Beer & Book Review: The “Vierka” Wine Book, English Version, Friedrich Sauer KG Stuttgart, 1960s

I came across this book, really pamphlet, with a larger stack of beer books I bought from an older gentleman from in New Jersey. The book appears to be a publication by a yeast manufacture (Vierka). While I was unable to find their yeast in any of the major online homebrew websites upon further research the brand can be found if you do some deep looking. The opening chapter implies that this printing was smuggled out of the east zone. This was what East Germany was referred to as in the post war period. The book is written just as you would expect something you would expect from a yeast manufacture. The information was correct even though it was printed over 60 years ago. This was published during a time when homebrewing beer and wine was illegal in the United States. During prohibition a product called Grape Bricks were sold with instruction of what not to do with their product. If these instructions were not followed wine could potentially be created. This backhanded directions to brewing wine were a way homebrewers could get around the prohibition. I would imagine that this publication was listed near these bricks.

What I liked about the book: The recipe chart on page 15 and 16 was definitely my favorite part of this book. The chart gives the ingredients for 18 wines to include pounds of fruit/malt, sugar additions, nutrients, citric acid, and water. The chart also gives what the expected alcohol content, specific gravity and type of wine for each recipe. It took a moment to stare at the chart to understand, but once you figure out the simple legend it is interesting that so many recipes can be captured on a two page chart.

What I didn’t like about the book: Yeast from Vierka was hard to find on the internet. Throughout the pamphlet several yeast strains are mentioned but there is no description on what they could be like and because of that it is nearly impossible to determine what would be a suitable modern replacement for the yeast varieties. The section on water composition was very lacking on its depth. Essentially it stated that as long as there was no evil smell, poor taste, and was clear it should be good to brew with.

Will it stay on my shelf: It will. I will probably never open it again or even make a recipe from the chart. It was an entertaining read and would be a nice conversation starter for any other home brewer that comes looking over my bookshelf. I would consider using the recipe chart as a template for other beer recipes.

Would I recommend this book for your library: I would not seek out this book. The novelty of this book is nice, but I really only read this because it was already on my shelf.

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