Booze for Free by Andy Hamilton

Andy Hamilton, 14 August 2011, 31 comments
Categories: Food, Home brewing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Booze for free front coverDespite the long lonely days (and sometimes nights) with just a keyboard for company, the occasionally twinge of RSI, the days of procrastination and the slow withdraw from everyday life, I love being a writer and especially a non-fiction writer. One of the main reasons is that I get to choose what to write about and therefore what I do for around about a year (which is the length of time it takes me to write a book). With Booze for Free, my latest book,  I sat down and thought to myself, “what do I want to do for the next year”? I came up with the idea that I’d like to combine some of my biggest passions foraging, gardening, trying new flavours and (perhaps most importantly) getting drunk.

The next hurdle was to convince a publisher to buy the book, so I could afford to take time to write it. This involved traipsing halfway across Bristol with a bag full of home brew and some recipes neatly stacked away in a folder in order to meet up with my potential editor.

Our meeting started off well and Susanna (my editor) asked to try a beer. The first one I opened  fizzed all over my face, hers, her table, walls and all over the neat folder containing the book outline and the recipes. Somehow this embarrassing moment was ignored as luckily the bay and rosemary ale flavour was not only great tasting but enough to convince her to go ahead with the project.  Mind you the meeting wasn’t over and another downside of the boozy meeting was that after a bay and rosemary ale, some pumpkin ale, some parsnip sherry and some damson vodka I can’t say I was exactly sober. This is perhaps why I boastfully insisted that the book should contain no fewer than 100 recipes!

Of course many of the recipes I’d already tried out and so that part of the book was easy to write. Over the year the other recipes emerged from careful research (hic), friends and others were born of experimentation. Once you have made a few wines, beers, cordials, champagnes it is becomes easier to work out what works. This I hope will become apparent as people use it. The idea really is that this book become a useful reference. Something that helps give the building blocks needed to get on and make your own drinks both soft and alcoholic. Mind you, there are enough recipes that even those who just want to use a book should be kept busy for some time too.

I wasn’t content with just writing a recipe book and decided it also wanted it to be a valuable resource. This is why a good third of the book is full of reference material be it a very comprehensive glossary or information where locally to find home brew equipment.

The book is divided up into season and then further into fruits, nuts or plants with foraging and/or growing information for each one. This means that you can quickly find what is available and what to do with it.

Well that my latest book and it is avaible here. 


31 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Ange
    16 August 2011, 6:04 pm

    When’s it due to be released Andy?

  2. Andy Hamilton
    16 August 2011, 6:06 pm

    Hello Ange

    It’s release date is 1st September.

  3. VP
    19 August 2011, 12:20 pm

    And judging by the snippets you’ve had on The Grauniad gardening blog you’ve come up with a surefire winner!

  4. Andy Hamilton
    19 August 2011, 12:28 pm

    Thank you, I really hope so too!

  5. BrightonBaker
    23 August 2011, 12:39 pm

    This book sounds great! I’d rather not give my cash to Amazon though… There’s a great independent book website – maybe you could sell it through that site?

  6. Andy hamilton
    23 August 2011, 6:05 pm

    I was looking for a reliable indie that I could easily set up an affliate with. Couldn’t find anything online. Anyway, have got in touch with Dan at beetroot and will see if we can work something out.


  7. Ange
    28 August 2011, 1:54 pm

    Yay, have it on order for my birthday, looking forward to trying some new brews for christmas :-)

  8. Andy hamilton
    28 August 2011, 2:10 pm

    Great stuff Ange, Blackberry wine will be a good option for Christmas as you can drink that young.

  9. Scrap
    04 September 2011, 11:17 am

    Just ordered!
    …As promised,Andy.

  10. Andy hamilton
    04 September 2011, 7:33 pm

    Cool Scrap and actually now you can buy the book through Beetroot books by clicking on that link above.

    Thanks to anyone and everyone who has bought the book!

  11. Selrouge
    11 October 2011, 2:03 pm

    Just got my copy. Looking forward to diving into it. Cheers!

  12. Tiff Leek
    08 December 2011, 1:33 pm

    Looks great – are you looking to release it in ebook format at all? I don’t know if beetroot books do epub or the like? I particularly like to have this sort of book in a searchable format..
    cheers, Tiff

  13. Andy Hamilton
    09 December 2011, 4:16 pm

    It is available as an ebook if you have a quick look over on Amazon!

  14. david moralee
    30 January 2012, 8:47 pm

    on your holy water page 279. have you got your wieghts correct for the sugar as 4 kg dosent make 2lb or should bve the other way round e.g. 4lb or 2kg. as 4kg of sugar for 8pints of water seems very strange

  15. Andy Hamilton
    30 January 2012, 10:20 pm

    Thanks for pointing it out David, it got caught in the reprint. A mistake was made somehow slipped through from writing it and it being copy edited it. It should be 4lb/2kg sugar.

