Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thirsty Pilgrim's Book of the Year: Hops and Glory.

I used to be a real political reporter, with suits and ties and everything. Now I'm out of practice. Perpetually rumpled. So I'm having trouble packing for London and tomorrow night's British Guild of Beer Writers awards dinner. I'm neither British nor likely to win anything, but I was invited, and it sounds like a good party doesn't it? Wonder if I can get away with blue jeans. Maybe with a big belt buckle and a thick Ozarks accent. As if I ever had one.

"Lounge suit" attire. Hmm. I think that means a real matching suit. Damn.

Listen: I was going to do a long, boring post on beer books — as in, which ones from the past year should be on your Christmas wish list. Then I realized I wasn't wild about most of them. So I'm going to make it easy and narrow it down to one: Hops and Glory. A few of you know it, but not enough of you.

The synopsis: Regular dude Pete Brown gets the brilliant and stupid idea to escort a barrel of IPA via boat all the way from Burton to India. Between dramatic episodes he delivers the deepest and best-written history of India Pale Ale you are ever likely to find. It's a seriously fun read for anyone interested in beer, boats or bribes.

One way to score beery books is based on how thirsty they make you. This is the clear winner of 2009. Lots of hot weather, cool and bright beer, and fruity hop aroma. Just thinking about it makes my mouth a bit dry.

I met Pete at the Great British Beer Festival last time I was in London. He was signing Hops and Glory. I told him he was a sonofabitch, because I'd been reading Three Sheets to the Wind and couldn't get his voice out of my head. It's a bit contagious, which is nice for him but annoying when you're trying to write something yourself. He told me to go read Stephen King. I'm still not sure if he was joking. I don't think so.

Meanwhile, Pete has been busy lately, both promoting and reporting on British craft beer more visibly than anyone else. I hope he wins some silverware tomorrow night.

The real question is, what will he be wearing?


  1. Are you on the Cogan & Mater table Joe? If so I'll see you there!

  2. Yep. The cool kids table, obviously.