Reference Books







Beer: The Story of the Pint’  by Martyn Cornell published 2003 by Headline Books
The author won the British Guild of Beer Writers Award in 2000 and was chosen as Beer Writer of the Year 2003 -  well deserved recognition for what has to be the best researched and most authoritative book on the subject.  And it's a fascinating and enjoyable read too.  The author has gone back to the sources and in so doing explodes a lot of oft-repeated myths and uncovers lots of information I've never found elsewhere.  Thoroughly recommended. 
 [English Text]

'The English Housewife’  by Gervase Markham first published 1615, published 1998 by McGill Queen's University Press, editor Michael R Best
Gervase Markham (1568?-1637) was a real Renaissance man, a soldier/poet/farmer who published books on military and agricultural matters, but is perhaps best known for this work, which includes a chapter giving instructions on the preparation of barley and the brewing of beer - things which every good housewife should know!  It sheds light on early brewing methods but is also a wonderful insight into daily life in Tudor times.  [English Text]

Cellarmanship’  by Patrick O'Neill 4th edition 2005 published by CAMRA 
A clear and thorough explanation of the vital role of the cellarman in making sure you get a decent pint.  It details the range of things a good cellarman should know, and the fastidious good practice which should be followed.  Since so many pubs are not prepared to train staff properly,  it's hardly surprising that you so often meet poorly served, poor quality beer.  I initially didn't like one famous brew, which I am now very fond of, purely because I had only encountered it in a pub where - I now understand - it was badly kept.  Even if you're not looking to work in a pub, you need this book to show you what goes on behind the scenes, and help you understand what to expect from a good pub.  Highly recommended! 
[English Text]

The Good Beer Guide’  published annually by CAMRA 
Pubs are included on the basis of local CAMRA branch recommendations so this can produce the odd 'dud' but overall it is a 'must-have' when touring the UK - we have discovered some really interesting pubs from this book.
 [English Text]

Dales Ales - Craven District’  (2nd edition 2003) published annually by CAMRA Keighley & Craven Branch
A tiny book which nevertheless packs in all you need to find good real ale pubs in the Yorkshire Dales.  If you're heading for the Settle-Ingleton area this book is a must!
 [English Text]

The Good Bottled Beer Guide’  published annually by CAMRA 
BEWARE!  The title of this book should be the Good Bottle-Conditioned Beer Guide.  If you buy this thinking that you're going to get some help finding out about all those interesting UK beers now appearing on supermarket shelves you'll be disappointed, as any beers which have seen a filter or, Heaven forbid! been pasteurised, are ex-communicated and banished to the Outer Darkness.  As a result you'll be lucky if you find references to half of what you can buy locally.  Instead the book eulogises things along the lines of  'Gaffer Jarge's Old Sheepdip' of which only 50 bottles are produced every other year, and is only obtainable from the farm brewery at the end of a 4-mile rutted track which you need an OS grid reference to find!  Compare this with Tim Webb's approach to Belgian beers - every beer you're likely to meet in Belgium is in his book.  I support CAMRA in promoting good beer, but the prescriptive definition used here is less than helpful - filtered or pasteurised beers are not all bad.  What they should do is list all beers, and then say what is wrong with any they don't approve of.  Until they change their policy this book at £9.99 is far too expensive for the meagre information it offers - especially when you see how much more you get in Tim Webb's book (below) for very little extra cost. 
 [English Text]

A Century of British Brewers - Plus 1890-2004’  by Barber, Smith & Brown published by the Brewery History Society ( 2005 edition)  
Shame on me!  I hadn't previously encountered this valuable reference and was recently pointed towards it (thanks Stephen!)  Quite simply, it covers the whole of the British Isles (including Ireland) and by means of a same layout of counties and towns lists the brewers therein. The text is interspersed with a number of black & white brewery illustrations from the Victorian era. The publishers say "The essential reference book for anyone interested in British brewery history.
" - and that's absolutely right!   [English Text]
But  there's another bonus.  If you browse through the website from which you can buy it, you'll find a superb collection of books, CDs, DVDs on beer, breweries, brewing, pub-guides and all the important things in life.    Have a look at

