For those living in or visiting Britain and seeking out bottle-conditioned brews, the Good Bottled Beer Guide is a top resource. In his introduction, author Jeff Evans looks back to 1971, when there were only five bottled “real ales” available in Britain. Now, there are about 600. With the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) a driving force behind the near-resurrection of these natural and quality brews, things have certainly changed.
The book gives a short history and also discusses the differences between “real ale” in a bottle and lifeless, filtered and pasteurized beers offered by the megabrewers today. This is done in an easy-to-understand way, as are the rest of the explanations in the book.
The author discusses CAMRA’s new plan to have their stamp of authenticity on bottle-conditioned beers, and the widespread acceptance by Britain’s real ale brewers of the idea. He also gives advice on purchasing, storing, and drinking such brews.
There is a straight-forward section on the brewing process, and the methods of bottle-conditioning utilized by the brewers of real ale. There is also a discussion of how the big breweries bottle their beer, and why it is inferior to real ale in a bottle.
The book states that it lists every bottled real ale produced in the U.K. Each brewery is listed alphabetically, with the beers from each brewery described. This includes the alcohol content, size of the bottle, recommended serving temperature, ingredients (the specific malts and hops used), as well as the author’s own tasting notes. There are also comments on the history of some of the brews.
There is also a section on grocery stores that maintain good bottled beer selections, as well as specialty beer shops that carry bottle-conditioned beers. This includes addresses, telephone numbers, and internet sites.
There are additionally a number of foreign bottle-conditioned beers mentioned in a separate section, as well as a dictionary of terms used in the book relating to bottled beer and real ale.
Overall, this is a well-researched and well-presented book on the subject of bottle-conditioned beers in the U.K.; I would recommend it to readers interested in the subject.