Book Review

Quick book review: Brewing Made Easy

This is a quick review of a really quick read. I like to check out any brewing book that crosses my path in the hopes of unearthing something new. I spotted this book, Brewing Mad Easy (2nd edition) by Joe Fisher and Dennis Fisher at my local library. It is a short book intend to ease you into home brewing. I think the format of quick easy steps to brewing is a good way to approach brewing. I have likened it to writing, putting down a first draft, before you can improve upon it. You have to get a beer into a fermentor before it makes sense to try to tackle more details in the brewing process. It’s a good approach. My gripe about the book, that they seemed to perpetuate some inaccuracys that I’d think would no longer be in a modern book, top vs bottom fermenting, the use of secondary. In addition, they really gloss over hop usage, late additions, etc. All in all if the book gets someone brewing beer it’s not bad. However for my money, I’d buy either the Complete Joy of Homebrewing, or How to Brew by John Palmer. If you are a detail oriented person, How to Brew, if you are a laid back, less detail driven person, Joy.

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With that said, the book is extremely approachable. I enjoyed my hour or two reading it, and appreciated the small section on small batches, which I feel like is a lost brewing practice. Beyond being a good quick start guide, I feel the book won’t get you much beyond your first few batches, where the other getting started books have much greater depth and value to them, while not being too complicated to lose you in the process.

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Review: Audacity of hops

Sorry, yet another book review, the good news is I am on track for my reading goal. The Audacity of hops is not my typical read, I usually read brewing focused books. This book is about the rise of craft beer in America (the craft beer movement if you will), from the resurrection of Anchor and creation of the New Albion brewery to todays meteoric growth. It includes the many ups and downs, and side tracks along the way. It focuses on the breweries, their founders, and their business stories. It doesn’t pay much attention to the accompanying industries and moguls, like Chris White, David Logsdon, or Roger Briess which provided necessary ingredients to make these breweries possible. This book is less about the brewing of beer and more about about the growth of an industry and the pitfalls of that rapid growth. It’s a sizable book, at 416 pages (I read it on the kindle), but a large percentage of it is citations, bibliography, and index, it’s less daunting than it initally appears. The story is told in a very loose narrative, which fits the information, but makes it less of a page turner. The chapters are concise, but the story wanders through these loosely aligned stories to give you the bigger picture. If you are looking for a general read about how many of the key players in craft beer got their start, and grew, this is a good place to start. There are more concise and definitive pieces on the formation and growth of specific brewers as told by the brewers themselves, Brewing up a Business – Dog Fish headBeer School – Brooklyn Brewing, and Beyond the Pale – Sierra Nevada to name a few.

Tom Ancitelli did a good job of capturing the larger picture of the growing market segment. As a craft enthusiast I enjoyed hearing some of the history that I’d never read before. I’m not old enough to remember the ‘contract’ controversy from Dateline, or remember the first craft shake out.  Learning Anchor’s Liberty Ale is a centennial focused IPA, I love the hop, but the beer is not even on my radar. (Must rectify that). A tasting room, which is now a fixture in modern small breweries, wasn’t a given back then. Learning how styles that Michael Jackson fomented, and Charlie Papazon’s BA solidified. Makes me realize that when you are doing something revolutionary in an industry you can’t look within, you need to look outside the norms to find an opportunity that others are overlooking. The book makes me also makes me want to read some of Jackson’s works to learn more about the styles as they were 20 years ago.

** These are links to Amazon. I do get a cut of any purchases made through my links. I’m a long time user, and they typically have the best prices on books.

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Review: Homebrewers Guide to Vintage Beers

I’m a bit of a beer/brewing book collector, I have a Library of twenty or so books, and my amazon wish list is sure to have a few brewing books on it. I have recipe books, basic brewing books, advanced technique books, scientific books, historical brewing books, books about starting a brewing businesses, the list goes on. I have so many unread, that I made a goal for 2014 not to purchase any more books until I’ve gotten through the backlog. Fortunately I preordered this book back in March of 2013 so it doesn’t count as failing against that goal. When this book finally arrived I did not expect to pick it up for some time, or do what I did, read it cover to cover in a week. Continue reading

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Book Review: Brew like a Pro by Dave Miller

This is one of the more recent additions to my brewing library.
I picked it up because I heard about the book on Beer sessions radio and I’m a sucker for brewing books, as my library can attest. This is an advanced how to brew book that’s focused on all grain. This is intended as a brewing book based on the author’s experience as a professional brewer. Continue reading

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Book Review: IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale AleBy Mitch Steele

This is a book I was looking forward to from the moment I heard about well over a year ago. Mitch Steele the head brewer at Stone brewing has been a guest on the brewing network quite a few times, and he also happens to be a member of Brew free or Die.
I’ve read the other two books published by Authors from Stone Brewing Company, so why would this be any different. The book has two main sections, the history of IPA to a vast collection of IPA recipes. Along the way manages to correct the myth of the origin of the name, and perhaps introducing a new one, alluding to brett in the original IPAs. There are lots of historic brewing statistics, to be honest, I mostly ignored them. Continue reading

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Book Review: Beer is Proof God Loves US. Charles W. Bamforth

Brewing Books

Brewing isn’t all boiling and fermenting, and cleaning. You can buy a kit at the store, but to get a real understanding of brewing, styles, and history, you have to read and research.The title is pretty much over the top; and so are many Dr. Bamforth’s stories. This isn’t a book about brewing, despite Dr Bamforth’s decades of experience and knowledge, it’s more the tale of a life long participant in the brewing industry, from both the in and outside perspective. Continue reading

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