on 17 September 2009
The first of Pete's books I read was 'Hops & Glory'. On having finished that I moved straight on to this book, and after the high I felt from the former, the latter has been equally enthralling.
I've travelled a lot, lived outside of the UK for years, enjoyed beers wherever I've gone, but it's only having read Pete's books that I've started to look at beer worldwide in a completely new light. Pete invites us to savour beer, to enjoy what it's offering us (as long as it's not from Budweiser in the US) in terms of colour, aroma, flavour, social lubrication, etc.
This book has made me want to travel again, to go back to some of those places that I've been (many of which Pete visits) and to re-assess what I experienced there.
Bravo, a wonderful piece of beery travel writing.
on 10 December 2007
I picked this up fearing some kind of Bill Bryson-with-booze comedy travelogue but was pleasantly surprised. Brown is a man who is clearly enchanted with beer and it's importance in our social history and contemporary culture both at home and abroad. He travels to various cities in countries renowned for their inhabitants' love of beer - Ireland, Denmark, America, Australia etc., to see how they do things there and why. He explores the differences in approach to beer-brewing, consumption and related folklore in foreign lands - and also the similarities many of us will recognize. It's actually a tricky premise for a novel in that it could come over as a dusty work of sociology or end up like Pete McCarthy's jokey, shallow, over-rated "McCarthy's Bar". But Brown pulls it off with fresh writing, genuine wit, telling insight and above all a great affinity for the places he visits and the people he meets. My one quibble would be with the bits of dialogue with friends at the outset of the early chapters which read as bit studenty and unfunny. Intended to provide the author with a justification device for his travels, they just annoy.
That's a small complaint however about an otherwise excellent read.
on 9 January 2008
Anyone enjoys beer (responsibly of course)and drinking should read this book. Not only is it funny and well written, but it also highlights a very important point thats relevant to our country. Why can every other country in the world get drunk and not start fighting?
This is one of those books that you are truly gutted about it ending.
I can't recommend this book enough, also try 'Man walks into a pub' a very close second in the beer related book chart!
On the very barest of excuses, our man Pete embarks on a 3 month international pub crawl and tells you about it. An unpromising premise, but this is packed with enough insight, history and entertaining anecdote to make the journey worthwhile. I was hoping for a bit more of an insight into beer drinking other than it being good for relaxing and socialising, but he was probably a bit hungover by the time he got to that bit. I don't drink beer but the book has made me book a trip to Belgium this summer to check his recommendations out.
Pete Brown wants to see whether there is a common thread that links beer drinkers worldwide, so he travels to those places where that honourable tradition is most respected, namely Madrid, Barcelona, Prague, London, Dublin, Brussels, Milwaukee, New York, Portland, Sydney, Penrith, Melbourne, Bendigo, Shanghai, Tokyo, Munich, Copenhagen, Helsingr, Sweden and...Barnsley. As you might expect there are some amusing adventures to be had, but the book is well worth reading for two other reasons. Firstly, it makes an irresistible travel guide and will make you desperate to re/visit a few places immediately (namely Barcelona, Madrid, Portland (!) and the Oktoberfest)and secondly, it manages to come to an important conclusion about beer; it's magical stuff that is essential for the continued sanity and sociality of all good cultures, and as a result every Pro-nanny state MP should be force-fed it's contents. This is no beardy, CAMRA lovers guide by the way...its about the feeling beer gives you. Beers in!
on 11 September 2014
I was looking for a book to take on this year's holiday to Spain, a piece of travel writing rather than a travel guide, and coming across 'Three Sheets to the Wind', it was only a moment or two before I realised it was the same Pete Brown who had written the wonderful 'Shakespeare's Local' about the history of the 'George Inn' in Shoreditch. So the deal was done, and I knew I was going to enjoy this. In fact by the time I came to my visit to Alicante, I had already finished the chapter on Spain and the Spanish beer culture, but it didn't matter, because Mr Brown had still got to take in Ireland, Czech Republic, Belgium, Australia, the United States, Japan, Germany, Denmark....oh and his native Barnsley! Rest assured, this is no boring tome that will only be of interest to those who are interested in the intricacies of the brewing process, this is first and foremost about the enjoyment of beer, and how national identities and cultures are forged by it. And to reiterate a point: when I say beer, I don't mean just real ale, as lager, stouts, fruit beers and pils are given their due reverence too. It is as much a piece of travel writing, taking in history, architecture, politics, brewing dynasties, economics and cuisine. It's also a sly satire on brewing conglomerate 'Anheuser-Busch' ('where making friends is our business!') who appear more or less throughout the book as a running joke/villain and mark Mr Brown out as a satirist to rival the great Michael Moore.
Of course, you'll probably get the most out of this book if beer is your tipple of choice, and it's actually quite hard to read without wanting to have a glass of whatever he's drinking at the time to reach, (I popped out to the supermarket on more than one occasion to hunt down various bottles, despite what he says about drinking on your own) and furthermore a lot of pleasure I gained from it was because I've visited many of the countries already and drunk in one or two of the same bars as he has (well, it feels like I have anyway!). Just as 'Shakespeare's Local' made me go and visit the 'George Inn' you'll want to book a flight as soon as possible - I've got to go to Germany's 'Oktoberfest' and 'Nyhavn' in Denmark before I die!..If I did have a of quibble, I'd say it would have been nice to have had some photographs of him on his various nights out across the globe. This is a book you'll want to share with friends (like a beer!) and it's already on this year's Christmas list for my good friend in Belgium Mr Herwig Six.
Oh, and the final chapter, which is a bit like the last drink in the local after everyone else has jst left, is simultaneously depressing, poignant and uplifting. So here's to you Mr Brown...
on 23 February 2013
In places in the book Pete Brown made me smile, with his descriptions of the bars he visited and the people he met. But, I'm sorry to say, I just got bored with all the talk of beer and breweries eventually and never quite got to the end. For me, the variety of topics was just too limited but beer aficianados would appreciate it. I'd prefer him to write an out and out travel book.
on 21 February 2014
A fair read but in the end a bit self-indulgent (but there again an international pub-crawl was always going to be wasn't it).
Much preferred Shakespeare's Local (and aim to read A Man Walks Into A Pub soon)
on 26 September 2010
Pete Brown, you are indeed a spawny get, as well as a very informed, interesting and entertaining author. I really enjoyed the book, and will be going to some of the pubs in the book.
on 30 August 2013
Really enjoyed this book which is full of history and entertainment about getting beer to India similar to how it was achieved by others many, many years ago.