Buy Amber Gold and Black, the British beer styles bible

Amber Gold and Black is the first ever in-depth look at all the beers that have been made in Britain, one of the world’s greatest brewing nations, from the well-known, such as bitter and mild, to the deeply obscure, such as West Country white beer, and gill ale. Amber Gold and Black, the most comprehensive guide to Britain’s many and glorious beer styles ever, is essential – and controversial – reading for anyone who enjoys a pint, as well as all those involved in brewing and pubs. Click here to buy from, here to buy from, and you can buy it from Beer Inn Print here.

Long-standing stories about beer, lovingly retold over pints by beer drinkers and brewers down the ages are comprehensively debunked in the book. The tales repeated by almost every other writer about beer but knocked on the head in Amber Gold and Black include:

• IPA – India Pale Ale – wasn’t, as most writers claim, invented specifically to survive the long journey from Britain to the East, and it wasn’t made specially for British soldiers in India. Instead it was a lucky accident …

• Porter, once London’s most popular beer, wasn’t invented by a man called Harwood in Shoreditch in 1722, and neither was it invented to match the taste of a mixed drink called Three-Threads. Instead it took decades, and a man who became Lord Mayor of London and once gave away his horse to Louis XV …

• Mild, Britain’s most popular beer until the 1960s, wasn’t originally dark, or weak, but pale and strong …

• Lager brewing in Britain didn’t begin in the 1950s, or even the 1880s, but the 1830s, in Scotland, thanks to a visit by a young Bavarian brewer …

Amber Gold and Black is published by The History Press. It is a celebration of the depths of British beer, a look at the roots of the styles we enjoy today, as well as those ales and beers we have lost, and a study into how the liquids that fill our beer glasses, amber gold and black, developed over the years.

Buy it now, and learn all there is to know about the history of porter, bitter, mild and stout, IPA, brown ale, Burton ale and old ale, barley wine and stingo, golden ale, gale ale, honey ale, white beer, heather ale and mum, and much more.

* The writer of Amber Gold and Black, Martyn Cornell is the author of Beer: The Story of the Pint, a history of brewing in Britain which won him the Beer Writer of the Year Award from the British Guild of Beer Writers, one of three beer writing prizes he had picked up from the guild. He is also a regular contributor to What’s Brewing, the Campaign for Real Ale’s newspaper, a writer on beer for publications as diverse as Country Life and Caterer & Hotelkeeper, a beer judge in competitions held by the supermarket chains Tesco and Sainsbury’s, and author of the Zythophile beer blog at Beer Connoisseur.

What readers are saying about Amber Gold and Black:

This is essential reading for anyone with an interest in beer as a drinker, a retailer or a brewer. It shows the routes each British beer evolved into the beers we know today, and details some of the top examples in each style. It is a book to keep and return to, as much for reference as a book to read in one run. It is highly recommended.
John Cryne (former chairman, Campaign for Real Ale) London Drinker June/July 2010

One of the best and most thoroughly researched accounts of the history of British beer styles. Cornell tackles all the popular styles — India pale ales, porters and stouts — along with more obscure, ancient varieties, such as heather ales and honey beer. If you already think you know it all, this is the book for you.
Jay Brooks, Bay Area News

Easily the best book ever written about British beer styles and their history

This book is absolutely brilliantly revelatory … the painstaking research that has gone into this work is phenomenal This is definitely a books that belongs on any beer-lover’s bookshelf. It is a must read.

A very well-researched and easy to read review of the history of brewing. I’m sure that this book will be of interest to anyone interested in beer and its history … highly recommended.
Les Howarth, on

Amber Gold and Black is a really good read. It’s well-written and captivating throughout … would recommend it to anyone with an interest in British beer.

I found Amber Gold and Black a fascinating read with a treasure trove of research to support the story of an eclectic assortment of British beer styles. Mr. Cornell does a wonderful job of laying out the history of bitter, mild, porter and India Pale Ale based on actual research (!) rather than repeated myth, and shines the light on styles you may have only heard about such as Burton Ale,and Stingo, as well as those that were news to me, such as Gale Ale and Mum.

Pour un historique solide des styles de bières britanniques, de leurs origines et de l’évolution de leurs caractéristiques, le bouquin le plus solide actuellement est Amber Gold and Black de Martyn Cornell.

