They say…

Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
Writer of "Probably the best book about beer in London" - Londonist
"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
"A joy to read" - Roger Protz
"Very authoritative" - Tim Webb.
"One of the top beer writers in the UK" - Mark Dredge.
"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor

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New London beer guide due this summer

What better image of beer? Fuller's Brewers Reserve No 3 maturing in the spare spaces of the Griffin brewery, spotted in January 2011.

Don’t you just hate finding websites with grandiose mission statements that haven’t been updated for many months? Me too. I should therefore apologise profusely for leaving this site in just such a state of neglect recently. However I have a very good excuse.

Since November I’ve been hard at work researching and writing my first book, London’s Best Beer and Bars, due to be published by CAMRA Books this July. The book is intended to provide a one stop shop for anyone with more than a passing interest in beer, resident or visitor, who wants to explore London’s already decent and rapidly improving beer scene. More than just a pub guide, it’s also a celebration of the renaissance of craft brewing in London and the capital’s increasingly vibrant community of specialist beer pubs and bars.

The biggest section of the book is a directory of places to drink — mainly pubs of various kinds, but also bars, the best beer shops and a few other places ike social clubs. They’ve been chosen to give a broad picture of the wide variety of top quality beer available in London — not only cask, but bottled and imported craft beers too. Then there’s an extensive section on beers widely available in London, not only from the UK but from some other countries, with brief tasting notes.

The London brewers are given enhanced coverage, and deservedly so, as this is one of the most exciting stories the book has to tell. When Young’s quit Wandsworth in 2006 they left behind only seven commercial breweries, of which only two were substantial producers of craft beer. But since early 2007 another six have appeared, and many of the existing brewers have developed and grown substantially. The quality too is impressive — as one brewer told me, there’s little point in brewing in London unless you can at least match the standard of Fuller’s.  Some of the new brewers are truly extraordinary, like the Kernel, recently listed as one of the top five newcomers of 2010 by ratebeer.com. While we’re still some way from reclaiming London’s title as the brewing capital of the world, we certainly don’t have to hang our heads in shame anymore when we’re asked about our local breweries.

London’s former glories are also covered, with plenty of background on brewing, history and geography to set the context, a roundup of beer styles and my own take on the obligatory ‘How beer is brewed’ article. All in all I’m very pleased with the book, and delighted to have been offered such a timely opportunity.

However producing such a book from scratch in a very short time frame while also holding down a full time job has proved something of a challenge. I negotiated a four week sabbatical from my day job, but that hasn’t been enough to complete the work, so I’ve been working on the book in my spare time too. I’ve pretty much worked every waking hour not taken up with the necessities of life every day between early November and early March, cancelling all but the most pressing existing commitments.

Extensive research accounted for much of the time. It may shock you to discover that some writers compile books of this kind exclusively by telephone and internet. I felt I owed it to my readers to visit everywhere that was included, even places I was familiar with, just to remind me.  Between 13 November and 8 February I visited practically every place on my original shortlist of 297, of which just over 250 have ended up in the book. It sounds like a riproaring pub crawl, but consider visiting 21 pubs in a 14-hour day with no more than a few sips of a half in any of them and you might take a different view. More time was spent travelling than in the pubs themselves — by every mode other than my own car, including bus, tube, train, tram, Boris bike and, just once, a taxi to extricate me from the rural extremities of the London Borough of Bromley. I’m grateful for being a keen and fast walker as this provided the most convenient mode for most of the trips. Of course there are worse jobs, but it’s certainly hard work!

While exhausting, it’s also been a fascinating and rewarding process. For all the gloom that seems to dominate parts of the industry, it’s great to see so many licensees doing well by being imaginative, enthusiastic and community focused as well as making the best of their beer offer. It’s also really encouraging to see a notably younger and very savvy crowd out enjoying fine beer in new pubs and bars like Cask, the Dean Swift, the Euston Tap, the Jolly Butchers, Mason & Taylor and the awesome Southampton Arms.

As the publication date approaches, I’ll be giving the book more exposure on this site. Inevitably a book like this goes out of date immediately the last word is written so after publication I aim to post updates on these pages.

Meanwhile, I’ll be back to some of those pubs myself for more than just a sip of a half!

Keep track of the latest news on the London page.

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