How to Make Your Own Beer, Cider, Mead, Sake, Kombucha, and Other Fermented Beverages
Dan Crissman is a professional editor specializing in history, popular science, memoir, how-to and travel books. He is also a longtime home brewer and fermentation specialist. In Brewing Everything: How to Make Your Own Beer, Cider, Mead, Sake, Kombucha, and Other Fermented Beverages, Crissman pretty much covers every fermentable beverage enjoyed by humans. This is a book for the novice, less experienced brewer. He starts with a general chapter on brewing covering brewing gear and techniques. He provides simple, straightforward approaches for starters and then follows up with more difficult involved approaches. Each chapter address a beverage and adapts the brewing techniques for that beverage and then provides several simple and more complicated recipes. His simple recipes are typically 1 gallon batch sizes and his more complicated recipes are 5 gallons. In his introductory brewing chapter, Crissman lists a digital instant-read thermometer as optional pieces of equipment. They are actually essential. You can't mash or sparge beer without a thermometer, you should not pitch yeast without a thermometer and you should try to keep the temperature of the must or wort within the range required by the yeast. In brewing beer he recommends fermenting for two weeks and then racking and bottling. You want to do this when the wort or must reach the desired specific gravity and that my change depending on temperature and other fermentation conditions. In many of the chapters he provides tables for various ingredients such as yeast and hops without going into enough detail about when you would use these. Crissman might better serve his novice target audience by just telling them what yeast to use. In his chapter on ciders, Crissman does not spend enough time discussing getting the proper blend of apples in a cider or discussing the option of finding a local homebrew club that does group buys of apple juice. Crissman's chapter on mead does not spend enough time on yeast nutrients or the importance of aerating the must before pitching the yeast. He recommends bottling mead after two weeks when the mead will condition better in a lager, secondary fermenter. All of his mead recipes are carbonated when some of the best meads are still. Crissman has an interesting discussion on capturing wild yeast for mead. His sake recipes are more of a rice wine than a sake and he does not mention the grade of the rice which is essential for brewing various sake styles. These criticisms aside, Crissman does give the novice information for brewing a wide variety of beverages in a straight forward, non-intimidating way. You will end up with drinkable, if not perfect beverages. He writes and explains well and the book is well illustrated and laid out. If you are a novice or if you brew one of these beverages and want to take a stab at some of the others, this is a good place to start.
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