Let’s start with a confession: pubs play a major part in my family history, so much that there should practically be ale running through my veins, but I have never actually pulled a pint in my life.
Whilst my beer education has grown rapidly thanks to travel, and a love of exploring the World Beers section in Tesco, I would never have considered myself an expert on the stuff… that is, until I was presented with a handy little book to help me brush up on the facts.
Here’s my potted review of the Bluffer’s Guide to Beer, which has reinvigorated my love of the humble pint:
Beer snobbery is alive and well for a reason – because nobody deserves to drink a bad pint. What Jonathan Goodall has uncovered in his guide is that most of us have been sipping second-rate brands instead of the good stuff. Thankfully, this book will help you to wake up and smell the hops (laughing a lot along the way), taking in the science, social history, trends and serious craft of all things beer.
Strangely enough, considering the male-orientated advertising that goes hand in hand with beer, one of the greatest takeaways from this Bluffer’s Guide was discovering women’s role in its history. Did you know that a Benedictine Abbess wrote the first account of brewing with hops, or that 15th century English beer was made by ‘alewives’? So much for this being a macho drink, lads – we grafted just as hard as you to get our fix.
The great thing about this guide is that it gets to you a level of knowledge that will see you through pub quizzes and heated debates at the bar with enthusiasts. No longer will you be floundering in the world of ‘lawnmower’ drinks, plumping for recognisable names and not daring to dip your toes in the world of chocolate stout (which, by the way, is delicious), Kolsch or, dare I type it, lambics. Throwing one of these names into conversation with fellow pint guzzlers will surely seal your new-found insider status at the pumps.
On a practical note, this book is small enough to carry surreptitiously in your coat pocket for back-up, should you need to refresh your memory on all those technological zymurgy terms to impress friends and relatives. It’s also just the right size to pop in your suitcase before setting off on a Belgian beer adventure, as I hope to do someday. Make my first drink a Kwak, please, followed by a Cantillon Gueuze, and bring on the exotic flavours of orange and spice in my weizenbock; as for the unfiltered hefeweizen, just try and drag me away. I think all this newly accumulated knowledge is going to come in very handy… and I’m one step closer to pulling that first pint and carrying on the family tradition.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of the Bluffer’s Guide to Beer (and it certainly made me feel like an expert). As ever, all views are my own. If, like me, you genuinely love the concept of this snazzy little book and you want to see more from the series, I’d advise you to follow the publishers on Twitter – @BluffersGuide.