Thursday, 3 April 2014

Need More Input Part 2...

The Homebrewers Guide to Vintage Beer - Ron Pattinson (Quarry Books)

This book is a bit of a strange one when you first set eyes on it. It’s a hardback, but the content inside is spiral-bound which I feel makes it appear a little cheap. Thankfully, the information printed on the pages is pure gold. 

The book’s author - Ron Patterson, is the blogger behind Shut Up About Barclay Perkins and is now regarded as a bit of a beer historian. The premise for this book was to unearth beer recipes from the bygone years by trawling through the dusty archives of numerous long-standing British breweries, giving us a glimpse of how some of the beer styles that we love and enjoy today have evolved over the last few hundred years. It was interesting to read how the ABV of certain styles changed as methods, ingredients, laws and even the drinker's tastes changed over the years.

The book covers the brewing methods and equipment used way back when and includes over 100 hundred recipes. Thankfully these recipes, whilst keeping as true to the original as possible, have been translated into modern brewing methods...I mean who has a slate Yorkshire square fermentation vessel in their garage nowadays? 

There's two recipes to a page with the bare bones of information you'd need to pull off the brew, which an experienced homebrewer should have no trouble executing. The book has even garnered a bit of attention from well known brewers such as De Molen and Pretty Things, who have expressed interest in brewing some of the ye olde beers that adorn it's pages, and even Kernel’s excellent Imperial Brown Stout London 1856 is based on a recipe in this very book. Even if you don’t attempt any of the recipes, the book is a seriously interesting read.

The Brewer's Apprentice - Greg Koch & Matt Allyn (Quarry Books)

In this book, Stone Brewery’s Greg Koch and beer geek Matt Allyn talk to various master brewers from all around the world, giving a great insight into how some of the more superlative examples of various beer styles are brewed. It also investigates various brewing methods that other homebrew books barely touch on, such as barrel aging, lambics, brewing with fruit and big beers. The brewing doesn’t just stop at beers, as there are even chapters about ciders and meads. I found the interviews to be very natural, as though you're actually chatting with these guys in the pub tapping them for their invaluable experience, and some of the tales are truly inspirational (Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada springs to mind). It’s a thoroughly good read, that lead me on to buying the next book…

The Craft of Stone Brewing Co. - Greg Koch & Steve Wagner (Ten Speed Press)

This book chronicles the history of Stone Brewing, from it's humble beginnings to the mega brewery it is today, all told from the perspective of the people involved. 

One thing that is evident throughout the whole book is Greg's, and all others involved in the brewery's success, unwillingness to budge on integrity and their vision. They had plenty of opportunities to make a quick buck, but they stuck to their guns and just continued down the path of making the great beers that they had a taste for until the rest of the world caught up with them. 

The book details how many of Stone's famed beers came into existence, which makes for an interesting read in itself, but there's loads more! It includes a beer and food tasting guide, recipes straight from the kitchen at Stone's World Bistro and even homebrew recipes of their own beers...a couple of which I've already earmarked for future brews. Bring it on! I was so inspired by this book that I went out and bought a bottle of Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, a black IPA which is currently rated 100/100 on RateBeer, which was as expected, superbly sublime!