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Three Sheets to the Wind

Pete Brown

Flushed with the success of his first book, Man Walks into a Pub, former lager advertising executive Pete Brown built on his beer writing credentials with a follow-up work entitled Three Sheets to the Wind.

Three Sheets to the WindHaving explored the history and social context of beer from a British perspective in his initial publication, Brown now ventures into international territory, a brave move for a ‘crap traveller’, as he describes himself. It’s a big undertaking.

The aim is to visit bars and breweries in all corners of the world, to see how important beer is to everyday life and to explore the idiosyncrasies of the pub environment in each destination.

The jacket blurb describes it as a ‘life changing adventure to the heart of beer’. For a man whose previous affections lay with Stella Artois, it’s certainly that.

Pete’s journey begins in Spain, a country that takes him by surprise with its beer culture and relaxed approach to drinking. It leads him to Ireland, where he singularly fails to discover the romantic idyll of the rustic Irish bar where everyone is made welcome, to Australia, where beer and gambling seem to go hand in hand, and to Germany, where he clearly enjoys the Oktoberfest far too much for his own good.

The contrasts between the industrial functionality of old-style American brewing (in Milwaukee) and the loving, wholesome new craft brewing community (in Portland, Oregon) blow his mind, while Japan, always a mystery to the Western mind, proves that, when it comes to beer, it is as enigmatic as ever.

The Czech Republic, Denmark, China and Belgium also feature on the itinerary, which ends up, as you would expect, in Barnsley (actually Brown’s place of birth). There are some notable omissions from Brown’s travels – Russia, South America, South Africa among them – but there’s only so much a man’s health and bank balance can take.

The tone throughout is enthusiastic and very funny, as Brown morphs from fledgling beer scribe to a travel writer of considerable promise. The humour is better judged than in Man Walks into a Pub, and Brown shows a natural flair for capturing a scene and making the reader part of it.

Crucially, by the time you get to the end of the book, you just want to get up, pack your bag and follow in his footsteps – which, I suppose, confirms better than all the words I’ve just typed that the author has done an excellent job.

First published 2006

468-page paperback (Pan)


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