Tuesday, 16 June 2009

My favourite pub guide

Ethics. They're like sensible shoes. We wouldn't want to live without them, but who wants to go shopping for them?

I want to be honest with you, so disclaimers upfront. I didn't pay for my copy of this book. I also contributed to it. (Two crappy pages, which were much improved by the editor.) That honest enough? I happen to quite like the author, too.

If I thought the book was crap, my approach would be simple. Silence. But it isn't crap. So I feel obliged to say something.

It seems like more than a decade since I began my own stulted and cowering beer-writing career. Hang on, it was more than a decade ago. Which just goes to show how long Tim has been in the game. One of my early sources and inspirations was Tim Webb's Benelux Guide. It and Peter Crombecq's books taught me most of what little I know about Belgian beer and pubs.

My first entry into the world of beer literature was a tiny Amsterdam Pub Guide webpage. The format, content and style owed much to Tim. More than I would readily like to admit. Handing him the latest print version of my guide in exchange for the GBG Belgium, I thought I'd got a much the better deal. My own book lay flat and lifeless on the table next to his vibrant full-colour work. Humility may not be fashionable, but it has its place.

Even a cynical, critical bastard like me has to admit that beer writing is on the up. My yardstick is simple: could I have done as good a job? I've already found two books this year that surpass my capabilities: "Hops & Glory" and "Good Beer Guide Belgium".

Rejoice. We live in a golden age of beer literature.

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