'Inns and Taverns of Old Arundel' by Rupert Brooks published by Phillimore & Co Ltd
Arundel had some forty named ale and beerhouses, of which only seven have survived to sell beer.   They were dominated by families, from whom the widows survived to a ripe old age to manage the selling of the products of brewing.   The book is a detailed exposition of where these old houses can still be found in the town, what they were called in their heyday, who the publicans were at the time, how the families helped each other and carried on through the generations.
The author spent time in the archives department of Arundel Castle, thanks to the kind permission of His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, in the West Sussex Records Office and interviewing residents of long-standing who remembered these old dinosaurs now long-gone.   Together with photographs from late Victorian times the book features current photographs of the present site of an old beerhouse and of the rebuild that replaced the original.
Research into the families who dominated was the result of reading through licence records, going back to the early nineteenth century, and through the census returns from 1851 registering the occupations of incumbents.   More was achieved by interviewing descendants of the most significant families, capturing old family photographs and details from research into their family trees.   Anecdotal reminiscence of the past and recollections of how the interiors of these old premises then looked help to create the atmospheres of these faded drinking places in old Arundel and are encapsulated in the book.  [English Text]  Buy it from the author  for £14.95 - contact rupertbrooksATbtconnectDOTcom - substitute the symbols for the words in caps in the email address - device to defeat Spambots!


Good Beer Guide to Belgium’ by Tim Webb - 5th edition 2005  Previous editions, which included Holland, were a must-have, but this new edition is even better as it concentrates on Belgium only. This means it can pack more in - this is what the write-up promises: 
"It gives details of all 120 breweries, over 800 beers and more than 500 specialist beer cafés.  And just in case you think that sells you short, it tells you all the ways to get to Belgium, how to get around and gives tips on where to stay and what to look out for on the menu. This edition for the first time lists all the regular beer festivals, all the beer-related tourist attractions, which breweries allow you to visit and where you can buy beer to take home. The section on Belgian beer in the UK is also expanded to include nearly fifty top outlets. Written with attitude, researched with care. A serious annoyance to those companies that thought they could take the world of beer for their own. Like the craft breweries whose products it extols, this is a book that has survived against all the odds, to make life just a little bit more fun. Don’t bother to compare. You will not find another guide like it"
I agree - it's essential When going round some of the large Belgian beer warehouses I often see fellow Brits with their noses buried in this book, seeking guidance on the goodies displayed around them.  You can order it from Tim Webb on and you may even get a copy signed by the great man himself!   [English Text]

‘Lambicland’ by Tim Webb published by Cogan & Mater Ltd 
A very evocative guide to the small breweries and simple cafés of Payottenland, the area just west of Brussels where traditional gueuze is produced.  Reading this book will get you planning a trip to this fascinating area.   [English Text]

‘Around Bruges in 80 Beers’ by Chris Pollard ('Podge') & Siobhan McGinn published by Cogan & Mater Ltd 
Be warned!  I don't think it's possible for any beer-loving human to read this book without feeling an unbearable urge to rush off to Bruges and visit the delightful bars so lovingly described and brilliantly pictured in this pocket masterpiece.  If your time and/or budget doesn't allow you to drop everything and rush over there, you'll at least need to console yourself with one of the beers which the book concisely describes and attractively illustrates.   Drop some hints to the family, but if this book doesn't appear in your Christmas stocking, be sure to treat yourself to it.  Available via CAMRA  or from  [English Text]

‘Tromp’s Beer Traveller in West Flanders’ by Simon van Tromp published by Beer Traveller tours and publications 
Slim booklet essential to discover all the best bars and breweries in the area.  The English language version is on sale in many bars and tourist offices in West Flanders.  However if you want it before you go, Simon says he'll sort out a special price with postage for you - contact him via e-mail mailATbeertravellerDOTcom  - substitute the symbols for the words in caps in the email address - device to defeat Spambots!  [English Text]

‘Brew Classic European Beers at Home’ by Graham Wheeler and Roger Protz published by CAMRA 
Even if you’re not into home brewing this gives good insights into how they’re made!  [English Text]

‘Michael Jackson’s Grote Belgische Bieren’ published by Media Marketing Communications, Antwerp
Dutch edition which I picked up over there at a bargain price – great incentive to learn the language!  [Dutch Text]
Or look for an English edition
‘Great Beers of Belgium’ – I could only find it on Michael Jackson’s website but it’s also worth a look to see what other books he’s published recently.

