A Life on the Hop: Memories from a Career in Beer
Who hasn’t sat with a perfect pint in a glorious pub and mused over how wonderful it would be to make a living drinking beer? Roger Protz, who is one of the United Kingdom’s—and the world’s—leading beer writers, has done just that for 30 years. And, in A Life on the Hop, he gives all of us who have dreamt the dream more than a glimpse into the realities of living the dream.
Protz’s beery path began as a young boy, sipping a ginger beer outside a pub in London and trying to sneak peeks inside, where his dad and uncle traditionally tipped a few. The laughter and convivial conversation behind the door intrigued him, and he knew he wanted to be a part of that seemingly mysterious world. He got his chance, and then some, when he began work as a journalist on London’s famed Fleet Street, where, apparently, the top job requirement for a journalist was an ability to think, drink and write at the same time. That on-the-job training set Protz up perfectly to switch to a full-time beer-writing career. He traded his newspaper job for a stint at the Campaign for Real Ale as it first began its battle to save traditional beer from big brewers. He hasn’t turned back since.
In A Life on the Hop, we get to tag along as Protz slips behind the Iron Curtain to Czechoslovakia to learn the real story behind the Budweiser battle—and gets run off a Prague brewery’s property by a stern guard with a machine gun and a vicious-looking dog. He takes us to the beer Mecca of Belgium, where he stays in a monastery with Trappist monks, on to St. Petersburg to learn about Baltic stouts and porters—then-endangered beer styles of the region—and also to the United States, where he follows the rebirth of good beer more than 25 years ago from within a stronghold of yellow, fizzy industrial beer.
With nearly 20 books under his belt, Protz is twice winner of the Glenfiddich Drink Writer of the Year Award and won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Guild of Beer Writers in 2004. In A Life on the Hop, Protz proves his writing abilities again as he weaves his stories with bits of history and must-see highlights from some of the world’s best beer regions, making it an enjoyable read not only for the beer aficionado, but for travelers and history buffs, as well.