Beer & Book Review: Ancient Brews, Patrick E. McGovern, 2017

I have read many descriptions of Patrick McGovern. The one that I enjoy the most is of a beer version of Indiana Jones. While the theatrical imagery is great to have, I understand that Patrick McGovern is less leather jacket, fedora, and bullwhip and more scientific procedures to determine what is in the ancient vase. Academic research only gets you so far. For people to actually taste and perceive these ales there has to be a brewery as crazy enough to brew versions from the research. Thus began a partnership between Patrick McGovern and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery. Together they developed six recipes from McGovern’s research. Dogfish Head Brewery developed these recipes into a series of beers that was distributed across the country. McGovern compiled these recipes along with the history and a food pairing. Included in the book are the Dogfish Head Anchient Ales Series recipes for Midas Touch, Chateau Jiahu, Ta Henket, Kavsir, Theobrama, and Chicha. These recipes cover historical brewing from the Middle East, China, Europe, Nordic, to South America regions.

Why I liked this book: The biggest reason I like this book was for the recipe for the beer Theobroma. Of all the ancient ales series this one was my favorite. I have seen recipe list from message boards and other sources but to get it from the guy who developed it was too good of an offer to pass up. I also like the historical back story that accompany each beer. The back ground appeals to my history background from college. While there is no way to exactly tell what the beverages taste like but it was interesting to see how they came up with the ingredients list.

Why I didn’t like this book: All of the recipes (6) were for five gallon batches. I understand why this was done because most homebrewers make beer in 5 gallon batches. Even if the home brewer made these recipies exactly as they should there is no guarantee that the end product would be something that they enjoy. I would have liked to see a one gallon version, but also understand the amount of work and effort needed to create a recipe and make such a small batch.

Will this book stay on my shelf: Yes. I only made one of the six recipes (Theobroma) I will still hold on to the book. I currently do not have a desire to make any of the other recipes but that does not mean I may not in the future.

Would I recommend this book for your library: I would recommend this book to another home brewer to show that it does not have to be just malt, hops, water and yeast in beer. Cultures throughout time have utilized what was available to ferment and create alcoholic beverages. I know this goes against my earlier book review of Homebrewing Without Failure, but Ancient Brews highlights fermentable ingredients other than table sugar.

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