Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Friday, September 2, 2016

#TheSession 115 - The Write Rail


Goodness me, where did August go? Seems like only yesterday I was hosting the 114th Session. For number 115 Joan of Birraire asks us to:
talk about that first book that caught their attention, which brought them to get interested in beer; or maybe about books that helped developing their local beer scene.
I want to start by stating the obvious, I love books. Whether we talking about beer book, historical novels, works on literary theory, scientific theory, or theology I have a constantly growing library that no Kindle or e-reader could ever replace. I have a near constant stack of about 7 books on the dresser on my side of the bed as I finish the top one, a new gets added to the bottom, or the middle. I read somewhat voraciously, any opportunity to read is seized upon.


Joan's theme though is specifically books about beer, and naturally I have a fair few, most that I use as reference books for my homebrew. Ray Daniel's 'Designing Great Beers' is an essential source for homebrewers in my world. Sure the history side of things can be questionable at times, but the analyses of various styles is very helpful when I am in the process of creating a recipe to try out. Just as valuable is Ron Pattinson's 'The Homebrewer's Guide to Vintage Beers', and while I have only brewed a straight up version of 4 or 5 of the beers there, I use the book again as a reference, looking for patterns in behaviour that I can interpret in my own brewing. The third in my triumvirate of regular reference reads for brewing might come as more of a surprise given how rarely I brew Belgian style beers, but Stan Hieronymous' 'Brew Like A Monk' is great reading.

When it comes though to beer books that I enjoy reading purely for their own sake, there is one writer that for me stands head and shoulders above us all (and admittedly I am stretching the definition of 'book' just a bit here), Evan Rail.

It may be that I am slightly biased given that Evan and I shared many a pint when I lived in the Czech Republic, but whether directly writing about beer or not I thoroughly enjoy reading his work. Evan's Kindle Singles are the kind of writing to which I can really only aspire, often witty, deeply profound, and drenched with experience. The singles 'Why Beer Matters', 'In Praise of Hangovers', and 'Why We Fly' are all wonderful, and the half hour or so it takes to read each one is to lose yourself for a bit as Evan draws you into his world.

Given that it is Friday, go download those three of Evan's titles on Amazon, sit with a pint or two of your favourite beer (it really doesn't matter what) and discover, or discover again, a fantastic writer.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Of Books and Beer


I took this picture in 2008, in a pub in Oxford. The pub is called Far From the Madding Crowd, and it most certainly is, tucked away down a side street in the historic centre of, in my ever so unhumble opinion, the nicest town in England. I would happily live in Oxford, and not just because of this pub, or because my elder brother lives nearby.

Coming back to the picture, it sums up my twin passions. Beer and books, or at least beer and reading. I love reading, always have, always will. If you are ever in the situation where you are not sure what to give me for my birthday, a gift certificate to a book shop is always welcome (though please don't ever bother with something like a Kindle or Nook - I like to read real books, one could call them craft books). I am never happier than sat in a pub with a pint of something good and a book to read. The book in the picture is by one of my favourite authors, Iain Banks, and his writing lends itself to spending an afternoon tucked away in a tucked away pub, supping much maligned brown bitters and generally losing oneself. This is naturally much easier if your significant other is at a conference and you really have several hours to simply stop and not care about anything else.

I have found that being sat in a pub, reading a book and relishing every mouthful of your pint is the perfect way to unwind. One of the pleasures of the lazy afternoon and, in the right pub, evening drinking and reading, is lifting your eyes from the page and returning the physical world around you, and just watching people interact. The lunchtime crowd from a local office block, the long married couple so comfortable in each others company that the spoken word seems irreverent, the suited up gent throwing a whisky down before heading back into the fray. Conversations spark into life because of the book you are reading, discussions of literary theory, education, philosophy, politics and all the things that everyone has an opinion on, whether or not they realise it. Without outstaying their welcome, people move on and the book is picked up again.

The book and the pint are my way of stepping outside for a while, and I may be some time, but unlike Arctic explorers I come back. Back to a world of incessant buzz and noise, of ever shifting popularity and constant campaigning. To a world of hype driven must haves, and when people announce that they have, the cries of "I want" scream like gulls following a fishing boat. I have always been like this. Even as a kid at school, I spent my lunchtimes and breaks in the library, reading, learning, discovering things that were new to me. As a student in Birmingham, if they had allowed pints in the Central Library, I fear I would never have left the building.

That then would be my dream pub, one with a decent selection of books on one wall, a decent selection of beers at the bar, and all the time in the world to just step outside for a while.

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

I have to admit that there really are not that many things that I miss as a result of this pandemic. I am sure that comes as something of a ...

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