If you’ve never read any of Pete Brown’s books, you’re missing out on some great beer-related laughs. He’s been described as the “beer drinker’s Bill Bryson”, and I couldn’t think of a more perfect description. His books are honest, hilarious and full of the kind of beer trivia that raises you up a few rungs of the beer geek ladder when you share it over a pint. Then there’s the anecdotes. The story of his mum rescuing him just a few hours into the epic IPA journey from Burton-on-Trent to India in Hops and Glory still makes me chuckle. And I also learnt a thing or two about the myths and origins of the India Pale Ale. Mostly though I laughed at Pete’s many misfortunes. Because I’m British and that’s what we do.
We’re incredibly lucky to have Pete in South Africa this July, kicking off the proceedings at both the Jo’burg and Cape Town legs of Beer Boot Camp. I got in touch to ask him a few quick questions ahead of his trip.
We know that you sailed past Cape Town while researching Hops and Glory, but have you had chance to visit South Africa before? If so, did you manage to sample many beers?
I was in South Africa in 2005 for a friend’s wedding and I loved it. I have to say the wines were far better than the beer that time, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how things have moved on.
What are you most looking forward to about your trip to South Africa?
Penguins. They’re awesome.
You probably have the perfect job – travelling the world and drinking beer. What’s at the top of your beery travels wish list?
Portland, Oregon is usually top of my list, and I’m back there in September, but I also really need to visit Brazil as they’re doing some world-beating stuff at the moment and I’m totally unfamiliar with the scene there.
And at the bottom of the list?
I guess the place I would least like to be in the beer world is the boardroom at Anheuser-Busch Inbev.
Well at least you’d have free Bud Lite Lime at hand I suppose…Your talk at Boot Camp is entitled “What are you drinking?” – can you give us a little insight into what we can expect from the talk?
The talk is inspired by the book I’m currently working on of the same title, which is subtitled ‘the nature of beer.’ I’ve spent the last year travelling around hop gardens, barley farms, maltings and yeast laboratories learning about what we refer to as the ‘raw ingredients’ of beer, and realising that that’s not quite the right term for them. There’s an enormous amount of work and love that goes into each one before it even reaches the brewery, so I’m telling the hidden stories behind beer.
I for one, can’t wait to hear Pete’s talk. If he’s half as funny in person as he is on paper, we’re in for a few chuckles. If you haven’t got your tickets to Boot Camp yet, there is still time. The proceedings kick off in Jo’burg on July 2nd and a week later it’s Cape Town‘s turn. Tickets are R850 – a small price to pay for a host of world-class speakers, lots of beer and a bunch of fellow beer lovers to share the experience with. Stay tuned this week for a brief interview with beer writer extraordinare and Boot Camp keynote speaker Randy Mosher.