Most beer bloggery type book reviews come out of a few simple routes. Established beer writer knocks up book, the fans buy it, read it, praise it. Beer Blogger gets an actual paid gig, knocks up book, sends some out free to other bloggers, it gets read and praised. This is a tad different as it’s not beer writers, bloggers and I actually bought the damn thing with cash because I thought it might be entertaining.
Drinking for Chaps is a book spin off from The Chap magazine, a satirical magazine all about applying the values of the past to the present through the mechanism of dressing up in tweed, smoking a pipe and doffing your trilby hat at ladies. Website here and if you read nothing of it, do check out the chap manifesto, it’s delightful. All of it harmless enough. I occasionally read the magazine myself when the like of Steve McQueen or Cary Grant appear on the cover, as despite being a T-shirt and jeans scruff I do admire these style icons of a previous age. I’d love to be arsed to wear a suit but unfortunately cannot afford a butler, is of a generation were your girl doesn’t iron your shirts, and can’t be much arsed to do it myself. If I did I would want to pull off the mid-atlantic style of either of those 2, combining the sartorial elegance of British tailoring with the whiff of French panache and American modernism. Steve and Cary nailed it. Unfortunately all I muster is a Marks and Spencer whistle recently dry cleaned for a job interview.
Steve McQueen in arguably the most erotic scene in cinema, ever.
I do occasionally see these vintage fairs knocking about, where people dress up in old clobber and see it could be a harmless bit of fun and enjoyably different way of getting pissed. A mint julep whilst wearing a trilby being a nice change from a can of lout on the sofa in my underpants. Harmless for those that like to wear tweed or allied WW2 uniforms. I have my doubts about the ones dressed up as Nazis. As stylish as a bit of black leather and Hugo Boss is, surely that’s not on?
One of the themes of chapism as far as I can make out is that a gentleman wears nice clobber, has an eye for the ladies, has impeccable manners and likes a drink. On two of those I qualify, take your pick which.
But the book? The book is a guide to getting sloshed in style for the modern man. Knowing the importance of intellectualizing drinking as an actual hobby to make it respectable and differentiate yourself from the common park bench cider drunk, the book guides you through different categories of booze.
It takes in Cocktails, Champagne, Wines, Spirits, Liqueurs and of course the most important thing, BEER!
For a book written to amuse, it contains a lot of actual informative stuff. I found myself learning stuff as I laughed along. Ironic snobbery is the main basis of the humour, suggesting the social situations and clothes most appropriate for each drink. The book breezes along with a joy of life, a joy of drinking and a joy of getting pissed that it is impossible not to love and I found myself wishing I was an actual chap that does such stuff.
Some of the jokes are better than others, and you will have heard most of them before, but the joy with which many are retold elicits a chuckle. The 3 types of people that drink beer are youthful hipsters, potbellied CAMRA types & Australians. Drum roll. Their description of the British pub is wistful enough to wish their description true rather than the reality of the modern Wetherspoons. I want to go there in tweed.
I loved the book, loved every bit of it, learned a surprising amount about booze I didn’t know before and went out afterwards to see whether the supermarket had mint leaves with which to make a mint julep from the bottle of Jim Beam I have in the cupboard.
Written no doubt as Christmas stocking filling tat, the book is better than the genre within which it sits and better than most beer books that most beer writers have knocked up recently. I commend it to you.
ps. yes I bought it, and not from a charity shop, and no one has paid me to recommend it, in cash or in kind.