Prior to moving to Japan I collected a solid library’s worth of old and new beer books. The thought was that it would be harder to get brewing books overseas, but I still wanted to learn. I plan to read through them all and provide my thoughts about the book, what I liked, disliked, and if I will keep the book on my shelf.
The Brewers Companion was born out of a collection of documents and table Randy Mosher had collected as a homebrewer. In the 1980s there was not the information about homebrewing readily available. When this book was first published there was not a fraction of the homebrewing resources and equipment suppliers available. For a reference Stone Brewing Company would open for another three years in 1996. I have the 1995 edition and Randy made revisions until 2000. In 2008 the book went out of print. Fortunately for all of us many of the more useful information found it’s way into one of his later books.
What I liked: the writing was not dry like a textbook. The worksheets provided are comprehensive and something I will definitely use. I enjoyed the writing on roasting your own malts. This I see will become more important as shipping cost increase. Going along the same lines as grains, the chapter on equipment provides some great ideas if you need to create your own brewing equipment. The foundational information on off-flavors and mash rest have not changed. Anyone who studies these charts will have the foundational understanding of the reasons for the flavors they are tasting in their beers.
What I disliked: Information on hops is outdated. Hop farmers have developed several cultivars that did not exist when this book was published. The same can be said regarding the information about yeast availability and home brewing equipment. New hop varieties that provide higher alpha acids for brewers are available to provide new flavors and aromas. Also several companies now manufacture equipment to enchanted the brewing capability of the home brewer. In the back of the book there was an add for two wheel charts. The Amazing Beer Wheel and Hop Go Round. Unfortunately when I reached out to the publisher these two devices are no longer available. If anyone has one of these please let me know in the comments.
Will it stay on my shelf: Yes, because of the distance from brewing supply stores and the shipping cost I believe that this book is still relevant to me for roasting grains charts, worksheets and equipment scrounging recommendations.
Would I recommend it for your library: Maybe, if you are on a tight budget this book can be found for quite cheep. I got a used copy for five bucks. If you are willing to spend about fifteen bucks more I would recommend one of Randy Mosher’s later books, Mastering Homebrew. This book has several of the sections that I liked and also has updated information to address the parts I did not like about Brewers Companion.
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