The Guardian’s "Best Books on Drink” Pick
Most people know that wine is created by fermenting pressed grape juice and cider by pressing apples. But although it’s the most popular alcoholic drink on the planet, few people know what beer is made of. In lively and witty fashion, Miracle Brew dives into traditional beer’s four natural ingredients: malted barley, hops, yeast, and water, each of which has an incredible story to tell.
From the Lambic breweries of Belgium, where beer is fermented with wild yeasts drawn down from the air around the brewery, to the aquifers below Burton-on-Trent, where the brewing water is rumored to contain life-giving qualities, Miracle Brew tells the full story behind the amazing role each of these fantastic four—a grass, a weed, a fungus, and water—has to play. Celebrated U.K. beer writer Pete Brown travels from the surreal madness of drink-sodden hop-blessings in the Czech Republic to Bamberg in the heart of Bavaria, where malt smoked over an open flame creates beer that tastes like liquid bacon. He explores the origins of fermentation, the lost age of hallucinogenic gruit beers, and the evolution of modern hop varieties that now challenge wine grapes in the extent to which they are discussed and revered.
Along the way, readers will meet and drink with a cast of characters who reveal the magic of beer and celebrate the joy of drinking it. And almost without noticing we’ll learn the naked truth about the world’s greatest beverage.