Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance

I have to admit, just like The Brewer’s Apprentice: An Insider’s Guide to the Art and Craft of Beer Brewing, Taught by the Masters, this book is a visual delight to read. Either Greg Koch has a fantastic eye for design, or his co-authors do. Beautiful colour photos, creatively displayed. Greg is once again a pleasure to read as he details Stone Brewing Co.‘s rise during the explosive craft brewing boom in the mid 1990’s. Starting any business has it’s risks and fair share of setbacks, but Stone persevered and shows, that good beer is good beer. Well, that, and a few crafty names and logos to help along the way. Stone brews what they like to drink, and if you don’t like it, they don’t really care. That may sound pretty arrogant (think Arrogant Bastard Ale) but they’re just pointing out that they have no intention of supporting the lowest common denominator beer drinker who puts back gallons of “tasteless bubbly yellow fizz”. Stone is built on brewing big. Hops are not just an ingredient, they’re a necessity.

The book takes you through history of the brewery and the people that made it possible. It chronicles all the special release beers and collaboration brews it has done. It also give us a scaled down recipes of their famous ales for us to try at home. Replete with food parings and recipes from the Stone World Bistro and Gardens, (which of course, all include beer!) this is a beautiful book and another great addition to your brewing library.

Find the book on Amazon: The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance

Hoptomological rating:

Cheers!

The Brewer’s Apprentice: An Insider’s Guide to the Art and Craft of Beer Brewing, Taught by the Masters

Stacked beside my bed and on the floor is always a pile of brewing books. Before I doze off into la-la land, I like to think of all the changes and improvements I’m going to make on my system and process as well as all the beers I want to brew.

Every time I read one of them, whether it’s the first time, or the tenth time, I usually find some useful information to apply or experiment with.

In my last shipment from Amazon.ca, I picked up 4 books. I wasn’t sure what I was going to start with, but The Brewer’s Apprentice: An Insider’s Guide to the Art and Craft of Beer Brewing, Taught by the Masters caught my eye right away.

I’m actually surprised that there is a book like this out there. I guess I’m assuming that brewing books are going to be old, rustic sources of information without much thought for design and layout. This book is modern, up to date, glossy and very fun to read. It’s well designed with beautiful photos. Co-authors Greg Koch (co-founder of Stone Brewing Co.,) and Matt Allyn’s enthusiasm and passion for brewing clearly shine through. Greg willingly shares his thoughts on brewing and brewing techniques, even his favourite hop combinations. Stone Brewing has built themselves by making bold beers, never being afraid of adding insane amounts of whatever moves them.

In the spirit of community that permeates the craft brewing industry, Greg take us around the U.S talking with some of the icons of craft brewing. Brewers like Ken Grossman from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River Brewing Co., Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales and many others. Each share their unique view and perspective, once again proving there are as many ways to brew as there are brewers.

This book is a joyful read and will help you brew a better Pale Ale as much as it will help you to try your hand at making a lambic.

Well worth the read, Hoptomological Rating:

Find it on Amazon.ca – The Brewer’s Apprentice: An Insider’s Guide to the Art and Craft of Beer Brewing, Taught by the Masters

Cheers!

 

Brewing Better Beer by Gordon Strong

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…