Tag: Hops and Glory

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H&G Update

The initial launch may have settled down but I’m continuing to flog my new book up and down the country.

If you’re going to the White Horse American Beer Festival, I’m there tomorrow all afternoon, signing books and chatting from around 5pm.
The following day I’m back in Burton-on-Trent, signing in Waterstone’s in town from noon for about two hours.
Then, next week I’m at the Derby Beer Festival opening reception on Wednesday 8th, and am giving a reading the following day at Sheffield’s fantastic Devonshire Cat pub.
reviews are now also starting to trickle in slowly, and people seem to like it!  The Times calls it “big beery fun”, and the London Review of Books claims it’s “as enlightening as it is entertaining.”  Both reviews are short and sweet – for a bit more depth, check out ATJ, Semi-Dweller, and an epic four-parter from Alan McCleod!

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Feeling privileged…

… because I was recently asked to name a new beer!  Seaforth is the latest release fromThornbridge, an ‘English’ India Pale Ale. 

This is blue and the text doesn’t look weird until I post it here.  
I’ve no idea why blogger has had a go at changing the design.

What this means is that it’s similar to Jaipur, but brewed with 100% English ingredients, making it much closer to what the early nineteenth century IPAs would have been like.  I haven’t had chance to taste it yet, but it’s dry-hopped, darker than many IPAs, and very hoppy, according to head brewer Stef.  I can’t wait to try it.

Why Seaforth?  Well, it sounds like a good name for an IPA, doesn’t it? BUt it has a very special place in IPA’s history.
Anyone who’s read J Stevenson Bushnan’s 1853 book ‘Burton and its Bitter Beer’ will know that the two ships that transported the first cargo of Samuel Allsopp’s India Ale from Liverpool to Calcutta were the Bencoolen and the Seaforth.  The Seaforth arrived a few weeks after the Bencoolen, so what makes it special?
Well, when I was in the Indian National Library in Calcutta, I found the edition of the Calcutta Gazette from 1823, around the time these ships arrived.  At that time, London brewer George Hodgson dominated the Indian market and was restricting supply to maximise his profit, refusing credit terms to everyone, and generally pissing off the most powerful corporation the world has ever known.  The cargo of Allsopp’s ale that arrived on the Bencoolen sold for about two thirds of what Hodgson’s did, such was his reputation, and on that basis Allsopp would have failed – and that would have meant no Burton IPA.  But one of the ads around the arrival of the Seaforth reveal an extraordinary stroke of luck:
To be sold by Public Auction, by Messrs Taylor & Co, on the CUSTOM HOUSE WHARF, by permission of the Collector of Sea Customs, at eleven o’ Clock precisely, on Saturday next, the 28th Instant, 48 HOGSHEADS of Hodgson’s BEER, and 17 empty HOGSHEADS, landed from the ship Timandra, and 30 hogsheads of Hodgson’s BEER, landed from the ship Seaforth. 
Hodgson had sent out a dodgy batch of beer on the same ship as Allsopp’s second consignment, which had arrived in perfect condition.  This allowed Allsopp to get into the market, and the consignment on the Seaforth sold for double that on the Bencoolen.  People then tasted IPA brewed in Burton for the first time, realised how superior it was to London IPA, and the rest is history.  You can read that history in Hops and Glory of course.  
So what better name for an English IPA brewed just up the road from Burton? 

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Normal service about to be resumed.