    On a plus point it means you have a slight rarity and if it continues to sell as it is, it could be worth something one day!

  16. david moralee
    31 January 2012, 10:17 pm

    cool, i hope £10,000 like the first editions of harry potter…. LOL

  17. Jona
    06 February 2012, 10:46 am

    Hey Andy, I love the ideas in the book but ‘free’ booze. Most of them aren’t really free, especially the dry hopped stuff / tissanes?
    Have to say it has given me many ideas though :)

  18. Andy Hamilton
    06 March 2012, 12:33 pm

    Hello Jona,

    You are right of course, indeed there are only really 2 recipes in the whole book that are free. The title is a bit tounge in cheek and a slight ode to the great Richard Mabey’s book Food for Free.

    At book signings “Booze for free” always raises a smile and thats also what I hope the booze itself does too.

    Its good to hear that its giving you ideas though. That’s exactly what I wanted the book to do. To work as a both a recipe book and a template for people to build upon.

  19. Helen de Walais
    13 March 2012, 1:48 pm

    Hi Andy, bought your book (kindle version) a week ago and what an enjoyable read! I am inspired now..I already had CJJ Berry’s book but I was a bit overwhelmed by it, you made it seem simpler and more accessible (although maybe I’m a bit naive, will see what success I actually have when I try it! Congratulations and thanks for the book!

  20. Andy Hamilton
    14 March 2012, 8:34 am

    Thanks very much Helen. I tried to get across that home brewing can be easy so I very happy that you think I managed it!

  21. JoMo
    12 April 2012, 2:56 pm

    Hey Andy – I can’t seem to buy the book in Australia. Are you able to fix that? Booze is expensive here you know! Kindle version would be just awesome.

  22. Andy Hamilton
    12 April 2012, 3:34 pm

    The publishers site has copies here – but yep you might be able to buy a kindle version on the Amazon uk site. Its really up to my publishers where the book is sold, I don’t have any say in the matter. If enough people wrote to them asking for a Australian edition though…..

  23. Andrew Gordon
    22 June 2012, 7:58 pm

    Hi Andy, (great name by the way),

    Thank you for a grand talk slash walk in Stanmer Park last weekend. I am well on my way to become a masterish brewer. Bought the nessessery (can’t spell) gear to get started. 4 weeks time I will either be very pissed or very dead (if I get mixed up Yarrow/elderflower or Hemlock) Sure I wont…. I will do the nibble taste test and if I cant talk due to numbing after said nibble I’ve cracked it. Take care and thanks again. Andrew

  24. Andy Hamilton
    22 June 2012, 9:49 pm

    Thanks Andy!

    It was a cracking weekend and good luck with the brewing!

  25. Adele
    09 September 2012, 5:49 pm

    Hi Andy, Just started the Bay & Rosemary Ale and there’s no mention, in the book, of when to add the 250g of golden syrup…so I’m hoping that it’s at the same time as the sugar, as that’s what I’ve done! Thanks.

  26. Andy Hamilton
    12 September 2012, 10:59 am

    Add it as a primer, see the last para! You’ll end up with stronger beer now. It might help to read the section on beer making. Cheers Adele, hope you enjoy.

  27. Lawrence S
    13 September 2012, 12:12 pm

    Hi Andy
    Just started this home-brewing lark, I mean serious endeavour – and thought your holy water might be a good place to begin. Fell foul of the amount of sugar misprint but rectified that…however – now that the fermentation looks to be coming to an end – don’t know what to expect – does the liquid clear or does it stay cloudy? i.e. what does it look like when done?! Do we have to do anything else? Any advice would be very welcome. Thanks

  28. Andy Hamilton
    13 September 2012, 12:28 pm

    Hmm, yep proof readers error that one sorry about that.

    If it doesn’t drop then you might want to think about racking it, it should be pretty clear when done (look up racking in BFF). It can be loopy juice so I’d advise booking the day off work the day after you drink it. I made some for my first book launch and promplty forgot the second half of it. You might also be interested in my new site mate, I’ve been keeping that more booze and foraging orinated. I’ve called it the Other Andy Hamilton

  29. Greg
    21 November 2012, 5:19 pm

    I’ve made 36 litres of the Holy Water so far and racking it once before bottling is my best advice too, aswell as drinking it with either blackcurrant or elderberry cordial. This is the best book I’ve ever owned, thanks to my amazing girlfriend who bought it for me….and the author of course.

  30. SauvignonBlonde
    16 March 2013, 2:36 pm

    [...] year I had the chance to attend Andy Hamilton’s session, “Booze for Free.” Suddenly I wanted to buy a freezer and spend hours wandering hedgerows searching for suitable [...]

  31. Anca
    06 November 2013, 9:46 pm

    Got the book a few days ago and absolutely love it.
    I have freezer full of berries and stuff that I picked earlier in the year and have a few gallons on the go ;-)

Leave a Reply:

Name *

Mail (hidden) *