Skip to main content
22nd January 2020


Guild member David Harris has compiled his annual review of beer books, which he has kindly shared with us for the past 5 years.

Any comments/questions, please contact David on

David writes: “There has been a decline in the number of general interest beer books published in 2019. This may indicate that the market for style guides and books about beer tourism is fairly saturated. However there have been some very interesting books published, especially by new writers.”

The Bucket List Beer by Justin Kennedy. Universe. £20

This is not to be confused with the similarly named, The Beer Bucket List by Mark Dredge (2018). This book is another in the beer tourism category where the author takes us around the world pointing out interesting beers, breweries and pubs. The first 120 pages takes around the USA, followed by 110 pages of Europe (18 for the UK) and 130 for the rest of the world. The book is profusely illustrated with high quality colour photos and could provide inspiration for anyone planning a beercation.

The Guide to Craft Beer. Brewers Publications (USA) £10.65

This pocket sized American publication describes 81 different types of beer which are listed under 15 family groupings. Every style gets a full page entry listing colour (SRM), bitterness (IBU) and strength (ABV). All British styles are included plus American novelty beers such as Pumpkin. Unlike many style guides it does not recommend any particular beers but is a useful guide to have on your bookshelf or in your pocket at a beer festival.

A Brief History of Lager by Mark Dredge. Kyle. £14.99

Mark has written what is surely the definitive history of the world’s most popular style of beer. He traces its history from Munich in 1280, through to the Oktoberfest which began in 1810. We go to Pilsen which is seen as the home of modern lager brewing and to the pioneering work on yeast carried out at the Carlsberg laboratories in Copenhagen. He explores the growth of lager in the USA and the role of Heineken in establishing world domination.

A Beer in the Loire by Tommy Barnes. Muswell Press. £8.99

Have you ever dreamed of giving up the rat race, moving to France and starting a brewery? For Tommy, his girlfriend Rose, son Albert and Burt the dog it all came true. This is a very well written, highly amusing account of how they moved to Braslou, Indre-et-Loire, France. They live in an old house, start brewing their own beer and eventually become accepted as part of the local community and even make a living selling beer in a wine growing area.

A Natural History of Beer by Rob DeSalle & Ian Tattersall. Yale University Press. £20.

If you have studied science and want to know more about how beer and its ingredients have evolved then this is a fascinating read. There is quite a bit on beer in ancient times, the evolution of barley and hops, the DNA of yeasts and fermentation. It is not a book about the chemistry of brewing but rather a detailed scientific study of everything about beer including how alcohol alters our senses and how we develop beer bellies.

30 Second Beer. Sophie Atherton (ed) Ivy Books. £14.99

This well illustrated book covers 50 beer related topics each of which is explained in around 200 words. The short articles are written by some of our best known beer writers including: Pete Brown, Jeff Evans and Roger Protz as well as Sophie Atherton. The book is divided into seven chapters: Basics, History, Brewing, Beer Styles, Beer Culture, Beer Industry and Beer Appreciation. We learn about the individual ingredients of beer: water, malt, yeast and hops as well as the main beer styles. There are entries on beer people, home brewing, pubs, beer tasting, storage and beer festivals.

The Beer Lover’s Table by Clare Bullen & Jen Ferguson. Dog n Bone. £16.99

This is not a book about cooking with beer or a pub grub recipe book. Rather it tries to introduce the reader to the varied styles of beer that are available today and pair them up with some innovative recipes. The book is divided into five chapters each of which looks at a particular style of beer and then gives around 12 recipes that would go with these beers. The recipes are beautifully illustrated and most of the dishes are what you would expect to find in a top end bistro or restaurant.

It’s the Beer Talk by Ian Clayton. Route Publishing. £12.99

Ian Clayton is a welcome newcomer to the world of beer writing. He is an experienced writer and broadcaster who has written about music, Rugby League and Northern life. Initially I expected this book to be in the Pete Brown/Bill Bryson style of gentle, humorous, observational writing but it is in fact a gritty memoir of a lost world of rough West Yorkshire pubs, Rugby League, mining villages and working men’s clubs. The book is part memoir, part eulogy to a world that came to an end in the 1980s with the Miners’ Strike and the eventual closure of Britain’s coal mining industry. Ian is a fine writer who paints a vivid picture of working class life in the North of England as reflected through the prism of a beer glass.