Dave Miller’s Brew like a Pro 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. I appreciate the single focused approach, this is the way Dave brews, and how he brews consistent beer. I feel the author eschews some common homebrewing methods like batch sparging, extract or dme, and the use of star san, choosing more complex methods, such as using a pump, a grant, a cold liquor back, and more complex sanitizer. While I feel Dave really has a grasp of how to make quality beer, I don’t understand some of the trade offs, the complexity, and then some of the short cuts. For example, He recommends building a bulkhead, but it requires costuming fitting. Why not just go to bargain fittings and buy a pre made bulkhead and call it a day. Then when it comes to yeast, the recommendation to direct pitch dry yeast, just seems lazy. While liquid yeast, yeast starters, and propagation are covered, fermentation temperature control for ales is completely overlooked. The biggest sin, however is the Kolsh style beer recipe, rather than explaining the fermentation nuances of the beer, the recipe defaults to using a non kolsh yeast strain. The project guide at the rear of the book help is helpful in completing those projects. However I think that many of those projects have been covered ad nauseum all over the internet.
I hate to sound negative about the book, I enjoyed reading it cover to cover. I just don’t personally agree with all of the methods detailed. I’m certain they work for the author, but I feel this is a book intended for a person who wants explicit methods on how they can brew all grain beer. Specific and detailed methods with instructions, and it does a good job of providing that information. It’s also provided me plenty of food for thought on many aspects of my processes, and methods. There are two tips I’m going to take away are that most kegs that are converted to keggles are of suspect origin, and should be treated as such. These things cost professional brewer far more than the deposit left for one. I’m not saying all kegs are stolen, but you should ask it’s origin before purchasing one. The next is that a fancy sculpture isn’t necessary, Dave has an advanced setup w/out the large infrastructure of a multi tiered brewing rig.
My summary is if you want to simply brew, and don’t care too much, get Joy of home brewing, if you want a detailed technical resource covering all aspects of brewing, get How to brew, if you want a concise set of brewing instructions, this might be the book for you.