Saturday, 30 August 2014

Recommended Brewing History Books.

Once again Boak and Bailey's call for long reads has prompted me to pull my finger out. I don't think this will be my lengthiest post but there's links here to stuff that will keep you going for weeks.

Back in May when Chris Marchbanks gave a talk on brewing history he gave out a list of books he recommended. Here's the list with comments and some suggestions of my own. I've provided links for the books which in some cases link will take you to the complete book online, in others it's to an online retailer. Some of the books are dirt cheap and some are dead expensive.

Brewing History Books
30 or so of the must have/read interesting old and new books about all aspects of the history of beer, brewing and related topics.

Reynolde Scot – A Perfect Platform of a Hoppe Garden (1574)

This is the earliest English book on hops, to give you some idea of the age it's worth noting that the author is better known for his other book The Discoverie of Witchcraft.

Hubert H Parker – The Hop Industry (1934)
Not online but well worth reading if you can get hold of a copy as it a wealth of interesting historical information. I've posted a few titbits from it but I really should get round to doing more.
Ray A Neve –Hops (1991)
Out of print for many years and generally going for around two hundred quid a copy, I gave up trying to find a copy at a price I was prepared to pay and got my local library to order it for me, which was at the much more reasonable three quid if I remember rightly. Now re-printed in paperback but still pricey.

Malt and Malting

H Stopes – Malt and Malting (1885)

Classical malting text from the father of Marie Stopes, and this one's online.

Hugh Lancaster – Practical Floor Malting (1908)

This one can be searched in google books. 

Dennis E Briggs –Malts and Malting (1998)

A current text book from one side of the great barley modification controversy. Sadly it's not cheap, but on the plus side it's in the library at work.

Christine Clark – The British Malting Industry Since 1830 (1998)

Not read this one but some second hand copies are going at a reasonable rate.

Not read this one.

Or this one.

W L Tizard – The Theory and Practice of Brewing (1843)

Fortunately this one can be downloaded. Not that I have yet, but the books are starting to pile up around me again so it will have to wait.

L Pasteur – Studies on Fermentation (1879)

This one can also be downloaded. It's interesting to note that Pasteur didn't recommend pasteurisation for beer, though he did for wine. Things didn't work out as he suggested though, as much beer is now routinely pasteurised whereas it's hardly used with wine.

H Lloyd Hind – Brewing Science and Practice (2 vols) (1938)

I've heard these books still fetch a good price as a lot of the information is still relevant for modern cask ale brewers. Another one in the work library for me, though it can be searched on google books if your work library isn't so well stocked.

Hough, Briggs and Stevens – Malting and Brewing Science (2 vols) (1971)

Another one that's not cheap, but when it's in your work library that isn't such a concern. It's on google books.


Arthur Hartley – The Bottling of English Beers (1906)

For some reason this book is currently unavailable. Surely a re-print is due?

Couldn't find this one online either so it seems my knowledge of the history of beer packaging is going to stay limited.

Biographical/Brewery Company Histories

Guy Thorne – The Great Acceptance – FN Charrington (1913)

One that is online. I only got ten percent of the way through it before giving up though as it's about a brewery heir who rejected his inheritance and devoted his life promoting abstinence and evangelical christianity. All very interesting I'm sure, just not to me.

Walter P Serocold – The Story of Watneys (1949)

This one is on google books.

Sydney O Neville – Seventy Rolling Years (1958)

He had a long career in the brewing industry and his portrait is in Brewers' Hall. I got hold of a copy of the book after a recommendation from Ron and it is an excellent read.

Colin C Owen – Greatest Brewery in the World – Bass Ratcliffe and Gretton (1992)

On google books.

Jonathan Guinness –Requiem for a Family Business (1997)

This one can be got at a reasonable rate, though I haven't read it yet myself.


Richardson and Eberlein – The English Inn Past and Present (1925)

Haven't got this one.

Mark Girouard – Victorian Pubs (1975)

On google books. 