A wonderful piece of research

Amber Gold & Black is a really good read. It’s well-written and captivating throughout. Just bought it myself and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in British beer history”.
Evan Rail

“A unique insight into the course of British brewing over the last 200 years, well-researched and well-written … I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to gain a greater understanding of the history of British beer.”
Ron Pattinson

46 thoughts on “Buy Amber Gold and Black, the British beer styles bible”

  1. Ordered a copy this morning. Do you have any info on Scottish heather beers in the book? I not i will be MASSIVELY offended if this particularly influential beer style has been missed out. Not offended enough that i won’t read the book you understand but nonetheless! Merry Xmas 🙂

    1. You’ll be delighted, I hope, to know that there’s a whole chapter about heather ale and its history and current incarnation.

      1. Oh christ i was only joking! Didn’t think there was any chance of a niche beer like Heather ale being in there. Well well, i am now intrigued and looking forward to the read even more.
        I am currently making a batch of authentic IPA with heather honey used to boost to 8%ABV for that 1840’s kick to balance the 200IBU initial estimate of bitternessssssssssssss.

        1. The story of heather ale is fascinating and wide-ranging, dragging in, as it does, Wagner’s Ring cycle, the battle of Clontarf, near Dublin, in 1014, WB Yeats and the origins of the name Britain.

          Honey IPA, eh? Don’t forget to serve it authentically ice-cold.

  2. Book arrived last week. I am enjoying it and will take it offshore with me next week. Thanks, you have put a load of work into this book and i like the fact that it’s a proper hardback book. Some can be a bit ‘pamphlety’. Like the beer ring watermark. Yes i did try and wipe it off the cover!

  3. Hi

    We are currently looking after the UK launch of South African beer Windhoek in the UK. As such a beer lover I’d love to invite you to the event tomorrow evening in London. If you could email me, I can forward you the invite.


  4. Martyn,

    I bought this book along with a nice copy of Andrew Campbell’s 1956 The Book of Beer, partially for research into an article I was writing about India Pale Ale. It was an excellent and entertaining read. AGB actually gave me the grounding to more thoroughly appreciate the older Campbell work. Thanks for a valuable contribution to brewing history.

    And no: My article does not say, “India Pale Ale was invented by George Hodgson.”

  5. Dear Martyn
    I have actually bought a copy of your book but find that I read books on my kindle reader much more readily. The print books tend not to be with me on the train. Bit of a cheeky question, but are there any plans to make the book available in a kindle ebook format?
    I realise there are publisher issues here (I am just about to publish a book about Japanese alcohol and the publisher has been cautious about an ebook immediately) but I thought I might as well ask.
    Chris Bunting

  6. The first thing that struck me about this excellent book was that there is no chapter dedicated to Scotch (Scottish?) Ale. I believe this type of beer to be in a genre of its own as is the case with Golden Ale.
    Any thoughts on this point?

      1. A fair and honest answer Martyn, however, there are a few books in the market place that are soley dedicated to Scotch ale/beer.

  7. Hi Martyn – just wondered as I tried to buy the book through the link to Amazon, but i’ve been waiting for a few months and they say there are none. Has it run out of print?

    1. Looking at the publisher’s website, it does appear to be out of print/unavailabe. If it is, the feckers haven’t bothered telling me. I will find out – thanks for letting me know.

  8. Hi Martyn, just ordered the book but am wondering if there is any mention of Kennett ale (or Reading ale) in it. I’ve commercially recreated the beer based on two old recipes along with your mention of it in regard to mild vs. old ales but any further information would be very welcome. It was fairly common in the advertisements of English breweries here in the US in the 19th c. but not seen since…til now.

  9. I enjoyed your book very much. I have a question about the “beer flood”, you write that the vat was filled with some 32 tons of porter while Times, BBC and others gives a number I interpret as a little over 500 000 liters of porter. Do I mess up the conversions or was it somewhere in the region of 500 metric tons of Porter?

  10. This is a very good book…thankyou…I really liked it (I can’t really say much more than that…well I could but it would probably just be dribble)

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'Zee-tho-fyle', by Martyn Cornell, an award-winning blog about beer now and then, founded in 2007