From the opening page, you quickly realize that Brewing Better Beer: Master Lessons for Advanced Homebrewers by Gordon Strong is not an ‘average’ book about brewing. The author makes this very clear. An aura is created that this is serious business. Not the kind of serious that’s dry and stuffy, but you know there will be no fooling around in this class. This is about beer after all.
You might think he’s being arrogant at first, but he’s not. It’s more like a “Zen and the Art of Brewing” mentality. “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” is the phrase that comes to mind for me. It is possible you may find this book is a bit pretentious, but is it really? Not if you’re interested. Is it overly scientific and boring? Thankfully no. Gordon prefers to approach brewing like a chef would his/her culinary creations. He urges you to strive to the point where you intuitively know how things should be working, being able to guide the brew session as you go. Knowing what grains go best together, what hops are appropriate. So much that you don’t have to think about the process, you just ‘feel’ it. This level of mastery comes after much experience, but if you’re serious about brewing, specifically, brewing better, then this book is for you.
It is important to know that this book is not a beginners book, or a ‘learn how to brew’ kind of book. There are plenty of decent examples of those out there that will get you understanding the basics. Gordon assumes that you have the proper equipment and know how to use it. Perhaps you’ve made a few extract batches and are eager to jump into all grain. (although it would be helpful to have a few all grain batches under your belt as Gordon talks at an advanced level.) Perhaps you’ve been brewing all grain for some time and want to find out where you might make improvements.
Whatever your level of experience, when you brew beer from grain, the landscape opens wide up. It’s exciting and fresh and filled with a world of possibilities. “Brewing Better Beer” will help you understand those possibilities. This book will definitely be sitting on the top shelf in my brewing library, right beside Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels…