If you’re resident in the US or Canada and you’ve thought about buying a copy of my new book Amber Gold and Black, the British beer styles bible, but you’ve been put off by the cost of shipping it from the UK, good news – my publisher tells me the book will be available in North America from June, and details will be going up on Amazon.com “within the month”.
If you can’t wait – or you’re in the UK or Ireland and you’re not finding Amber Gold and Black in your local bookshop now – you can order it through Amazon.co.uk by clicking here. If you don’t like dealing with big corporations you can order it through my mate Paul Travis at BeerInnPrint (which should, in any case, be your first stop for all your beer book needs …)
Meanwhile here’s the intro from Amber Gold and Black, to give you a taster:
“Britain is one of the world’s greatest brewing nations: a fact the British themselves often seem to be unaware of. We need to be much more proud of what we have given ourselves and the world: beautiful, refreshing hoppy bitters and IPAs, golden summer ales for hot days in the garden, heady, rich barley wines, unctuous winter warmers, cheering, sociable, conversation-encouraging milds, creamy, reviving black porters and hearty, filling stouts, barley wines and old ales for sipping and relaxing, beers that go with food of all sorts and beers that can be enjoyed on their own, beer styles born in these islands and now appreciated and brewed from San Francisco to Singapore, and St Petersburg to Sydney.
“This book is a celebration of the depths of British beer, a look at the roots of the styles we enjoy today, as well as those ales and beers we have lost, a study into how the liquids that fill our beer glasses, amber gold and black, developed over the years and a look forward to some of the new styles of beer being developed in Britain in the 21st century, such as ales aged in casks that once contained whisky or rum.
“Astonishingly, despite a greatly increased interest in beer as a subject in Britain over the past 30 or so years, this is the first book devoted solely to looking at the unique history of the different styles of beer produced in Britain, more world-conquering styles, it might be suggested, than any other nation has managed.
“It may be a good thing that Britons would rather be down the pub enjoying their beer with friends than sitting on their own at home reading about it. But I hope that learning more about, for example, how bitter grew and developed out of the Victorian middle classes’ desire for the then newly fashionable pale ales once exclusively enjoyed by the gentry, how the demand by the street and river porters of London for a filling, strength-giving beer to help them get through the working day eventually gave us a style that, in Irish arms, circled the globe, how a style developed for Baltic aristocrats became Burton Ale, one of the most popular beers in Britain until a couple of generations ago and now almost forgotten; how beers such as broom ale, mum and West Country white ale once thrived and then vanished, how the huge boom in brewery numbers in Britain in the past 30 years, with more than 500 microbreweries now in operation, has helped bring in new styles such as golden ale and wood-aged beers; and even how 19th century British brewers helped inspire the development of modern lager, all may add to the enjoyment of your beer-drinking, wherever you are doing it, and encourage you to appreciate the marvellous drink, beer, more, and to explore further its many offerings.
“In addition, detailing the long histories behind Britain’s beers may go some way to restoring respect for the country’s national drink. While Thomas Hardy could write in his novel The Trumpet Major of Dorchester beer that: “The masses worshipped it; the minor gentry loved it more than wine, and by the most illustrious county families it was not despised,” today beer is seldom given the position at the heart of British gastronomic life that it deserves. British food grew and developed alongside beer, and the two complement each other, just as French or Italian food is complemented by wine. Roast beef is fantastic with pale ale, porter is terrific with steak or lamb, stout is great with pork and chicken, or spicy foods, and any British cheese has its companion beer, from Cheddar and bitter to Stilton and barley wine – and desserts go just as well with beer too, as anyone who has tried apricot clafoutis with IPA, strong ale with plum pudding or chocolate stout with good vanilla ice-cream will affirm.
“In short this book is a celebration of British beer in all its many beautiful shades and inspiring flavours. Good drinking!”