Monday, 5 December 2011

Andy Hamilton "Booze for Free"

A few months ago the kind people at Transworld Publishers asked if I'd like a copy of a book to review, it being Andy Hamilton's  "Booze for free".
The author is known mostly for his work on brewing and gardening, in publications such as The Guardian and the BBC Countryfile magazine.
I have read him before in Kitchen Garden magazine which is kind of aimed at those with allotments and small holdings, and also online at the He is also known for his brewing through the Bristol Brewing Circle which benefits from his foraging expertise.

Booze for Free is a combination of all these elements, hoping to providing a guide on collecting ingredients, brewing beers, wines, spirits and many other styles as you can see from the cover photo.
The first third of the book gives an introduction to foraging, wine, beer and cider making, equipment and processes. Whilst I'm no expert on making these drinks and therefore cannot comment on its accuracy, its presented simply and very readable, and I would suspect very easy to follow.

The main contents of the book is then presented seasonally, each chapter listing the forthcoming recipes.
At the end is helpful advice, websites and organisations, and a glossary.

Overall its a great little book, a great handful size (?A5) with a nice looking cover.
The range of seasonal produce is quite varied and interesting, that you can have an extremely cheap or free drink based on a little produce gathering and time is brilliant. The book is interspersed with amusing stories from Andy brewing/foraging past, and the general style is very readable.
Picking this up you autmatically think of what is in your garden and local area that could be used.
The inside page quality is possibly were publishing costs are saved in order to provide it at a reasonable price, with also drawn illustrations instead of photos.
This was obvious when the description of sloes was not quite like the produce I had picked, and I was unsure if I had the right fruit. A photo would have cleared it up, I had to google to ensure they were indeed sloes not bullaces (Which they were so looking forward to sloe gin this xmas).

However its a great book, an ideal xmas present. I could quite imagine my wife or dad seeing this and thinking of me, and I would have been rightly happy to receive it.
It sells with a RRP of £9.99 but I'm am sure its available for a better price in the run up to the present season.

Thank you to Kate at Transworld Publishing for sending me this for review.

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