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In Need of an Editor
on 28 July 2013
If you like beer and/or travel then you will probably enjoy this book but it is definitely more for the former than the latter although the trip from the UK to Brazil via Madeira is a pretty decent bit of travelogue. In short, the author commissions an age old beer recipe all but lost to today's beer drinkers (except in name only) and travels with the resultant keg from UK to Kolkata to see how the beer conditions itself during the four month journey.
The book alternates travel chapters with chapters on the history of IPA & the East India Company but I felt the history passages were overlong and interrupted the narrative flow of the travelogue - this could have been simply resolved by making them significantly shorter, 80-100 of the 450 pages could have been edited out without much loss (the history of IPA is interesting in itself but not worth 200 pages or so).
Getting to page 400 with all the historic diversions was not too onerous in the end but I found my interest waning so it was doubly disappointing that nothing really happened at the end with the India part of the trip confined to just a few dull pages. This is a real shame as India is such a fascinating country that stories just create themselves, especially if you're travelling with a 40 pint keg. Dear Reader, I don't think it's a plot spoiler to say he drinks the beer; unfortunately there's little more that happens.
So, mostly a downbeat review due to the abrupt ending and overlong history chapters. However, good in patches especially the first half.