SPENDING two months in a small car careering across America to research a book about beer turned colleagues Ben MacFarland and Tom Sandham into friends, and formed the basis for a writing and performing comedy duo.

Fresh from their seventh foray into the Fringe Festival at Edinburgh, The Thinking Drinkers, are currently on tour of the UK with their new show, History of Alcohol, and they will be stopping off in Swindon on Saturday, October 14.

Ben said: “The show is about how alcohol influenced everything, right from the monkeys coming down from the trees eating fruit fermenting on the forest floor, the beginning of Darwinism. We developed a genetic imperative to drink alcohol, it’s in our DNA.”

During the show the audience will be treated to a tasting of various alcoholic beverages to emphasise the duo’s mantra of: Drink less drink better!

“Its educational and fun,” said Ben, who won the award for British Beer Writer of the Year three times.

The Thinking Drinkers met as writing colleagues, working on The Publican magazine, when pub culture in this country was at its height. It was a time when people went to the pub to socialise as well as drink alcohol.

Ben was commissioned to write the Good Beer Guide West Coast USA but he soon realised the workload was immense, so naturally he invited his colleague out for a pint.

“We had to ask his fiancée first,” said Ben.

“We had some adventures, being chased out of a bar by Marines for performing Yellow Submarine karaoke and we filled the hire car with water instead of oil. But I am proud of the book.”

The guys came to comedy while using banter at various tastings and they honed their craft at the Edinburgh Fringe.

“A free drink with the show helped in Scotland,” said Ben. “It was in 2011 and we have never been on stage at all. Our first show was a freight container for a stage. We learned comedy through the unforgiving and relentless crowds.”

The Thinking Drinkers learned well, as their show was booked for the West End, the Museum of Comedy in a crypt in Sin Lane and it was commissioned for venues in Spain.

Along with their comedy, Ben and Tom are drinks columnists for various newspapers and magazines including The Daily Telegraph and Metro. They have appeared on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch and on other radio and TV programmes in support of their Drink Less Drink Better campaign.

Ben’s wife is a freelance video producer who has worked on such programmes as Thomas The Tank Engine so she understands the entertainment world and is very supportive of his show, despite the fact the couple have two children under three.

“Going away at weekends is not popular,” admitted Ben.

The dynamic duo are embarking on their 30-day tour up to Christmas and are currently working on a new book. They will be raising a glass at the Swindon Arts Centre, Devizes Road, Old Town from 8pm on Saturday October 14 and tickets are £16.50 from 01793 524481 or visit www.swindontheatres.co.uk.

— Flicky Harrison