Sorry Miss, The Dog Ate My Homework…….

Posted on November 3, 2009

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Whilst I realise this bandwagon may have sailed out of town a little while ago, I thought I’d try and jump on board and do my book review of Pete Brown’s Hops & Glory (sorry it’s late miss).

Now this is a first for me, I’ve never read a whole book about beer before and I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction either, usually the only thing I tend to read cover to cover is Heat Magazine but having pestered Pete for a meeting for weeks I thought I best at least thumb through it in readiness for our get together. So no one was more surprised than me (except the author himself I expect) when I enjoyed it, really enjoyed it.

So what’s so good about it then? Well, on the publisher’s website it says this……….

“A raucous, rollicking history of the original India Pale Ale — the finest beer ever brewed

For the first time in 140 years, a keg of traditional Burton IPA has been brewed for a voyage to India by canal and tall ship, around the Cape of Good Hope; and the man carrying it is award-winning beer writer Pete Brown. Brazilian pirates and Iranian customs officials lie ahead, but will he even make it that far, having fallen in the canal just a few miles outside Burton-on-Trent? And if Pete does make it to the other side of the world with ‘Barry’ the barrel, one question remains: what will the real IPA taste like?”

So a book about beer, travel and history, only one of which I’m interested in, in a genre of book I don’t like, wasn’t exactly setting me on fire and I did wonder if I was taking my pre meeting prep a little too far.

But I was wrong, very wrong. This book will have you emitting wry smiles on page one, disguising chuckles as coughs on page two (if like me you read the first few chapters on the Dover to Calais ferry) and is laugh out loud funny well before the end of the first chapter and throughout the entire book.

I’m fortunate to have some insider knowledge of some of the early story (and access to the company photo library)so it was great to read about the efforts of some great colleagues of mine, the legendary Steve Wellington, the lovely Lisa, the gentlemanly Rudgie (currently waving the Molson Coors Flag in Canada) and feel by association that maybe I was somehow involved in getting this project off the ground (tenuous I know!!). Pete’s knowledge and research is outstanding and evident throughout – I’m ashamed to say he knew much more about the history of the company I work for than I did but delighted to have learnt so much as a result of reading this book.

This book is an entertaining and engrossing tale about Pete’s trip by barge, train, plane, cruise ship, tall ship and finally container ship from Burton to India (not forgetting the trip down Burton High Street with Carling the Shire Horse), following the historical route that IPA’s travelled over 140 years ago.

Nobody travels that route by sea any longer, and reading about the ordeal Pete puts himself through I can see why!
There is a lot of historical information throughout but interspersed at just the right times with a good dose of self-deprecating humour that keeps it engaging to the end. If you’re a fan of non-fiction you’ll like it and learn a lot about IPA and the colonial history of India (that sometimes makes for uncomfortable reading) but you also get  a ton of laughs along the way that makes it a great read for anyone.

I’m sure Pete didn’t just nearly kill himself for fun and would love more people to invest in his retirement fund so why not hop over to Amazon and get it for yourself, it’s well worth it.

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