My audience at the Borders Book Festival was marginally bigger than that shown here.
It’s been a crazy, fantastic few weeks around the book launch.  As you can tell by my lack of posting, my feet have hardly touched the ground.  There are so many stories I wanted to share, but I’ve forgotten most of them.
Billy and Declan proved to sceptical Three Sheets readers that they are indeed real, and that I did not exaggerate them in any way.  The Animal Lover With No Arms now looks at them suspiciously when they run into him in Galway, so we think they’ve been rumbled.  At first they thought they might get away with it because no-one in his family can read, but word has got out.  And Declan informed us that he has been diagnosed with scurvy.  When the doctor asked him when he had last eaten fruit, he replied, “Ah, that would be the early 1980s.”
The following week, the drunkenness moved to Burton on Trent.  I was invited to lunch at the Burton Club – an institution I didn’t even know existed when I wrote Hops & Glory, but which was founded by the men I’ve spent two years researching.  On to the Coopers Tavern for the Burton book launch.  A more intimate and less glamorous affair than Brew Wharf, but with attendees from White Shield, Thornbridge, Acorn, Burton Bridge and the Crown Brewery at Sheffield’s Hillsbrough Hotel, it was great to get a gaggle of brewers around to taste the last remaining cask of Calcutta IPA.  At nearly two years old, it was starting to resemble the beer I opened in India after the journey.  A wonderful experience… until someone knocked the cask and it fell to the floor, churned up, but still about half full.  Ah well.  Was invited to brew IPAs by both Acorn and Crown, and will be doing so in July, around the Derby Beer Festival and my reading at the Devonshire Cat on the 9th.  Me and Mrs Pete Brown’s Beer Blog will also be brewing again at Thornbridge that week.  I really am spoilt.  And getting Mrs PBBB to clean out the copper should be the spectator event of the year.
The following weekend saw me rubbing shoulders with Richard Stilgoe and John McCarthy on Excess Baggage on Radio 4, which seems to have gone down really well, and I got my sailing piece in the Guardian (before you follow this link – I’m sorry about the headline.  This was a sub-editor who simply didn’t know any better.  I would never knowingly try to appropriate the title they gave me).  Sales went berserk as a result – Amazon ran out and everything, so I was well pleased.  Spent the day at the Beers of the World Live/BBC Good Food Show on the Worthington White Shield stand, and the response was fantastic – hopefully a lot of fathers were pleased last Sunday, because I signed an awful lot of books to people who felt they’d found the perfect gift.  
White Shield are sponsoring my reading tour and couldn’t be more helpful.  If you live around the Midlands look out for Hops and Glory Ale, a special cask version of White Shield with the book cover design on the pump clip.  And soon, White Shield in Sainsburys will carry a neck collar offering a great deal on the book.  This legendary beer isn’t that easy to get hold of, but it’s having a huge renaissance and the ancient, creaking former museum brewery can’t brew enough beer to meet demand.  It’s a fantastic experience to take it round and introduce it to people who have never tasted it before – a true taste of a traditional English IPA.
And then it was off to Scotland.  Attendance at my Scottish launch event was disappointing because we’d moved the date from Thurs to Weds, only to find we’d moved it into a direct clash with an Oasis gig and, just a hundred yards away, the launch of the Edinburgh Film Festival.  But it was great to have the Caledonian Brewery to ourselves.  I had a fascinating chat with a woman from The Scotsman, and met a journalist whose girlfriend is a direct descendant of Samuel Allsopp!  I spent so long trying to find info on him, and here at the launch I was hearing that there are lots of family stories about him, few of which are complimentary.
And on Saturday, down to the tiny town of Melrose for the Borders Book Festival, which has nothing to do with the chain, but is organised by a bunch of wildly enthusiastic and kind people who live there.  It takes place in a few marquees in the grounds of a beautiful big old house.  And after I got over the shock and nervousness and feeling of being inadequate and a fraud to be in the same room and on the same bill as Ian Rankin, Vince Cable, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Jim Naughtie and David Aaronovich, I had a fantastic time.  My reading was well-attended, and the complimentary Deuchars IPA was swiftly despatched.  If you love books, do yourself a favour and go to this festival next year.  I certainly will be, even if it is as a paying punter rather than a performer.
My tour continues throughout the summer.  Please do come along if I’m near you.  There’ll be free beer and everything.
Hopefully now though, I can get back to talking about beer and pubs and the wonderful and frustrating industry I find myself stuck in. 

