Seeing the World through a Pint Glass: The Bluffer’s Guide to Beer

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.

Boat trip in Thailand with bright blue deck

A forlorn-looking empty box of Chang beer sat on our boat during a snorkelling trip in Koh Tao.

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.

Vintage beer ad. Credit:

Thank God we’ve moved on from this kind of advertising. Credit:

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.

Drinking a pint in Berlin

Girls can – and will – drink beer too. Happy to prove my point here in Berlin…

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.

Jazz club with glass of beer.

Trying a Frisco in Prague.

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.

4 responses to “Seeing the World through a Pint Glass: The Bluffer’s Guide to Beer

  1. I love trying different craft beers! It was one of my favourite things about moving to England, the pub life and the different brews that come with it. This might be a handy little book though, I like knowing the history of things. And pulling pints, it’s not that exciting 🙂

    • I agree, Dannielle, learning about pub life in England is really interesting (and it’s a great way to get to know our funny English quirks!). I will have to take your word for it about pulling pints, haha.

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