Summer reading

I was delighted to see that Amber Gold and Black, my just-published history of beer styles, has cracked the summer holiday reading market and will be seen on all the best beaches alongside Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest and whatever codswallop Dan Brown is currently minting millions from, if this message from Joe Inglis reflects a general desire to read about the truth behind IPA and porter while crisping under a layer of factor 30:

Your book rocks. Read it once, hugely entertaining and informative, so much so that it’s on my list of books to go on holiday with next week.

You can find out if it really does rock by buying Amber Gold and Black yourself for just £9.99 plus p&p via this link if you’re in the UK or Europe, or for $16.47 from here if you’re in the Americas. Should you not like Amazon, you can also order it from my mate Paul Travis at Beer Inn Print here.

And if Joe Inglis doesn’t convince you to buy AGB, the first and best complete coverage of the history of every beer style ever made in Britain, here are a few critical comments from around the globe, the first by Jay Brooks, the highly respected Californian beer writer and blogger, writing in the Bay Area News a few days ago:

If you’re already a certified beer geek, check out Amber, Gold & Black: The History of Britain’s Great Beers (History Press, 240 pp) by British beer historian Martyn Cornell. One of the best and most thoroughly researched accounts of the history of British beer styles, Amber, Gold & Black finally has reached these shores, shattering many cherished myths in the process. 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.

Next from John Cryne, former chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale, writing in the latest edition of London Drinker magazine:

… a well researched and informative account of Britain’s contribution to the world of brewing. From bitter through porter to wood-aged beers and lager, it covers every style you might have heard of and many you won’t. What is especially fascinating is not only how styles have changed with time but also how the meaning of the words we use to describe styles has changed. 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.

Here’s a five-star review from a site called

Given that I found Mr. Cornell’s information on style history to be the runaway strong point of Beer: The Story of the Pint [my previous book – MC], I had high expectations for this book.  I’m happy to report that I found Amber, Gold & 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.  There is a lot of information useful to the homebrewer here, as brewing information such as original gravities and hop varieties are provided for many of the historic beers discussed, and there is an excellent section on British herbs that used to be used for flavoring and bittering.

There was a mention on a site called

Martyn Cornell’s Amber, Gold and Black – easily the best book ever written about British beer styles and their history.

Zak Avery, award-winning blogger, alias the Beerboy, said:

Amber, Gold and Black is the most ruthlessly researched book on beer styles in existence

One French-speaking website declared:

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 & Black de Martyn Cornell

while a Spanish speaker agreed:

Estoy leyendo Amber, Gold & Black – A History of British Beer Styles de Martyn Cornell. Es muy interesante porque se basa en archivos históricos (de cervecerías, de las cuidades y de diarios). Te lo recomiendo mucho. Es excelente.

So there you are, then. If it’s un historique solide des styles de bières britanniques you’re after to take on holiday with you for your summer reading, buy Amber Gold and Black. Es excelente.

0 thoughts on “Summer reading

  1. Ha! It was me who posted that review in that blog. I had forgotten about it….

    Disclaimer: I did not get any free copy from the author, I bought the book with my hard earned bytes.

  2. that French website is actually homebrewer’s forum, and the quote was left by yours truly, on the heels of an explanation that NO, Scotch ales do no, traditionally contain peat-smoked malt.

    Yet no doubt, it shows the solid appreciation I have for the book and the work you’re doing in separating truth from myth.

    Cheers !


  3. I have just received it from and I’m looking forward to add it to my own summer reading list!
    I have used the blog for reference many times, and I’m happy to now have all the stories collected in paper form.


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