspect of beer and how to fully appreciate it is covered in this most readable and well-illustrated book. The book covers all the main styles of beer and food pairing, beer cocktails, glassware and much else.  Extremely good value for money given the scope of the book.



Beer is big business and whilst the industry is dominated by a few mega-corporations there are a huge number of small craft breweries opening in almost every country in the world.


Beeronomics by Swinnen J & Briski D. OUP. £16.99

This is an academic book which looks at the rise of the global beer industry. The 15 chapters cover a wide variety of themes including Beer and the Royal Navy, Belgian Wheat Beers and the rise of US craft breweries.


Brewing Revolution by Frank Appleton. Harbour. £19.37

The craft beer revolution began in the USA in the 1970’s but it quickly spread across the border to Canada. This book tells the story of how the author started the Horseshoe Bay Brewery in British Columbia in 1982 and effectively kick-started the Canadian craft brew movement.



Beer is a relatively simple product comprising of four ingredients: water, barley, hops and yeast. It has been brewed for thousands of years but brewers are still coming up with new styles and flavours.  These books will help you understand the brewing process.


Miracle Brew by Pete Brown. Unbound. £16.99

This book devotes a lengthy chapter to each ingredient of beer: water, barley, hops and yeast and explains how each one is critical in the making of beer. It is a very well written and entertaining book by one of Britain’s best known beer writers.


Beer School by Garrett J & Evans B. Mango Media. £14.95.

The idea behind this book is that in order to appreciate beer you really need to understand how it is brewed and what the brewer was trying to achieve in making the beer. The book covers the brewing process in great depth and is aided by some very clear diagrams.  There is also a very comprehensive section on beer tasting.


The Secrets of the Master Brewers by Jeff Alworth. Storey. £18.99.

This is a very wide ranging book in which the author looks at 26 different styles of beer and looks behind the scenes at the breweries that brew these beers. The book also includes recipes for home brewers.



These books don’t necessarily fit any of the above categories but are of interest to the beer lover.


Empire of Booze by Henry Jeffreys. Unbound. £12.99.

This well written and most entertaining book covers cider, port, gin, whisky, and champagne as well as beer. The book is a study of how Britain shaped the world’s taste for alcohol mainly through the role of British merchants. The author, who is a wine writer makes suggestions at the end of each chapter about drinks that he recommends.


Beer in so many Words by Adrian Tierney-Jones. Safehaven. £14.99.

This is a selection of writing about beer which includes articles by literary giants such as George Orwell and Dylan Thomas. There are also extracts from books by leading beer writers, poets, historical texts and some articles from Victorian brewing journals which seem quite topical today.


CAMRA’S Beer Knowledge (3rd ed) by Jeff Evans. CAMRA. £9.99

This is a good stocking filler for the beer fan. The book is packed full of facts and figures about all things beery.  It is a mix of hard facts about the industry plus much trivia.


Little Book of Beer Tips by Andrew Langley. Absolute. £4.99

If you are looking for a little extra gift for a beer lover then why not slip them this slim volume of useful beer tips. The 50 ideas include recipes, serving tips and other uses for beer.




Brewing in West Sussex by David Muggleton. Amberley. £14.99.

A comprehensive study of breweries past and present in West Sussex. The book is well illustrated and also includes details of the 25 breweries now operating in West Sussex.


Portsmouth Pubs by Steve Wallis. Amberley. £14.99.

This book is a whistle stop tour of 99 pubs that are currently open within the Portsmouth City area. All areas are explored from Old Portsmouth to Cosham.  The book has plenty of good quality colour photos.

David Harris: