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  • Writer's pictureMatt Chinnery

Around…in 80 Beers, Book Review


DK Eyewitness, Lonley Planet, Tripadvisor, AA Travel and Michelin all take a back seat for a minute and listen up … There is only one book for the beer thirsty traveler…


Roughly a year ago or so I made one of the best purchases I have ever made when it comes to travelling. After having the pleasure to see Podge’s beer bar in action at the Chelmsford CAMRA Summer beer festival I did a bit of a Google on them. For anyone who has never heard of Podge then here is a quick summery, he and his team run and organises the Belgium and World bar called Belgafest Bar at most of Essex’s large beer festivals  (Chelmsford, Chapel and Colchester to name just three), he is the travel guide for anyone who is lucky enough to part take in one of his incredible looking Belgium Beer tours, he is a connoisseur of pickled eggs and he is part of a team of beer writers that created my best travel purchase. With 25 years of beer event management under his belt Podge’s knowledge is priceless!


80 Beers in … London / Berlin / Brussels / Bruges / Amsterdam, 5 different guides to 80 different beers in 80 different bars and pubs in each of these major European cities. These guides are special because not only are you given advise on 80 different beers you are told about 80 different bars or pubs that the beer is  served in, some of which are not your ‘typical’ drinking holes. Unlike some beer guide books these books are very open minded and adventurous including many different restaurants, museums, book shops and even a bowling alley! Importantly these collections of venues all have one thing in common … selling really decent beer!


Podge is not the only author of these books he shares the honors with Siobhan McGinn for their books on 80 beers in London, Brussels and Bruges (which is into its third edition!) and then you have Peter Sutcliffe to guide you through the beers and bars of Berlin and Tim Skelton to guide you along the canals of Amsterdam. Each page is brought to life by an easy readable format and lots of glorious photos of each beer and a selection of the bar as well as information of what to expect from each bar wether it food selection, amount of beers on offer, opening times or address. Another hugely helpful addition to these books is the map which is mostly found within the starting pages, all identified by the  number bar  so it is easy to plan out your days pub crawl or if you fancied something to eat and wanted to see where was close by. I have used these books in Bruges, Brussels and Amsterdam (continuously using it in London of course!) and I have to say at certain points they saved the trip! I ended up ditching the maps from Google maps as they love to delete certain roads and alleyways and used the maps included in these books instead. The whole Amsterdam trip was planed and worked around the maps inside the 80 Beers in Amsterdam book. Here are some highlights from each of my experiences with each book…


80 Beers in Amsterdam…

The map in here is brilliant we used it as a tourist map the whole time we was away like I previously mentioned but one time it was particularly good was when we had an hour to kill waiting for our canal trip boat. Being right at the bottom of the canal ring we thought there may not be much to do around the area but thanks to the book we found the delightful Gollum bar in the up and coming are of Amsterdam called pijp.


80 Beers in Bruges…

On our last day in Bruges after using the book many times to discover the many beautiful little cafes of Bruges we found ourselves with a few hours till we had to leave with very hungry stomachs! Thanks to the book we had one of the best meals we have ever had in the tasty Cambrinus.

Whenever I am reading the book in a pub or showing a friend it always seems to attract attention from other people in the bar or the person working behind the bar sparking off some decent pub conversation. When we were in Amsterdam we even had an American drinker say he had that book himself which was great knowing that they was reaching out to people of the world far and wide.

I really hope that the 80 Beers in London book follows the Bruge books and has a second edition especially as there hasn’t been a greater time to drink new beer in London. There would be some great additions to the book with places like The Euston Tap, Leyton Orient supporters club, Tap East and all the new tasting rooms and pubs popping up across the capital! If any help was needed in finding 80 beers in 80 bars then you know where to find me

; )

If you haven’t seen them before then I really recommend buying one you will not be disappointed and if you haven’t heard of Podge before then check his website below for all your Belgium needs (his Google map bar guides for some smaller Belgium towns are very useful too and shall be used when I am in Belgium next month)

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