Beer & Book Review: Beer Craft, William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill, 2011

I have no idea how this book ended up on my bookshelf. I don’t remember buying this book or receiving it as a gift. Before moving to Japan I bought several homebrewer’s libraries. It must have been one of the books in those collections. I have been pleasantly surprised with this book. This tiny six by five book is packed with everything you need to know to take raw grains and turn them into beer. This even goes in to labeling and brand development. While labeling and branding is not necessary for a good home brewed beer it shows the new homebrewer all the different aspects that people have explored in this hobby. There are definitely better books for individuals who are very passionate about brewing, but this book will provide enough information to get someone started.

What I liked about the book: The 6 inch by 5 inch size makes it very portable and easy to carry around with you have time. I really like how the book is written. The book is divided into sections that cover each step of the brewing process (mashing, boiling, cooling, fermenting and bottling). If you just read the first half of each section you will get enough information to successfully conduct that step. If you read the entire chapter you can get the exact details that more experienced brewers would know. An example of this would be the mashing step. The first half of the section covers that mashing should be done for 60 minutes the later half go into detail about the glucose conversion and the science behind the transformation. For this reason I believe that this book is best for new to homebrewing readers. The book also provides 10 recipies which would creat a gallon of beer each or between 8-10 bottles. I like the small batch size because the last thing a new homebrewer needs is messing something up and having to suffer through 5 gallons of poorly made beer. The book also contains 7 one page interviews with individuals in the brewing industry. These interviews are only answer four or five questions, but they address topics such as starting or what makes their brewery unique. This will provide more areas for the interested homebrewer to explore.

What I didn’t like about the book: The authors have their preference and this comes out in the writing. They are a fan of White Labs Yeast and Wyeast while disregarding dry yeast or other liquid yeast producers. This is not necessarily a bad thing. In New Jersey I lived down the street from the homebrew supply store Cask and Kettle and would regularly use liquid yeast in my recipes. Now that I live overseas and my beer ingredients take nearly a month to reach me I cannot use liquid yeast without it getting exploded to the heat even in the winter. There are several other brands such as Lallemand, Red Star, and SafAle. There are also several different styles such as Belgian, saison, and even Kveik. There were also several chapters on label development and brand development. While I understand some people enjoy creating a brand for their homebrew and designing labels it is not something I am interested in and it is not required to make a quality beer.

Will it stay on my shelf: No. While I think this book is good for the brand new brewer there are better books for me about brewing. I will hold on to this book to give to someone who expresses interest in wanting to brew. Because of its compact size and detailed information this would be the perfect gift to feed the interest of a new homebrewer. The next person that expresses an interest in homebrewing I am going to give this book to them. Having it stay on my shelf will not benefit my brewing and will keep a valuable resource from an emerging brewer.

Would I recommend this book for your library: If you are even slightly curious on if you could brew your own beer I would recommend this book. Like I said before there are better brewing books. These books may be too dry for someone who is mildly interested but Beer Craft is simple enough that a novice could read the book quickly and have enough information to successfully brew a beer. For someone who has been brewing for a while this book doesn’t have much to offer. If you already have and have read How to Brew John Palmer or The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian I would not recommend this book. If you aren’t interested in reading 300 pages of homebrewing books to see if you like to try the hobby I would recommend this book.

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