Beer & Book Review: Home Brewing Without Failures, H. E. Bravery

The book is written by Harold Edwin (more commonly H.E.) Bravery. After a good bit of digging I would not be surprised if this is a pen name for Noel Whitcomb. I make this assumption based on the forward written by Mr. Whitcomb in another Bravery brewing books, Home Wine Making Without Failures. In that forward Mr. Whitcomb describes being introduced to Bravery on a slow news day where he published a suggested brewing recipe on a whim. In the newspaper Independent obituary stated Mr Withcomb gained journalism notoriety by writing about a talking Jack Russell Terrier. So I do not completely believe everything he claims. Home Brewing Without Failures was written in 1965 only two years after Victorian era laws removed the need for a license to home brew. This was also thirteen years before homebrewing was legalized in America in 1978. The book has been out of publication for several years and inquiries to Crown Publishing about the authors information were met with a statement that they didn’t answer inquiries on out of print books. If anyone knows anything about Bravery please let me know in the comments. I have more books by him and can include what I learn in future post.

What I liked about the book: The authors seemingly continuous encouragement that not only is brewing natural but it does not have to be highly technical and complicated. He correctly explains that home and professional brewers do not make beer, we only create wort and yeast creates the beer. The book also describes how to make cider and mead. In the writing about cider Bravery described the his memories of cider by remembering his father home brewing the drink. Just like the demystifying beer brewing, the author takes a huge effort in reassuring the reader that they can brew cider and mead at home as well. He even goes so far to say that they may eventually be better than the type you can get in a bar. While not specifically saying so he implies heavily that homebrew possesses a special “terroir” that can only come from your kitchen.

What I didn’t like about the book: The recipes will make beer by definition because malted barley is used, but the amount of table sugar (sometimes over 50%) make a finished product more like alcohol and less like beer. Hop additions are never specified by type (East Kent Golding, Saaz, Chinook) and based upon the high amounts I would suspect that they are using homegrown hops that may or may not be dried. Steps to propagate yeast from a commercial brewery such as Schlitz or Budweiser. Leave a little in the bottle, add a quarter pint of water with an ounce of sugar plug the neck with a cotton ball and wait a day or a few hours for a pinch ready ammount of yeast for brewing. The explanation of how to create a clear cider may work but it also will most definitely make a mess.

The primed cider is put into bottles, the stoppers are screwed home and the bottles stood in a cardboard crate upside down. This allows for the yeast to settle on the stoppers of the bottles. A gentle twist from day to day will assist the yeast to slide down the necks so that when the renewed fermentation has ceased after about a week – longer in some cases- all the yeast has settled to about a quarter inch-thick deposit on the stoppers. The bottles are then held upside down over the sink, the stopper of each is given a twist in the open direction and then back again at once. This action allows the gas to squirt out the deposit.

Home Brewing Without Failures, page 108

While this may work in theory there is a huge chance that you will get cider all over the kitchen and you may end up loosing the entire bottle in the process. Luckily home filtration systems can be purchased at homebrew supply stores.

Will it stay on my shelf: This book falls into the category of if it is there don’t move it. I do not want to make the effort of listing and shipping this book to sell to someone else. Likewise I am not comfortable giving this book to another aspiring homebrewer because of the bad lessons they will take from these pages. I guess I would keep it if nothing else for a good chuckle on what not to do.

Would I recommend this book for your library: I would not seek out this book. Now if my grandfather who made his own wine before 1978 wanted to give this to me I would not scoff at his offer. I would happily accept the book and use it as an opportunity to ask how he brewed back then and show him my brewing set up. This may be the only real use for this book; to start a dialogue between generations.

One response to “Beer & Book Review: Home Brewing Without Failures, H. E. Bravery”

  1. […] to ferment and crest alcoholic beverages. I know this goes against my earlier book review of Homebrewing Without Failure, but Ancient Brews highlights fermentable ingredients other than table […]


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