The Perfect Pint by Andy Hamilton
Bantam Press, Penguin (October 2018)
Reviewed by Terry Lock

Andy Hamilton has tried hundreds, if not thousands, of pints from the avalanche of new flavours now available and has convinced commercial, craft and home brewers across Britain to share some of their top-secret best recipes. 

The Perfect Pint is the brainchild of Andy Hamilton, author of Booze For Free and the multi award-winning Brewing Britain – not to be confused with a similarly named comedian. Occasionally surfacing on television and radio, he is also best known for his wild food knowledge. So why not swap ‘a pint of the usual’ for something more unusual? This book is a natural development from Andy’s earlier book, Brewing Britain, published in 2013. It claims to help the reader to:

  • Learn how to taste – and talk – beer like the professionals.
  • Try some of the finest ales made in Britain. (Well, those available at the time they were researched.)
  • Find out the secrets of a perfect beers, including some recipes.

Andy’s book offers and an in-depth tour of beer and brewing, and also features a guide teaching the uninitiated how to educate their palate. The list of beer festivals is useful, if a tad out of date (considerably in some cases). There is also a list of specialist bottle and ale shops, home-brew suppliers etc., but all of this is heavily dependent upon when the information was gathered – and may risk becoming out of date due to changing markets. The article on understanding beer terminology presents a useful introduction to the mystifying world of beer tastes, ingredients, faults and flavours.

This is not a book for the casual reader or someone who is looking for a suggested watering hole and what to sup there – there are many other books that cover these subjects in far better detail. This book is a good reference guide for those who want to know more about the technicalities of beer, brewing, and of course drinking. But it is a very detailed and at times, laborious text book on the world of beer.

Overall, The Perfect Pint is not particularly recommended for those who want something light to read, but provides a very useful reference guide for someone who is thinking of dipping their toes into the commercial world of beer and brewing. This rather formal book could be found on a pub shelf or in a brewery and browsed whilst sipping a beer. It gives you an insight into what makes the pint you are drinking so enjoyable, or in a worse scenario, why your pint falls short of palatable.

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