Pete Brown was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and still occasionally gets dewy-eyed about northern bitter. Since 1991, he has worked in London in various marketing roles, the best of which have involved advertising beer. He runs his own marketing consultancy, writes regularly for the brewing industry trade press, and appears on TV every now and then talking about beer.
Welcome to the George Inn, near London Bridge; a cosy, wood-pannelled, galleried coaching house a few minutes' walk from the Thames. Grab yourself a pint, listen to the chatter of the locals and lean back, resting your head against the wall. And then consider this: who else has rested their head against that wall, over the last 600 years?
Chaucer and his fellow pilgrims almost certainly drank in the George on their way out of London to Canterbury. It's fair to say that Shakespeare will have popped in from the nearby Globe for a pint, and we know that Dickens certainly did. Mail carriers changed their horses here, before heading to all four corners of Britain -- while sailors drank here before visiting all four corners of the world...
The pub, as Pete Brown points out, is the 'primordial cell of British life' and in the George he has found the perfect case study. All life is here, from murderers, highwaymen and ladies of the night to gossiping pedlars and hard-working clerks. So sit back and watch as buildings rise and fall over the centuries, as 'the beer drinker's Bill Bryson' (TLS) takes us on an entertaining tour through six centuries of history, through the stories of everyone that ever drank in one pub.
Praise for Shakespeare's Local:
“Brown’s research brings up such a multitude of stories and characters that, at times, reading this book feels less like an historical volume and more like quality elaborate fiction. Shakespeare’s Local is guaranteed to teach you English history in a way you’d never expect – and some pretty handy knowledge for pub quizzes along the way.” Bookseller
“For all the facts and anecdotes, it’s the author’s voice that really makes Shakespeare’s Local fun to read. Often-sarcastic footnotes and dropped-in gags (including a wonderfully stretched metaphor about the Sugababes) lend the book a feel that it’s all being told to you over a cosy pint. Which is rather fitting." Londonist
‘An exuberant social history written in a matey, tipsy-man-at-the-bar style... a literary version of a cracking pub crawl’ Telegraph
“Pete Brown's engaging and irreverent social history... frequently feels as if he's buttonholed you in the George itself to tell you an anecdote over a pint... he has countless fascinating stories to tell.” Observer
'Beer-lover Brown is charmingly modest, but he spins a stoutly colourful yarn, and ends with some bracing scepticism about the modern "heritage industry".’ Guardian
“Shakespeare's Local is an engaging, entertaining, often illuminating and wilfully digressive account of the history not only of the George but of an area of London that will be of interest to students of the capital and, en passant, of brewing, drinking, coaching inns and much more besides.” Herald
“Brown is an unashamed beer nerd but by some happy twist of fate he’s also a fascinating and engaging writer. Social history through the story of a single pub, told by a man you’d genuinely want to drink with.” Financial Times Best Books of 2012 (Food)
Praise for Pete Brown:
“This book is delightfully tongue in cheek but deeply informative. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of beer, travel or history, you’ll end up feeling all the more informed of and entertained by all three subjects. Engaging, side-splittingly funny at times – and all the more rewarding for it.”
“Like a good drinking companion, Pete Brown tells a remarkable story ... The beer drinkers’ Bill Bryson.”
Times Literary Supplement
“Like an evening in some louche boozer packed with crackpot regulars, this travel-cum-history book about India Pale Ale froths with offbeat charm.”
Boyd Tonkin, Independent
“The tale of his travels and the alcoholic history of the Raj is big beery fun.”
“The action-filled book by Pete Brown covers everything from the definitive history of Indian Pale Ale to the chaotic recreation of its 30,000 mile sea journey.”
“This account of his beer-inspired voyage is as entertaining as it is enlightening.”
London Review of Books
“An engaging travel tale ... whether you’re a beer aficionado or not, it’s a fascinating story.”
“This is one of the drink books of the year. Beer lovers should hope to find Hops and Glory beneath their Christmas tree.”
Having written MAN WALKS INTO A PUB, an irreverent book about beer drinking in Britain, Pete Brown thought he deserved a holiday. Leaving Britain was one thing, but getting away from beer proved impossible. While the British believe beer is, well, British, it seems a few others have cottoned on to the fact that its a damn fine drink. In fact, it turns out there are seven countries that make more beer than Britain and though it is hard to believe there are at least five countries that drink more beer per-head of the population. The Germans claim beer as their own; the Czechs, invented lager; the Chinese like their beer made from rice and the Spanish see it as trendy new drink, far more fashionable than wine. Whats going on? After a great deal of thought (about 15 seconds), Peter Brown decided the only way to find out was to go on the biggest pub crawl ever. Drinking in more than three hundred bars and pubs in 27 towns in 13 different countries on four different continents, Pete puts on a stone in weight and does irrecoverable damage to his liver in the pursuit of saloon bar enlightenment. On his way, he meets a wild cast of bleary eyed eccentrics and samples legendary local brews in legendary quantities, from Dublin to Tokyo. Its an epic challenge, a hilarious, life-changing, globe-trotting adventure to the heart of beer.
Pete Brown takes us on a well-lubricated pub-crawl through the amazing story of beer, from the first sacred sip of ancient Egyptian bouza to the last pint of lager on a Friday night. It's an extraordinary tale of yeast-obsessed monks and teetotal prime ministers; of how pale ale fuelled an Empire and weak bitter won a world war; of exploding breweries, a bear in a yellow nylon jacket and a Canadian bloke who changed the drinking habits of a nation. It's also the story of the rise of the pub from humble origins through an epic, thousand-year struggle to survive misunderstanding, bad government and misguided commerce. The history of beer in Britain is a social history of the nation itself, full of catastrophe, heroism and an awful lot of hangovers.
The original India Pale Ale was pure gold in a glass: a semi-mythical beer from the late 18th century, brewed in Britain to travel halfway around the world, through ocean storms and tropical sunshine, and arrive in perfect condition for a long, cold drink on an Indian veranda. And although you can still buy beers with 'IPA' on the label today, most are, frankly, pale imitations of the original.
For the first time in 140 years, a keg of traditional Burton IPA has been brewed for a voyage to India by canal and tall ship, around the Cape of Good Hope; and the man carrying it is award-winning beer writer Pete Brown. Brazilian pirates and Iranian customs officials lie ahead, but will he even make it that far, having fallen in the canal just a few miles outside Burton-on-Trent? 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 and new historical research with assured comedy, Hops and Glory is both a rollicking, raucous history of the Raj and a wonderfully entertaining, groundbreaking experiment to recreate the finest beer ever brewed.