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Busy Weekend

Forgive the completely self-promotional nature of this post.  However: 

  • Tomorrow (Saturday 13th June) at 10am I’m the lead item on Excess Baggage on Radio 4.  If you’re not sitting by a radio in the UK at 10am GMT you can probably listen to it here after transmission.
  • Tomorrow’s Guardian also carries a long piece by me about life on Europa, the fantastic tall ship I took as part of my voyage to India.  Not only that, but the guide to summer pubs, free in tomorrow’s paper, also features (hopefully) several of my reviews of my favourite pubs.
  • And if you’re around the Midlands, come to the BBC Good Food Show.  Beers of the World Live is part of it.  The Worthington White Shield stand is part of that.  And I’m part of that – signing books.
Yes, it’s the first ever Pete Brown media over-exposure day.  Get everyone you know to buy my book, and I promise I’ll get out of your face.

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Hangover on tour

Great launch event in Burton last night for Hops and Glory – going to put photos up tomorrow.

Meanwhile tonight sees my first reading and signing at The Hob, Dartmouth Road, Lewisham, organised by Lewisham Library.  If you’re close enough to beat the tube strike, come and join us!

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Finally recovered the use of my hands and head

Editor, author and international beer smuggler.  From l to r: Larry Nelson, editor of Brewers’ Guardian, Jeff Pickthall, beer blogger and smuggler, and me 

This seems a little trivial now in light of this morning’s news, but my book finally launched on Thursday night.
It was even better than I’d hoped – a fantastic party that made me feel very humble.  Lots of IPA was consumed.  Loads of my mates came.  Loads of beer writers and bloggers came.  Neil Morrissey and Richard Fox came.  
Beer blokes from off the telly.
The secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group came.  
Robert Humphreys of the Parliamentary Beer group – no, he’s NOT asking for a copy on expenses!
And Billy and Declan came.
Mrs Pete Brown’s Beer Blog with Declan (l) and Billy (r, with crutch after kickboxing accident.  He was kicking some boxes and hurt his foot.)
More about Billy and Dec later, but if you read Three Sheets to the Wind and thought I’d made them up, or exaggerated them, I didn’t.  They came from Galway to get drunk at my party.
Thanks to everyone who came.  Thanks to the people from Pan Macmillan for organising it and ALWAYS doing more for me and my books than they should by rights.
And thanks so much to Brew Wharf, which is where we held the party.  Since it opened, Brew Wharf, part of Vinopolis, never quite succeeded in being the beery mecca it so obviously should be.  It’s a great space, but it’s just round the corner from the Market Porter and the Rake, two of London’s best beer pubs, and has never given the impression that it celebrates beer as much as you think it should – the fact that they had more wines than beers on their drinks list – in a place called Brew Wharf – kind of said it all.  
But all that is now changing.  I was contacted a few months ago by Ben, the new manager, who is passionate about beer and was very keen to build new links with the beery world.  They’ve expanded the beer range (now more beers than wines!) guest bottles change, there’s a microbrewery on site which produces very palatable session beers, and I’m not sure if there’s any left after my party, but Meantime IPA was on draft along with a number of other great beers.  If you’ve visited before and left unimpressed, it’s time to give Brew Wharf another chance.  If you’ve never been before, now’s the time to go! It was the perfect venue for my party.

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Hops and Glory: a week to go – or is it?

Very excited about the book coming out in just a week.  But I’m getting e-mails this morning from people who ordered their copies on Amazon that it’s shipping already!  

Copies of the book are dropping (heavily) on to doormats as we speak.
So if you can’t wait another seven days, order you copy on Amazon.co.uk now!

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Hops and Glory latest

If you haven’t already seen my facebook group please check it out.

I just added some photos from the brewing of the beer and the setting off from Burton.  I’ll be adding photo from the rest of the trip over the next few weeks.
And I just tidied up the labelling of my previous posts.  If you click on Hops and Glory in the label cloud, below right, you’ll now get all the posts I did before, during and after the journey – kind of a sneak preview of the book!  You need to start at the bottom, obviously. Very weird looking back on it now…

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My baby is delivered

Postie just delivered the first finished copy of Hops and Glory, hot from the printers.  Boy, it’s a good-looking object. Critics of my blogging style (Hi, Jeff) will be greatly amused by its 458-page girth. What can I say? It would have been more like 700 pages without the tender but firm hand of my publishers who, apart from getting my manuscript down to a sane length, have clothed it and brushed it up to make it look very fine indeed. Thanks, guys.

Four weeks today, it goes out into the world on its own.
I’m so proud!