This week we were lucky enough to experience a Summersdale first; indeed, possibly a world first! Our clever author Jane Peyton not only launched two books, Beer O’Clock and School of Booze, but brewed a beer just for the occasion! Jane brewed the eponymous ‘Beer O’Clock’ beer with the help of Sara Barton, of Brewster’s Brewery, using fresh green hops, and served up in the marvellous Fuller’s Mad Bishop & Bear pub at Paddington Station.

Book launch welcome sign

Of course, books are our passion at Summersdale, but we can’t deny that a little flame flickers for certain tipples, and at the idea of a beer and book launch we were out of quiet, cobbled Chichester and into the bustling metrop. before you could say ‘Beer, anyone?’ We don’t think it’s too shameful to admit we were first at the bar for a golden glass of Beer O’Clock.

Books and beer

We had a game go at trying to taste the flavours from the tasting notes – marmalade, citrus and floral with a biscuit backbone – with some Summersdaliens proving to have a more sophisticated palate than others. Meanwhile the pub had started to buzz with people and Jane (sporting the snazziest vintage gold waistcoat we’ve ever seen) was kept very busy mingling and signing copies of School of Booze and Beer O’Clock, that were available on site.

Jane Peyton with her beer and her books

Luckily we were surrounded by top tipplers, all equally enthusiastic about the wonders of booze and beer, so our outpourings of all the fascinating facts we’d recently learned from our books fell on receptive ears, and we even learnt a few new things ourselves – did you know that the first beer brewed in Britain was made using heather, and was actually a mild hallucinogen, or that gin and tonic was originally used as an anti-malaria medicine (so what’s your gran’s excuse)?

Although we know that for some, the dreaded ‘C’ word is absolutely banned until December, for others Christmas was very much on their minds and we heard of quite a few lucky uncles (infamously difficult to buy for) and mums that would be receiving signed copies of Beer O’Clock and School of Booze this year.

Both of these handsomely designed books are packed to bursting with wonderful nuggets of information about your favourite tipples – for the beer lover, the choice is obvious, but for those of you who are partial to a little bit of something on the rocks, a glass of fine wine or perhaps something a little more exotic (absinthe, anybody?) School of Booze makes a perfect drinking companion. For a limited time, there are signed copies of the book available through Jane’s website – the perfect opportunity to kick-start your (look away now, December purists) Christmas shopping. Were you at the launch? If so, what did you think of Beer O’Clock?

Happy boozing!

There are eight days to go until the big day! How on earth did that happen? If you’re stuck for the perfect present for friends or family, then look no further…here’s our ultimate Summersdale books Christmas gift guide. As an added bonus, books are really easy to wrap!

For your kids’ teacher, because everybody knows a teacher…

‘The Art of Teaching’

Marking, planning, stealing colleagues’ milk – teaching has always been a difficult job. Now, with this outrageous catalogue of teaching aids, the times educational miscreant shares his unique approach to many of teaching’s most taxing problems. £9.99

The bestselling ‘F in Exams’ and ‘F in Retakes’

‘F in Exams’ is packed full of hilarious exam answers children have written when they just don’t quite know the correct answer Q: What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty? A: He says goodbye to childhood and enters adultery. £5.99

‘F in Retakes’ is the fantastic follow up to the bestselling original with more rip-roaring exam answers, featuring the original hand-written papers! £5.99

For the person who knows everything, or thinks they do

‘The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetteer’

This book brings together hundreds of remarkable facts and feats each pertaining to a different location from across Britain and Ireland. £12.99

For the ultimate Christmas fanatic

‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Tops Tips for a Truly Wonderful Christmas’

This indispensable gem of a book offers practical tips on everything from organising party games the whole family will enjoy to planning the all-important Christmas dinner, and will help ensure that Christmas is manageable, and more importantly, fun. £5.99

For the pet owner

‘The Dog Puzzler’ and ‘The Cat Puzzler’

These gorgeous hardback puzzler books are the perfect bedside companion for dog and cat owners. There are 200 intriguing puzzles, ranging from Spot the Difference to code-breaking games, and are just the thing for whiling away those evenings curled up by the fire with a furry companion. £9.99

For the history enthusiast

‘Military Quotations: Stirring Words of War and Peace’

Whether applauding great victories or standing firm against the horrors and injustice of war, the quotations and stories of this collection will take the reader on a roller-coaster ride through the many unique experiences of military history. All wrapped up in a beautifully presented hardback book £9.99

For the baker

‘Bake for Britain’

Whether they’re a bread boffin or a pastry pundit, it’s time to put on the aprons, dig out the mixing bowls and start the oven because it’s time to go baking mad. Here’s a book packed with recipes and quotations that will sweeten their day. £4.99

Happy Christmas from all at Summersdale!

This past weekend we set aside a crisp, wintry day to complete our home-made Christmas gifts inspired by Eat, Drink and Be Merry.

The ingredients for our pot pourri (pine cones, cranberries, dried pomegranates and oranges, cinnamon sticks and assorted woodland prettiness) were almost ready to be packaged up. First we had to soak the woody bits in the essential oils we had bought – brandied apple, mulled wine and Christmas spice. The whole room was filled with smells of Yuletide festivity!

We arranged the ingredients on snowball-dotted cellophane, and added in some scented, glittery candles for good measure. We tied them with a bow, and that was it! They make perfect, personalised gifts, with the added bonus that you get to enjoy all the lovely smells for yourself while you make them and in the run-up to December 25th.

The rums also taste fantastic now, so we strained the fruit and spices and transferred the liqueur into their gift bottles. I think they’ll go down a treat, and would look lovely tied with a raffia bow.

We were then inspired by the book to make the best use possible of our leftover cranberries (the ones we hadn’t painted with nail varnish!) and make cranberry sauce. This was surprisingly easy and very tasty! We simply boiled the juice of a freshly squeezed clementine with 100 g of sugar and waited for it to turn into syrup, before adding the remaining cranberries. They soon began to burst, turning the mixture into a lovely, sweet, thick sauce, which we enjoyed over a delightful roast dinner! The sauce lasts for a good few days, so we have volunteered to make another batch next week for our families to enjoy on Christmas day.

Merry Christmas everyone!

As Christmas is rapidly approaching, we decided to take a leaf (or a pine cone!) out of one of our own books, Eat, Drink and Be Merry and make some personalised Christmas presents. First up was the pot pourri; this was double the fun as we got to go for a lovely walk across Petworth Park to pick up the pine cones, conkers and other woody bits we were going to use to make the bulk of the present.

We came back with quite a variety of woodland foraged goods…

Then we had loads of fun drying it out in the oven (slowly!) along with slices of orange and pomegranate – this filled the kitchen with a delicious smell!

We also painted cranberries with nail varnish, and sprayed our woodland bits and pieces gold to use as decoration – a slightly painstaking process, but they look beautiful!

And here’s the pot pourri after it’s been dried out. Doesn’t it look beautiful?

All that’s left to do now is to soak the pot pourri ingredients in lovely Christmassy essential oils, bag it up in snowy cellophane and tie it up with some red ribbon, et voila! Christmas gifts for everyone.

We will finish it this weekend so check back early next week to see the final finished result and to see how you too can make your own with an exclusive excerpt from our book ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry’

We also went for some of the home-made liqueur. Debbie had bought some lovely glass bottles from a charity shop so we used chopped fruits and spices (strawberry and kiwi in one; cinnamon, cranberries and lime in the other) to infuse rum – it tastes delicious already after only 24 hours!