Imagine traveling all over the world for the sole purpose of drinking beer. Along the way you get to talk to other beer lovers about why and where they enjoy their favorite ales or lagers. In short, imagine traveling all over the world trying to find the meaning of beer. Sounds like a dream, right?
Now, think about it again. Think about it practically. Remember the last time you woke and immediately regretted that last beer or two that you had the night before? Now imagine that feeling in a hotel room, far from home, with an early plane that you have to catch so you can fly to another city just to drink more beer (the last thing that you really want to do just then) and talk to more beer people. Starting to sound a little nightmarish, isn’t it?
But don’t get me wrong. I’m completely envious of Pete Brown for this is exactly the pilgrimage that he took. I’d go tomorrow if given the chance. He chronicles his trip in Three Sheets to the Wind. Starting with a simple pint with a friend in London, Brown’s journey led him to the Czech Republic, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, the US, Australia, Japan, China, Germany (during Oktoberfest, of course), Norway and Sweden.
Three Sheets to the Wind is an absolutely delightful read. It is full of information about beer drinking, beer drinkers, beer-makers, and beer-sellers all over the world. From his description of a devious ham and beer vendor in Madrid, to the ice-encrusted beer taps in Australia, to the 007 villain-like brewers in Japan, Brown provides plenty of fascinating stories about beer culture all over.
But don’t go thinking that this is a stodgy travel book with carefully crafted and antiseptic discussions of other places. Brown’s writing style is completely conversational and he pulls no punches in his descriptions of the people, places, and beer companies that he encounters. His self-effacing style and wry wit lends the narrative a charm and keeps this bald honesty from seeming nasty. You get the feeling that this is exactly the way that Brown would tell you his stories over a pint back in that London pub.
I’d recommend Three Sheets to anyone who likes to travel, likes beer, or, even better, likes both.