Pete Brown

Author, Broadcaster, Consultant, Beer Lover

Pete Brown is a British author, journalist, broadcaster and consultant specialising in food and drink. Across twelve books, his broad, fresh approach takes in social history, cultural commentary, travel writing, personal discovery and natural history, and his words are always delivered with the warmth and wit you’d expect from a great night down the pub. He writes for newspapers and magazines around the world, and is a regular contributor to radio and podcasts. He was named British Beer Writer of the Year in 2009, 2012, 2016 and 2021, has won three Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards, been shortlisted twice for the Andre Simon Awards, and in 2020 was named an “Industry Legend” at the Imbibe Hospitality Awards. He was recently accused of being the 31st most important person in the drinks industry. He lives in Norwich and London with his wife Liz, and dog Mildrid.

A bit more background

Pete Brown was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and much against his better judgment, still supports its football team.

After graduating from the University of St Andrews, Pete spent ten years in advertising, helping some of the world’s biggest brands with their marketing strategy. Most famously, he persuaded Heineken to ditch its ‘Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach’ slogan just weeks before it was named the most successful advertising slogan of all time. He also worked on Stella Artois’ ‘Reassuringly Expensive’ campaign, for which he wrote several award-winning papers proving its commercial effectiveness.

After looking for a book that explained the British love for beer but not being able to find it, Pete wrote Man Walks Into A Pub: A Sociable History of Beer (2003, revised 2010). It sold so well that it was almost turned into a BBC TV series, but was pipped at the final commissioning meeting by a series about mountains. Mountains.

Its follow up, Three Sheets to the Wind (2006) and then Hops & Glory (2009, ) Shakespeare’s Local (2012), The Pub: A Cultural Institution (2016) and Miracle Brew (2017) have all been critically well received, as well as appearing across the national media. Shakespeare’s Local was BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week at launch in December 2012, and Miracle Brew was shortlisted for the Andre Simon Best Drinks Book Award in 2017.

After being asked repeatedly to offer views on cider, which is a completely different drink from beer, Pete teamed up with photographer and cider evangelist Bill Bradshaw to learn about the world’s most misunderstood drink and write the Guide to Welsh Cider and Perry (2013) and World’s Best Cider (2013). He followed this up in 2016 with The Apple Orchard – a journey through the magic and history of the English apple, which was BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week in November 2016 and was shortlisted for several awards. From here he diversified into food with Pie Fidelity (2019), a defence of traditional British cuisine.

In the 2020 Covid Lockdown Pete wrote and self-published Craft: An Argument with his wife Liz, which was named Best Beer Book at the North American Guild of Beer Writers Awards. Pete and Liz also produced Beer By Design: The Art of Good Beer Branding, combining their marketing expertise with their love of beer. In 2022, Pete’s latest book, Clubland: How the Working Men’s Club Shaped Britain, told the story of an almost-ignored British institution, and was once again broadcast as BBC Radio 4″s Book of the Week in January 2023.

He is a consultant and marketing strategist to brewers and their agencies, where his knowledge of the beer and the wider drinks industry as well as his advertising experience offers a unique overview of some of the challenges they face.

Somewhat inevitably, Pete is often called upon at corporate events, where his after-dinner speeches and keynote conference presentations almost always involve a Man Walks Into A Pub joke.

Pete is now one of the most recognised beer writers in the UK, is broadening his scope to cover food and drink more broadly, and is delighted that his books have been translated into over two languages.


CLUBLAND: How the Working Men’s Club Shaped Britain

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.

Beer By Design: The Art of Good Beer Branding

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.

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