Peter Clark – The English Alehouse 1200 – 1830 (1983)

As is this one.


Alfred Barnard – Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland (4 vols) (1889)

These beauties are all online in PDF format.

Michael Jackson – The World Guide to Beer – 1977

On google books and The New World Guide to Beer can be snapped up cheap. From a quick comparison I don't think there's a huge difference between the two editions so if you're interested I'd get that one.

Pete Brown –Hops and Glory (2009)

My favourite of noted historian Pete Brown's books, his other offerings are also well worth a read.

General and Brewing History

John Bickerdyke – TheCuriosities of Ale and Beer (1889)

This one is online.

This one's on google books.

H S Corran – A History of Brewing (1975)

As is this one.

Gourvish and Wilson –The British Brewing Industry, 1830-1980 (1994)

But this one isn't, though it is in the work library.

Brian Harrison – Drink and the Victorian 1825 – 1872 (1994)

Also available on google books.

Martyn Cornell –Beer: The Story of the Pint (2003)

A great book from the man behind the excellent Zythophile blog. Also well worth reading is his
Amber, Gold and Black: The History of Britain's Great Beers, and he has his own list of recommended beer history books here.

Ron Pattinson – Numbers! (2008)

I must have half a dozen of Ron's book, including the one I'm mentioned by name in, but I must admit this isn't one of them. I know Ron has a fondness for long tables of as many statistics as he can get hold of. As this book has the title 'Numbers!' I suspect that's exactly what it is: lots and lots of numbers with little in the way of text. I haven't got a copy as that doesn't sound like the most thrilling read but as Chris has recommended it I may have to reconsider. If you don't follow his blog you should if you have in interest in beer history, and he has a range of books on offer exploring different areas of mainly British beer hstory.

Brewery History Society – Century plus plus of British Brewery 1890 - 2012 (2013)

If you've ever wondered what breweries there were in a particular village, town or county this is the book for you, it lists lots.

That's it for Chris' recommendations, but whilst I'm here I'll add a few of my own:

George Clinch - English Hops (1919)

Apart from a supposed picture of a male Fuggle plant this is an excellent book on history of English hops and even better it's freely available in PDF form.

A H Burgess - Hops (1964)

This book is well worth getting, and contains more historical information than Neve. 

Mass Observation - The Pub and the People: A Worktown Study (1943)

 This is a fascinating and detailed account of pub life in 1930s Bolton. Compared to the modern day some things are strangely similar and some things are strangely different.

Andrew Campbell - The Book of Beer (1956)

Give a wide ranging account from the 1950s, and intriguingly includes some pub crawl lists. I have been tempted to try re-doing one and see how much has changed but I've never got round to it so far.

Frank Baillie'sThe Beer Drinkers Companion, Christopher Hutt's The Death of the English Pub and Richard Boston's Beer and Skittles give the story of British beer from the 1970s and should be on every discerning beer geek's bookshelf.

Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey -Brew Britannia: The Strange Rebirth of British Beer

If you weren't lucky enough to inherit the previously three books, and even if you were, Boak and Bailey's excellent account of the fight for decent British beer from 1963 to 2013 is a must. It also has the merit of being another book which I'm mentioned in by name:

Details 50 iconic ales from Britain, and when as is often the case the beer has sadly passed into history lists the most similar beer available today.

Ray Anderson - Brewers and Distillers by Profession (2012)

A fascinating history of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and its predecessor organisations, it's also an excellent source of information on over a century of British brewing. 


  1. If this isn't a challenge to Boak and Bailey for the biggest geek crown in British Beer blogging, I don't know what is.

    And you know who John Fucking Kimmich is!

    Top Man.

    Respect Ed. Respect! :-)

    1. Cheers Tandleman, you think I'm a contender in the Champion Beer Bore of Britain competiton then?

  2. I own almost all of those books. Not sure what that says about me.

    Yo're right about numbers. The only complete sentence in it is the sopyright notice.

    1. I think it says you're another beer geek Ron!

  3. Great read for sure. Thanks for recommending.