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Amber, Gold & Black: The History of Britain's Great Beers [Hardcover]

Martyn Cornell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

June 1 2010
Amber, Gold & Black is a comprehensive history of British beer in all its variety. It covers all there is to know about the history of the beers Britons have brewed and enjoyed down the centuries—Bitter, Porter, Mild and Stout, IPA, Brown Ale, Burton Ale and Old Ale, Barley Wine and Stingo, Golden Ale, Gale Ale, Honey Ale, White Beer, Heather Ale, and Mum. This is a celebration of the depths of British beery heritage, a look at the roots of the styles that are enjoyed today as well as lost ales and beers, and a study of how the liquids that fill our beer glasses developed over the years. From beginner to beer buff, this history will tell you things you never knew before about Britain's favorite drink.

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About the Author

Martyn Cornell is an award-winning author and journalist, a founding member of the British Guild of Beer Writers, and a former Beer Writer of the Year. His other titles include Beer: The Story of the Pint and Beer Memorabilia.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Amber Gold & Black Sept. 24 2010
By kevin
This book was very interesting, I really liked the history of the different types of beers. I personally think that the font could be at least one or two sizes larger.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-researched review of brewing history Sept. 1 2010
By L. G. Howarth - Published on
I added this book to my Amazon wish list because it looked somewhat interesting... I then bought it when I was given Amazon gift vouchers for my birthday and I've now almost finished reading it. I am so glad I did because it is way more than "somewhat interesting"! It is a very well-researched and easy to read review of the history of brewing.

Even though I thought I knew most things about beer and brewing (and I've even written a book about beer myself - The Home Brewer's Recipe Database), I learned several new (to me) facts from reading this book. If asked, I'd have assumed that "Burton Ale" was a strong pale ale such as Inde Coope Burton Ale but this book shows that I'd have been wrong. Not only is Burton Ale a stronger, darker brew than any pale ale but I've actually drank several examples of the style and thoroughly enjoyed them!

Martyn also dispels some often-repeated myths about the origins of Porter, IPA and other styles. This is very refreshing (pun intended). It is perhaps not surprising that many changes in brewing practice were driven by changes in government tax legislation.

The chapter on use of herbs in brewing is fascinating - I never realised how many of the weeds growing my garden contained hallucinogens! These probably added to the experience of drinking ales brewing using them during history. Brewers probably didn't stop brewing with herbs because of any issues with beer quality - it was because it was banned by the government. Hops were taxed, herbs weren't.

Although this book is focussed on British brewing history, there are some connection with other country's beers. Commercial examples of some styles have survived outside the UK even when they have become extinct in the parent country.

This book has been a huge inspiration for brewing my own beers with a better informed knowledge of the history of brewing that allows me to not only develop new recipes but also a story behind the recipe. I'm sure that this is going to become one of the most useful books in my brewing library and I'll refer to it frequently while thinking up recipe designs. I'm sure that this book will be of interest to anyone interested in beer and its history, even if they aren't a brewer. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great detailed book on history of British beer April 27 2013
By David Dare - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Mr. Cornell is my kind of historian, and I follow his excellent online blog, because his outlook is one that I usually share. This small book is full of details, but not great as a style introduction book. I would highly recommend Randy Mosher's book: "Tasting Beer", which I believe is where I first heard of Martyn Cornell. (It may have been Randy's other great book for homebrewer's: Radical Brewing) This book gets much further into what these styles really were or may have been as time passed. It provides a much greater understanding on what these styles really were, and helps you to appreciate those who try to perpetuate some of them. An example of a brewery in New England, where I live, that works at this fairly well is the "Pretty Things Ale Project". They're not always a hit, but often provide some interesting contemplation. What is missing here in southern New England, as far as I'm aware, is the ability to taste some of these styles naturally - i.e. cask conditioned. This book is great for details and for its research, but it isn't the kind of book that is florid. It is laid out well and sometimes bears re-reading once certain parts of history from style to style overlap, but it doesn't seem overly complicated. Nor does it read like poetry. Sometimes I really appreciate this as a reader, where the imagination of the writer can improve the absorption of the topic. I find his writing style interesting enough on these topics, especially when contemplated with a beer that is as close as possible to the style being read about. Cheers!
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed. July 14 2014
By NeroFiddled - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure of what to expect from Martyn Cornell's "Amber, Gold & Black" but I was pleasantly surprised!

As a professional brewer myself, I'm happy to report that he's included enough technical information (i.e. gravities, etc.) to make the book very useful. At the same time, the information is just put out there and a layman can either skim past it, or use it as a general comparison.

Any home-brewer who has an interest in English ales should definitely look into it; and I'm hoping that it will help to champion a wide range of British beers that are currently falling below the radar for many as the United States (and others: Brew Dog & Mikkeler, for example) push towards and promote bigger and bolder, more overwhelming ales and lagers.

More importantly, he writes quite well and it reads smoothly, and without side-treks. He takes the reader down a clear track, covering all of the bases (some of which I was even unaware of - wheat beer, chapter 10!). It's easy and entertaining to the point that almost anyone who has any interest in beer might find it worthwhile.

In conclusion, I'll bow my head and take a moment of silence before I write this as I knew Michael myself, but I feel that Martyn Cornell has taken the baton that Michael Jackson handed him and he's running with it. Check out his blog as well - there's even more crazy stuff there!
4.0 out of 5 stars Encyclopedic Volume on Beer Styles March 11 2014
By Mac - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a very thorough volume on British beer styles. Although dense with names and a bit dry (at times), the book is great for those seeking a deeper knowledge of what they are drinking.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for your beer library! Nov. 8 2013
By Neil Spake - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Martyn Cornell is perhaps the finest, most accurate British beer writer there is. A must for any British beer history buff, homebrewer, or craft brewer.
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