The untold story of a British institution.
Pete Brown is a convivial guide on this journey through the intoxicating history of the working men’s clubs. From the movement’s founding by teetotaller social reformer the Reverend Henry Solly to the booze-soaked mid-century heyday, when more than 7 million Brits were members, this warm-hearted and entertaining book reveals how and why the clubs became the cornerstone of Britain’s social life – offering much more than cheap Federation Bitter and chicken in a basket.
Often dismissed as relics of a bygone age – bastions of bigotry and racism – Brown reminds us that long before the days of Phoenix Nights, 3,000-seat venues routinely played host to stars like Shirley Bassey, Louis Armstrong, and the Bee Gees, offering entertainment for all the family, and close to home at that. Britain’s best-known comedians made reputations through a thick miasma of smoke, from Sunniside to Skegness. For a young man growing up in the pit town of Barnsley this was a radiant wonderland that transformed those who entered.
Brown explores the clubs’ role in defining masculinity, community and class identity for generations of men in Britain’s industrial towns. They were, at their best, a vehicle for social mobility and self-improvement, run as cooperatives for working people by working people: an informal, community-owned pre-cursor to the Welfare State.
As the movement approaches its 160th anniversary, this exuberant book brings to life the thrills and the spills of a cultural phenomenon that might still be rescued from irrelevance.
The British Guild of Beer Writers
Pete is a Board member and former Chair of the British Guild of Beer Writers, which exists “…to improve standards of beer writing and extend the public knowledge of beer.” If you write, tweet, gram, podcast or take photos about beer and pubs, and you like to socialise with and learn from others who do, find out more here.
The Beer and Cider Marketing Awards
Pete was one of the original founders and Chair of Judges for the UK Beer and Cider Marketing Awards. After a four-year hiatus, he’s teamed up with BrewLDN to bring the awards back. The latest event was held virtually in September, and we’ll return in 2023!
LATEST FROM THE BLOG: Six Reasons Cask Ale-Loving Publicans Should Immediately Whack the Price Up* (*Relative to other drinks they serve)
It sounds counter-intuitive. Especially when drinkers face the prospect of losing any disposable income we may have had. But all the available market data suggests that the best way to sell more cask ale is to make it more expensive in comparison to other drinks on the bar. Here’s why, in six handy points.
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A journey through the intoxicating history of the working men’s clubs. From the movement’s founding by teetotaller social reformer the Reverend Henry Solly to the booze-soaked mid-century heyday, when more than 7 million Brits were members, this warm-hearted and entertaining book reveals how and why the clubs became the cornerstone of Britain’s social life – offering much more than cheap Federation Bitter and chicken in a basket.
In this lavishly illustrated book, acclaimed beer writer Pete Brown traces the history of beer label design back to the UK s first-ever trade mark and beyond. He explores the conventions of successful beer design (and how they are now being shattered) and explains the tricks and secrets of great design in a compelling and highly readable narrative.
Craft – An Argument: Why the term ‘Craft Beer’ is completely undefinable, hopelessly misunderstood and absolutely essential.
Winner, Best Beer Book, North American Guild of Beer Writers Awards 2020. I’ve always been as fascinated as I have been frustrated with the ongoing debate over the “definition” of craft beer. And then, one day in 2019, I picked up a book about “craft” which said nothing about beer but inspired me to look more broadly at the notion of “craft” in general. There were plenty of parallels with the discussions happening in beer, but lots of differences as well. It was those differences that I found most interesting.