Modern British Beer
A New title from CAMRA Books
pre-orders and special offers available soon!
Modern British Beer aims to highlight the cultural development of beer in the United Kingdom since the turn of the century, while also attempting to define what “modern” means in today’s beer culture. The first-person narrative will be told through the stories of approximately 80 different beers and the brewers who make them, focusing on how their influence has directly affected our choice at the bar.
It aims to make a case that although British beer culture has changed drastically over the past few decades, it remains as culturally vital as ever, and that being Modern in the 21st century means a great deal more than simply making delicious beer.
Matthew is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer who writes about the emotion and culture of beer by channeling his unbridled enthusiasm for the nation’s favourite drink. He is the founder of Pellicle, a magazine dedicated to celebration the joyfulness of beer, wine and cider and is the author of An Opinionated Guide to London Pubs, to be published by Hoxton Mini Press in Spring 2021. Matthew’s work has also featured in Ferment, Good Beer Hunting, Beer and Hop & Barley among other publications. After spending 15 years living in London, he now lives in Manchester with his partner Dianne and their cat Cricket.
A New title from CAMRA Books
Advance extracts from the working manuscript – just a taste of what you can expect in this exciting new book from writer Matthew Curtis!
Chapter Three - Scotland
Beer in Scotland is almost like it’s own microcosm; a close up view through the lens of modern beer culture in the UK as a whole. It possesses a willingness to absorb as much information about beer making from all over the world, but channel it and transform into something that is resolutely and definitively Scottish. What we must surely be in agreement on is that without its influence, beer in the UK today would look very different indeed.
A detailed look at the beers that are shaping the British beer landscape – with over 80 breweries and a close encounter with the people behind their signature brews. Below is a small sample …..
SixºNorth — Auld Toon
Location: Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire
Style: Belgian Tripel
The town of Laurencekirk, to the south of Aberdeenshire, is a long way from Belgium. Almost 1200 kilometres by road, in fact, but if we’re talking in terms of longitude, it’s approximately six degrees north. When Robert Lindsay returned to the north east of Scotland to set up his brewery in 2013, he chose this name not only to signify its connection to the brewing traditions of the country that inspired him, but also to ground it within the Scottish brewing community.
At SixºNorth, Lindsay and his team have channeled the influence and flavours of Belgian beers into something resolutely Scottish. If this sounds a little far-fetched then my advice is to pay a visit to one of their excellent bars scattered throughout Scotland to see, and most importantly, taste, for yourself. Whether it’s in the idyllic setting of Stonehaven, sat across from the harbour with a plate of frites (with mayonnaise, as the Belgians do) or in one of their more urban settings, say in the east end of Glasgow, or beside the cobbled streets of Edinburgh’s New Town, I personally guarantee you’ll be convinced, as I was.
It was in their Aberdeen bar, on a solo trip to The Granite City early in 2015, when I experienced this effortless Belgo-Scottish juxtaposition for myself. Feeling peckish and ordering a traditional Flemish beef carbonnade (served in a bowl made from a freshly baked round of bread, no less) I recall perusing the lengthy tap list looking for something to lend a bit of cut and contrast to the rich and intensely savoury dish. A pilsner would have been too light, so too might be a saison—although I was sorely tempted—and the tart acidity of a Flemish red wasn’t what I was in the mood for at that moment in time.
After much deliberation I ended up plumping for the brewery’s Tripel, Auld Toon. And I was so glad I did. With the weight of it’s 9% alcohol it had the robust character needed to stand up to the bold, umami-laden flavours of the stew. With every mouthful of dense, fatty, delicious gravy I washed it down with another sip of beer, finding more to love about it each time I did so. There were spicy aromatics from yeast and hop alike; white pepper, coriander seed, cardamom, balanced by a fruity-almost apricot ester note. When the stew was gone there was only one thing for it: I ordered another.
“Auld Toon reflects where we’re from and why we started brewing, Belgian beer has always been at the heart of what we do,” the brewery’s Matt Carrington tells me. “It has a special place in the hearts of our customers, it is big and full of bold flavours but there is a balance of flavour and drinkability factor that keeps people wanting more.”
While I’ve not managed to replicate that food pairing since my visit, I have returned to the spritely, comforting qualities of Auld Toon when it’s available. Like all of SixºNorth’s Belgian-inspired beers it wears its influences proudly on its sleeve. But there’s an otherness to it as well, something that makes this beer inseparable from its Scottish origins.
Join Matthew on a journey of discovery from the north of Scotland all the way down to the south west of England. With an informal and personal writing style, this book will make you want to explore and discover what makes Modern British Beer such an integral and important part of British culture.
Available for pre-order soon – including some exciting opportunities
- to get your name in the acknowledgemnents,
- to secure a signed copy,
- to experience a tasting of some of the featured beers
- to wear the T-shirt
- to purchase some one-off bespoke photos from the author’s personal collection.