Thursday 12 March 2009

Book review - Thirsty Dragon

Book Review: The Thirsty Dragon, Lyn Ebenezer 2006
ISBN: 1-84527-048-7, £5.50 116 pages, colour and B&W photos

I know this book was published in 2006 but it has only just found its way to the Brew Wales book reviewer. Books on Welsh drinks are few and far between, we have the excellent Prince of Ales by Brian Glover (published 1993) and the odd Farmhouse Brewing (1974, republished in Welsh 1983) and apart from the occasional company histories (Brains 1982 & 2007) and pub guides, books on drinks in Wales are not that easy to find. It was only by chance I found The Thirsty Dragon in a Cardiff bookshop when I was looking for another book! Sorry Doc I'll get round to buying Eagles Rising another time.
Lyn Ebenezer devotes a chapter of the book to a particular part of Welsh drinking; Mead, Monastic brewing, Cidermaking, Welsh Whisky and Wrexham all deservedly have chapters devoted to them but for some reason the entire 6 pages of Chapter 13 are given over to a hagiography of Simon Buckley, late of Buckleys, Ushers and Tomos Watkin Breweries but of more recent times, Evan Evans Brewery. Lyn Ebenezer was clearly taken in by the slimy charms of this former stockbroker as any serious journalistic research would have involved interviews with members of the Brains board and former Tomos Watkin board members in order to produce an accurate and balanced account of Simon Buckley's part in Welsh brewing history. Instead we have the various rants of the Clown Prince of Welsh Brewing blaming everyone else for failures of his businesses in the past. For an account of the opening of the Tomos Watkin brewery in Llansamlet click here. Chapter 13 also has a very amusing photo of Simon Buckley stood in front of pallets of empty casks. The reason why this photo is amusing is that recently Simon has been suspended from his membership of SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, for using other brewers casks without their permission. In fact one Evans Evan delivery occurred to a pub using 'borrowed' casks which came as a surprise to another brewer who was sat in the pub watching his casks being unloaded from the Evan Evans dray!
The rest of the brewers in Wales have to share the remaining 7 pages and a whole chapter to themselves. The author even gets the name of one award-winning North Wales brewery wrong, it's Purple Moose, not Pink Moose as in the book!
All in all this is a rather disappointing book, let down by the poor standards of research and writing, not to mention the amateurish photographs. I'm not sorry I bought it, but was left with the feeling that the author could have done better. Reminds me of a beer I may try once in a pub but is not that good so will avoid it in future.


Anonymous said...

You criticise the author for not having the right facts re Pink/ Purple moose, yet as far as I am aware Simon Buckley was never a stock broker. Perhaps you need to check your own facts before you judge other people.

Brew Wales said...

That 'fact' was from the book the Thirsty Dragon - it is even worse than I thought it was!

Fidothedog said...

Would that be the same S. Buckley who has a habit of "recycling" barrels?

Anonymous said...

Arfur; have a read of this.. This site is the personal beer and cider related ramblings of someone who lives in Wales and is not connected with CAMRA, ..

is that not a lie? You are connected with CAMRA, and you do hold yourself out to be the sppokes person for Gwent Branch, and also for the premier Welsh beer event in Cardiff, and you slag people off on your blog.

I noted you have not published Ron Lewis' response, and have failed to respond to mine.

Is that because you cant face the truth?

Why not turn this blog into something really good for Welsh Brewing and be positive.

Simon Buckley

Brew Wales said...

Simon, though you decide to publish anonymously.
I have published the Ron Lewis response and have done yours - though it might help if you put your name to the posts as you won't end up in the Junk Mail folder along with spamming adverts that are only fit for the Home Secretary's husband.
Once again you accuse me of lying. Is this you stooping to your usual insulting level once again or is this just the usual paranoia that seeps through your veins and seems to be the driving force behind conversation I have had with you.
"This blog is my personal beer and cider ramblings". Not the Simon Buckley fan club site or even those 2 attck blogs you have set up, one in order to prove your sanity "Sane Brewer".
There have been a lot of anonymous replies hitting this site at the moment - many from the same IP address in West Wales. Please Simon if you are going to order your staff to email in, then at least tell them to put their names at the top of the reply - I may actually read them then.


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