‘Petit Futé Guide to Belgian Beers’ published by Belgian Beer Paradise and available in tourist offices in Brussels or through the website – choose the EN – English – version of the website and you’ll see a link to the Guide.  A very thorough listing of breweries with tasting notes on representative beers, it tends to be less critical than other reviewers – it is produced by the organisation which promotes Belgian beer after all!   [English Text - other languages available]

'België door het Bier' by Annie Perrier-Robert & Charles Fontaine published by Scortgen (Luxembourg) 1996.  It must be hard to come by - we got the last copy in stock at Bier Tempel, Brussels.  As the title says, it tells the story of Belgium through its beers, and contains historical illustrations, old beer adverts and labels I've never seen elsewhere (with information on the artists), lists major breweries (with a map), describes the various beer styles, gives statistics on beer sales, details of Belgian brewers abroad and foreign brewers in Belgium, explains how to taste - in short a very comprehensive, well-researched and well-illustrated book.  [Dutch Text]

'100 Uitgelezen Belgische Bieren' by Bob Magerman published by Lannoo 2002.  Even if your Dutch isn't up to coping with much of the text, the titles and pictures act as a tick-list of the top Belgian beers (and although I might quibble about the odd one, I largely agree with the author's choices!) [Dutch Text]

'Abdijbier' by Roger Protz published by Deltas 2002.  Also published as 'Heavenly Beer' by Carroll & Brown, London 2002.  A good introduction to the beers produced by monks (and their imitators) in Belgium and other countries of the world (with nice pictures).  However, the treatment is relatively superficial and once you get more seriously into the subject you would want books that give much more detail on each country.  [Abdijbier Dutch Text, Heavenly Beer English Text]]


The Good Beer Guide to Germany’  published by CAMRA 
With impeccable timing, CAMRA chose 17 May 2006 (just before one of our German beer tasting courses!) to launch their Good Beer Guide to Germany, and kindly arranged for me to get an advance copy.  Having perused it from cover to cover I can sum up in one short sentence:
If you have even the slightest interest in the beers of Germany YOU MUST GET THIS BOOK! 
For those who'd like a little more information here's the full review:

The author, Steve Thomas, has spent four years in assembling the data for the book, which is good going, considering that it includes details of 1257 breweries,  together with over 7750 beers which they produce.  Given the size of the project, it is understandable that it can't be compared directly with the GBG's for Britain or Belgium. It can't include tasting notes on each of those beers or details of every bar in Germany - if it did, you'd be looking at a publication similar in size to the Encyclopaedia Britannica!  But what it does have is well-written sections full of tips on getting there, carnivals, pub etiquette (Don't sit at the Stammtisch!!!), beer gardens, Oktoberfest, Reinheitsgebot, suggested 'top 5' lists of breweries, beers, brewpubs etc, and an excellent 'phrase-book' appendix, aimed specifically at the needs of the visiting beer - and food - fan. (If you can't tell your Radler from your Rosenkohl you definitely need this book!) 

The body of the book comprises the list of breweries, arranged by Bundesland (state) and town, and there are also location maps for the breweries, details of the 7 brewing corporations and their holdings (which now produce 70% of all beer in Germany between them), and useful indexes of places and beers and breweries.  I said it couldn't include all the bars in Germany - but it does have a very good pubs section which highlights interesting pubs in 12 major cities.  Perhaps my favourite chapter is the one which gives comprehensive notes on all the main beer styles, including a couple of obscure ones I hadn't heard of before.  Oh yes, the book is also beautifully printed and extensively illustrated in colour.  It costs £14.99 to CAMRA members and £16.99 to non-members - don't forget that you can sign up to CAMRA through their website and immediately recoup part of your subscription by enjoying the members' discounts.  So, what are you waiting for?  Get on down to the CAMRA shop at or try the following link which should take you straight to the GBG Germany page

In case you think that I'm raving even more than usual, it's because I really think that the GBG Germany is a publication with far more importance than a handy guide for beer tourists.  If you'd spent as much time as we have searching on-line and in bookshops in Germany in order to turn up just a handful of books on German beer you would realise that this is something which the Germans have signally failed to do for themselves.  They don't have an equivalent to CAMRA, and the image of beer has declined over recent years - German friends tell us that they wouldn't dream of offering beer when friends call, it has to be wine.  Most Germans have little knowledge of the superb variety of beers found in different parts of Germany and have sat back while the big corporations swallowed up the smaller breweries and their accountants decided that they should mass-produce tasteless, alcoholic fizz (but still very pure!).  There are still good breweries left in Germany, producing interesting beers.  If they are to survive and bring German beer back to what it was 40 years ago we need to seek out and support these small breweries, and help them fend off take-overs.  The GBG Germany is a valuable first step in this process - so please support the Guide, and use it to learn how to support the better German brewers.
 [English Text]

'PROST! The Story of German Beer' by Horst D Dornbusch published by Siris Books of Boulder, Colorado 1997.  Books on German beer are very thin on the ground - we spent a long time searching large bookshops in Germany, to no avail.  So we would be grateful for this book, whatever it was like!  Fortunately it's a very pleasant and informative read, giving plenty of background about history, beer styles and major breweries.  It's well illustrated, although in black & white only, and we got it at a reasonable price from the USA by using one of Amazon's Marketplace suppliers. [

