Sunday, 21 June 2015

Need More Input Part 4...

Experimental Homebrewing - Drew Beechum and Denny Conn
Ever since reading Randy Mosher’s superbly influential Radical Brewing I had been desperately seeking another book to fill the void it had left behind. I thought his next book, Mastering Homebrew, might have been the right fit, but it looked to be more of a catch-all homebrewers guide than a follow-up. Thankfully, I caught wind of Experimental Brewing from listening to a Beersmith podcast in which both authors featured - it sounded absolutely ideal! Forgoing the usual beginner-to-novice route most homebrew books take, this book delves into, as the title would suggest, the more experimental side of brewing, or ‘ways you can deviate from the norm’ as they put it. This is really a book aimed at people who can already brew, but are interested in ideas and techniques that may improve their skills. Obviously with the authors being American it’s all ounces this, gallons that, so you’ll need a conversion calculator to hand if you want to tackle any of the recipes. It’s written in a light hearted, easy-to-read manner, much like Radical Brewing.

Brew Britannia - Boak and Bailey
I’ve veered off my normal brewing reading track with this one, but the book's subject matter was too interesting to bypass, especially considering the authors. Written by the folk behind the popular and entertaining beer blog, Boak and Bailey, this book chronicles the rise and fall and rise again of the British beer industry. Unfortunately, and I know I’ll be in a minority here, I found the flow of the book a bit awkward, making it a real chore to digest at times. You’re bombarded with so many figures, dates and people that if you’re not concentrating you just end up losing the plot, and their overuse of apostrophes became ‘nearly’ as annoying that someone ‘doing’ actual ‘air’ quotations in ‘your’ face. It’s not all bad though, the latter chapters I found quite compelling, about the origins of today's superstar breweries, such as Thornbridge, Magic Rock and Brewdog.

Mikkeller’s Book of Beer - Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Pernille Pang
I was totally unaware of this book’s existence until someone randomly tweeted about it. 30 seconds later I had slapped down some readies for pre-order. Currently ranked in the top three breweries in the world according to Ratebeer, a book about Mikkeller was always going to be an insta-buy. Unfortunately, it feels a bit light on content, seemingly packed with more images than words. There are some glistening gems of information in there such as the recipes for some of Mikkeller's famed brews, plus a bit of backstory of the once gypsy brewery. Make no mistake, it was a seriously decent read, I just wished there was more of it! Given their sibling rivalry, I wonder how long it’ll take until we see an Evil Twin book?

IPA - Mitch Steele
For the life of me I don’t know why I haven’t picked up this book earlier, I’m absolutely kicking myself! The labour of love that has gone into this book is apparent from the off. Mitch has travelled the globe, talking to anyone and everyone, reading through numerous archives, to glean as much info as possible on the title subject matter. The result is the most comprehensive book you’ll find on the history of India Pale Ales. Mitch is a true star in the brewing world and the work he does at Stone highlights he is a brewer to sit up and take note of, especially when it comes to the subject of IPAs. As always you’ll find a slew of recipes from renowned American breweries in the back, along with some more historical recipes reworked for modern brewing methods. A definite must-read.

Oxford Companion of Beer - Edited by Garrett Oliver
Edited by Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, this encyclopedic tome covers almost everything you would want to know about beer and brewing. It’s not something you would typically read, but thumb through at random or pick up when required. Having not cross-checked each section, it’s difficult to rate it’s accuracy, but for the most part it seems pretty well researched. However, there are some reviews on Amazon that point out numerous inaccuracies which I’d imagine would be corrected in subsequent editions. It is certainly a great addition to my growing brew library and one I can imagine will come in useful at some point.