I waited 10 years to read this book, what a mistake! Great read on the real history of India Pale Ale, at the same time an amusing travelouge of a man trying to bring a barrel of beer from Burton to Calcutta on the route it would have taken about 150 years ago.
I was given this book over 10 years ago (by my mum I think) and it has moved from country to country with us constantly being on my reading list but never making it to the top. The subject was of interest, but never enough so that I wanted to read this book over a more recent purchase. It has sat in our cellar for the last 6 years in a box with most of my paperback books. In the summer this year, due to a combination of a stay at home summer holiday (The Situation) and that I am no longer reading only eBooks, we unpacked our remaining boxes and I found this book again. I somewhat guiltily placed into my current pile of books to read, expecting that it might have the same fate as last time.
One afternoon I decided to start on the first chapter thinking as it was non-fiction it might make a good book for me to dip into every-so-often, however I got hooked. I really like the author’s writing style and perhaps as we are both English males of a similar age I found I shared a lot of his opinions and memories.
The story of India Pale Ale (IPA), how it came to exist, what it’s legacy today is, and it’s relationship to the IPA beer I drunk when younger (Greene King IPA) were all a suprise to me. I did not for instance realise that Burton hosted in the largest breweries in the world at one point, and that many of the brewers who went on to brew some of the most famous and most popular beers we still have, trained in Burton’s Breweries. I was even suprised to read that the paleness of IPA was the inspiriation in Pilsen for the now very famous brewing style, and Pils was the beer that ultimately stopped the world domination of IPA and the Burton Breweries.
The travellouge of Pete and his barrel of beer Barry is also interesting, with a few ups and downs, and unexpected twists of it’s own. All in all a very enjoyable read, but it may be one only applicable to English guys of a certain age who enjoy Pale Ale.