Thursday, 12 January 2012

Three Sheets to the Wind by Pete Brown book review in The Daily Yomiuri on 10th Junw 2006

Beer: the sociable beverage
By Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

Three Sheets to the Wind
By Pete Brown
Macmillan, 458 pp, 10.99 pounds

Fancy a beer? You will after reading Pete Brown's account of a 72,000-kilometer odyssey through the beer-drinking nations of the world.

In Three Sheets to the Wind, Brown invites the reader to join him on the ultimate pub crawl, through a dozen countries across four continents. After 450 pages, you don't even end up with a hangover.

With the highest per capita beer consumption in the world, it seems appropriate for his odyssey to start in the Czech Republic, allowing him the first of many opportunities to attack the U.S. corporate owner of 'The King of Beers' as he enjoys a glass of old-fashioned, noncorporate Budwar in its hometown of Ceske Budejovice.

Living in Japan, I'm always curious to hear the views of visitors, and Brown's observations on Tokyo follow the usual 10-years-into-the-future line.

His arrival on flight number 007 inspires a James Bond theme for his trip, from his description of the electronic traffic congestion guide at Narita Airport as straight from a Roger Moore-era Bond film to his trip to an Asahi brewery, where he likens watching the introductory video in sumptuous surroundings to a scene from the lair of one of Sean Connery's foes in the 1960s.

The "heart of Japanese beer drinking," according to Brown, can be found at the yakitori stalls under the tracks near Yurakucho Station, though his descriptions of "tan" (tongue) as heart and "leba" (liver) as tongue are a little off the mark.

A trip to Ireland for St. Patrick's Day takes him to Dublin, where he discovers that Guinness is hugely popular in Nigeria for its supposed aphrodisiac qualities. A bottle left out by a Nigerian woman for her husband when he comes home means he won't get much sleep that night if she has anything to do with it.

The United States has more types of beer than anywhere else in the world and he heads for "Beervana" (Portland, Ore.), where he discovers the spiritual home of American craft brewing.

The city is clearly a hit with the author, as would be any town that's home to 70 microbreweries and brewpubs. His description of the Horse Brass pub and its 50 plus draft beers has moved the City of Roses to the top of this particular beer hunter's list of places to go in the United States.

If Portland is Beervana, the Oktoberfest in Germany is the ultimate bacchanalia. Never has an oompah band sounded so inviting as when Brown tells of the camaraderie and fun of quaffing liters of German beer with 5,000 fellow drinkers in a tent.

The book ends with the author returning to his hometown of Barnsley, in northern England, to check out the binge-drinking culture seemingly rife in the nation by experiencing the phenomenon first hand.

However, he heads back to London on a positive note when he realizes the boozers in Barnsley have as much energy after a night out as their peers in Roppongi, Tokyo, or Las Ramblas, Barcelona. They are all simply out to have a good time.

Brown concludes that "beer is without doubt the most sociable drink in the world," and generally that's the feeling that comes across in the book. After drinking in over 400 pubs and bars across the world, his belief in the sense of companionship in a good pub holds strong. You never know when you'll find one, but the search is part of the fun.

Now, what'll it be--lager, stout or bitter?

No comments:

Post a Comment