Feb 29, 2012

For Further Reading...

I am sure you are just loving reading this blog.  You enjoy my topics, my writing style, my sense of humor... but, yet, you still want more.  You need more homebrewing knowledge.  This measly little blog just ain't cuttin' it!  Well, my friends, your prayers have been answered.  Today I am going to discuss some brewing books which helped me along the way and are some I think can help anyone who wants to learn to brew or create new recipes.

1.  How to Brew by John Palmer
My well-worn copy of How to Brew by John Palmer.
If you want to learn to brew (or brew better), this is the must-have, quintessential, no-nonsense guide to brewing.  Palmer takes the brewing process step by step, starting with extract and working his way up through all-grain brewing.  It is extremely helpful for the new brewer and is a great resource for the veteran.

A vast majority of the chapters are purely about brewing - mostly extract at the beginning, but he goes into all grain later.  Palmer gives an overview of the process for both extract and all-grain and then devotes an entire chapter to each step - from malt to sanitation to yeast and fermentation.  The chapters are helpful, practical, and easy to follow.

Later in the book, he goes into much more of the science of brewing with water profiles and mash pH.  There are many charts and appendices to help, including chapters on how to make your own mash tun and immersion chiller.  Palmer even provides some of his own recipes in both extract and all grain for you to try.

If you are looking for one book to buy, get this one, especially if you have never brewed before.

2.  Extreme Brewing by Sam Calagione
A book that got a lot of use in my early batches.
Sam Calagione is the owner of Dogfish Head Brewery.  You have probably seen (and hopefully tasted) many of his beers.  Sam is kind of a rockstar in the brewing world.  He makes good beer, has a fun personality, and is always trying new things.  He has written a few books, mostly about the business side of brewing, but this book is all about brewing.

While I did say this book is "all about brewing," I wouldn't use it as my guide to "how to brew."  (That, obviously is the first book above, "How to Brew.")  While Sam gives a brief overview, it is just that: brief.  Where this book shines is in the recipes.

It is geared toward extract brewers, but all grain brewers can gain inspiration.  Sam gives several Dogfishead recipes, like 60 Minute IPA and Indian Brown Ale.  Other well known brewers from across the country also give some of their recipes, too.  Along with clones of professional beers, there are also some originals, each with its own unique twists - from kiwi wheat to pumpkin stouts and a variety of crazy recipes in between.  If you need ideas, like some "off centered" beers, and are just starting out, this can make brewing pretty fun - at least more fun than buying a pre-made kit in a box.

3.  Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher
A fun book to flip through.
Radical Brewing is the most advanced of the books in this post.  There is very little hand-holding and unless you are familiar with the brewing process, this book may be over your head (at least at first).  Mosher gives many, many recipes in this book and all of them have a special flare.

Again, this is not a "how to brew" book, though there is a chapter that touches on the process.  This book is all about recipes.  Crazy recipes.  Radical recipes.

This is not a book to get if you want to brew standard, Beer Judge Certification Program styles of beer.  Spices, teas, sugars... all different ingredients to really expand your mind as to what can go into a beer.  It is fun to flip through to see what inspires you.  And this book can easily give inspiration to a boring ol' brew day.

So, there are a few of my favorite books, books which helped me get started in brewing and started me out right.  Nothing sucks more than doing something horribly wrong the first time or two to make you want to quit.  These books gave me a good overview of process and kept me experimenting with what a beer could be.  Now I know what chamomile tastes like in a beer.  I never would have known had I not read it and tried it.

So, best of luck to you.  If you have any books that really helped you out or are worth a read, let me know about it.