'1000 Biere aus aller Welt’ published by Naumann & Göbel   Although the title suggests this should be in the World section I am including it here because 240 of its 350 pages cover 800 German beers.  I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this book by good friends from Germany and was very pleased to have it - not only is it beautifully produced and profusely illustrated, with pictures of labels or mugs from every major brewery, but is one of the few sources of such information available.  The book starts with a nicely illustrated history of brewing and description of beer types, then the main body is organised by town, with pictures of each.  The author, Georg Lechner, is very well qualified.  The descendant of a Bamberg brewing family, he runs Pott's brewery and associated museum in Oelde.  He lives in the museum and his bed is in a huge wooden beer cask - is that dedication enough for you?  He has an entertaining website at which shows the brewery, which you can visit, together with the museum and restaurant - you can even download the company song . . .[German Text]

'Deutsche Biere’ published by Naumann & Göbel   During a recent visit to Cologne (June 06) we were lucky enough to find a copy of this book on a bookstall at an open air antiques fair on the bank of the Rhine.  By the same publishers as the previous volume, and following the same high production standards, it is a large format tome which  weighs in at 336 pages.  The main content is a delightful canter through the regions of Germany, describing and illustrating their beers, with lots of touristy pictures of the local scenery too.  There are also sections on brewing history, beer styles and the matching of beer to food, with a good index of beers and locations.  It is not a direct competitor to the CAMRA publication, being more of a coffee-table book, but there is enough good information to justify its inclusion in your bookcase - and in any case, the pictures are great!  [German Text]

'Bamberg and Franconia - Germany's Brewing Heartland' by John Conen published by Budget Book Manufacturing, Gateshead 2003 (also available through CAMRA )  If you're taking a trip to Bavaria, hoping to track down the smaller breweries who have not sold out to the bland alcoholic fizz water trend, you must have this book!  [English Text]

Once in Bavaria we hoped to find some books on German beer but only found the following:

'Brauns Brauerei Atlas’ (volumes 1 and 2) by Boris Braun published by Verlag Hans Carl, Nuremberg 2003 and 2004
An atlas of breweries in Franconia (around Bamberg and Nuremberg), 135 in the first volume, 158 in the second.  The location of each brewery on the map is complemented by a page with a picture, address, products and production statistics and details of where you can try the beers.  A valuable companion to the brewing heartland of Germany.  I hope that the failed link to their website is only temporary, as this is the kind of publication the small German breweries need to support their efforts and widen their appeal. 
[German Text]

'Bamberg - die wahre Haupstadt des Bieres by Christian Fiedler, Bamberg 2005  A history of all the major breweries of the city, nicely illustrated with old photographs.  The accompanying website , through which you can order the book, has links to all the major breweries as well as tourist information about the city.  [German Text]


Beers of the World magazine published by Paragraph Publishing of Norwich 
Treat yourself to a subscription to this glossy magazine featuring articles by top writers on a huge range of topics, with tasting notes and beautiful photographs of beer guaranteed to bring on a thirst!  See their website for details of how to subscribe. [English Text]

Beer’ by Michael Jackson published by Dorling Kindersley 
Now seems to be titled
‘Ultimate Beer’.
 The photographs in this book should convince you that a good beer in the right glass is a work of art!  It also approaches beer tasting in a similar way to wine tasting, suggesting which beers best accompany particular foods or occasions.
[English Text]

‘Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion’ published by Mitchell Beazely 
An encyclopaedia of beer, covering the whole world.
  [English Text]

'The big book of BEER - Everything you Need to Know about the World's Greatest Drink’ by Adrian Tierney-Jones (1st edition 2005) published by CAMRA  
The eccentric capitalisation in the title gives you forewarning of the exuberant, sometimes over-the-top style of this book, but it packs in a huge amount of information.  It covers history, ingredients, processes, styles, drinking, drinking with food, cooking with, glasses, labels, education - you get the picture.  In fact you get a lot of pictures - it's beautifully illustrated and nicely produced.  It's been printed (clearly with love) in Belgium, and makes a very attractive present for yourself - or you could give one to somebody else if you really like them. [English Text]

'Geillustreerde Bier Encyclopedie by Berry Verhoef published by Rebo
Apart from a brief introduction to each country this book is a catalogue of the major breweries, and their main products (with illustrations), of every beer brewing country in the world. A good check-list for your studies!  [Dutch Text]

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