Hops and Glory: One Man’s Search for the Beer That Built the British Empire

The Blurb

The original India Pale Ale was pure gold in a glass; a semi-mythical beer that evolve in the 18th century to travel halfway around the world, through storms and tropical sunshine, and arrive in perfect condition for a long, cool drink on an Indian verandah. But although you can still buy beers with ‘IPA’ on the label they are, to be frank, a pale imitation of the original.
For the first time in 140 years, a keg of Burton IPA has been brewed with the original recipe for a voyage to India by canal, cruise ship, tall ship and container ship, via Brazil, the Cape of Good Hope and the Indian Ocean; and the man carrying it is award-winning Pete Brown. Brazilian pirates and Iranian customs officials lie ahead, but will he even make it that far, have fallen in the canal just a few miles out of Burton? And if Pete does make it to the other side of the world with ‘Barry’ the barrel, one question remains: what will the real IPA taste like?
Weaving first-class travel writing with assured comedy, Hops and Gloryis both a rollicking, raucous history of the Raj and a wonderfully entertaining, groundbreaking experiment to recreate the finest beer ever produced.

Behind the Blurb

My third book happened because I won a prize for my second and everyone simply assumed I’d spend the winnings on more beery travel. I had no intention of doing so until, prompted by my friend Chris, I realised that the journey of IPA from England to Burton on Trent was being obsessively discussed and argued over in craft beer circles, but no one had actually taken the logical (if insane) step of attempting to recreate it. I didn’t actually decide to do this – the idea sort of enslaved me. It took hold of me, a form of madness that eventually had its day in the blistering sun on a container ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
I think this was my best written book to that point: the material allowed me to evolve my style from simple pub chattiness to a more lyrical tone. The book starts with a midnight symphony of light and sound in the middle of the Atlantic – shooting stars, flying fish, moaning wind and dazzling phosphorescence creating the best night’s entertainment I’ve ever had.
This is intercut with a detailed history of IPA in which I turned up a lot of new information from various archives. I feel that this aspect sometimes gets overlooked beside the epic journey.
It’s my most personal book. It changed my life. It changed me. And it won me my first Beer Writer of the Year gong. I’d do the whole insane debacle again tomorrow if I could.


Best Beer Travel Writing, British Guild of Beer Writers Awards 2009