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Brew Britannia: the strange rebirth of British beer

Brew Britannia: the strange rebirth of British beer

Boak, Jessica, author; Bailey, Ray, author

Before the First World War Britain was home to over 6000 breweries, but by 1960 their number had dwindled to 358 and, with the 'big six' increasingly dominant, the prospects for British beer looked weak, yellow and fizzy. In 2012, however, UK breweries topped 1000 for the first time since the Great Depression, and they are now producing and exporting more varied and inventive ale than ever before. 'Brew Britannia' tells the story of this remarkable reversal

Paperback, Book. English.
Published London: Aurum Press, [2014]

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Statement of responsibility: Jessica Boak & Ray Bailey
ISBN: 1781311862, 9781781311868
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: 298 pages : illustrations (black and white) ; 22 cm
Subject: Beer Great Britain.; Brewing industry Great Britain.; Industry.

Author note

JESSICA BOAK and RAY BAILEY have been blogging about beer at since 2007, inspired by an eye-opening trip to Nuremberg. They have written articles for the Campaign for Real Ale and the Brewery History Society, among others. They live in Penzance, Cornwall.


'Brew Britannia is informed, funny, well researched and eminently readable'


'a very welcome addition to the national beer library... Brew Britannia is a well-researched, easily-readable pleasure deserving of the attention of a wider readership than keen beer drinkers.'


Brewery History||

'The narrative bounces along and is hard to put down -- a thoroughly interesting read.'


The Brewer and Distiller International||

'We need this account, in this form, if we are to fully understand where beer is today, how it got here, and from there, to start to speculate about where it might go next... this is a book that I wish I had written, but was beaten to by people who have in many ways done a far better job than I would have'


'Brew Britannia is a fascinating odyssey through the last half-century of British beer and I would recommend this without a moment’s thought'

Called to the Bar||

‘An excellent guide to the journey British beer has taken in the past half-century, well worth reading whether you lived through it or not, simply to understand where we are now’


'A fascinating tale of peculiarly British pluck and pioneering spirit, all washed down with lots of great beer'||

'This is an exhilarating read, well researched, in the main objective, and encompassing the views of many important players in the great beer revival of the past 40 years'

Protz on Beer||

'For anyone interested in beer's modern renaissance, it’s a quirky, comprehensive read, filled both with obscure information and more essential facts’

Saveur magazine||

'A meticulously researched, detailed account of the ‘rebirth’ of British beer, and how a continual parade of enthusiasts, professional and amateur, helped get British brewing back on its feet... tremendous'

The BeerCast||

'One of the most important books on beer to be released in the last ten years. If you're even remotely into beer I would advise picking up a copy immediately and getting stuck in straight away'

Total Ales||

'Where the book excels, is in the pulling together of a non-linear story of change into a narrative of characters, key people and events. Those that are familiar with the story, and those that are not, and those that have even the most passing interest in British beer and brewing will equally find it fascinating and educational'

Tandleman's Beer Blog||

'It’s not just a great book, it’s an important one for the time we live in. My advice is: don’t wait a few years before reading it. The lessons that can be learned from Brew Britannia are best appreciated right now'

The Beer Diary||

'Well written - but I'd expect no less from them - and with loads of good stories about the individuals who drove the quest for better beer. It kept me entertained even while my arse was aching from hours of sitting'||

'I haven’t devoured a book about beer so quickly and enjoyably since five years ago, when I read Pete Brown’s own social history of beer ... sneaking off to read a couple of chapters in every lunch break... The authors succeed in telling a story of fascinating and human characters'

The Beer Prole||



'Buy this book. It is one of the strongest and most entertaining bits of writing about good beer that has come out in recent years'

A Good Beer Blog||

'It is an excellent and enjoyable book which really is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the development of the specialist beer market in Britain over the past forty years'

The Pub Curmudgeon||

'[Boak and Bailey] – like all good historians – are keen to go back to original sources. They speak to the people who were there at the time, the movers and the shakers in this remarkable renaissance of British beer'||

'Brew Britannia is an excellent book; investigative, frank, even-handed and, above all, vital to both the beer geek and the neophyte alike'

The Good Stuff||

'Brew Britannia has, in exploring the past, got me thinking about the future – but aside from all of that, it's a bloody enjoyable and interesting read, and one which I will dip back into for reference time and time again'

Molyneux's Beer Blog||

'An excellent read!'


'The vast amount of research that went into it is very apparent, with a wide array of documentary evidence cited, as well as first-person interviews with almost all the main characters, providing never-before-seen information and viewpoints... For a history book set mostly in my own lifetime on a subject I'm very interested in, I can point out almost no omissions'