Homebrewing: Building Your Library
Knowledge is power and becoming a powerful brewer takes lots of knowledge. In this week’s homebrewing post, Building Your Library, I’m going to break down three books that I own and recommend that other homebrewers read and reference.
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing – Charlie Papazian. Considered by many people to be the ‘Homebrewers’ Bible’, this book is an absolute necessity. It begins by breaking down the basics of brewing science. Walking through the four main ingredients of beer (water, barley, hops and yeast) and the important roles that they play in the final product. The book discusses both extract and all grain brewing methods and walks the reader through the process of brewing your first batch with both techniques. Charlie Papazian does a great job of describing the brewing processes with analogies that brewers of all backgrounds can understand. If you’re looking for a quick n’ dirty homebrewing essential, this book is it.
How To Brew – John Palmer. How To Brew takes The Complete Joy of Homebrewing one step further. This book dances with the nerdy-ness that every homebrewer possesses. Getting a little more in-depth into the brewing science may be too much for the first time homebrewer, or even the most experienced one, but don’t get discouraged when the section on mashing grains seems like its taken directly from a your least favorite college biology textbook. The brilliant thing about this book is that when it gets technical, you can generally skip ahead and get the ClifNotes version at the end of the chapter. This book includes some great recipes for starters and is a wonderful compliment Papazian’s Bible.
Brewing Better Beer – Gordon Strong. Gordon Strong is the only three-time winner of the highly sought after National Homebrew Competition Ninkasi Award and serves as the president of the Beer Judge Certification Program. Winning the ‘Gold Medal’ of the homebrewing world three times and being in charge of the organization that rates and judges beers for all major worldly contests is quite the resume. This book is directed entirely differently than the previous two books. There is no discussion of how to brew beer. This book starts where the other two left off and assumes that your are an educated homebrewer and have mastered your equipment and are very comfortable making good beer. As the title suggests, this book is about making better beer. Gordon Strong shares many techniques that he has developed to impart certain desirable qualities in specific types of beers and common mishaps to avoid. If you’re looking for the best way to impart kettle caramelization without performing a difficult German decoction mash or looking for tips to perfect your next competition entry, this book is a must have.
I own all three of these books and reference all of them regularly when developing new recipes. These books are commonly available and can all be found through the Brewer’s Association website. Cheers to becoming a more knowledgable homebrewer, building your library and brewing better beer.