Historical Brewing Techniques:
The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing
Lars Marius Garshol
Norwegian software engineer, traveler, amateur photographer and beer enthusiast Lars Marius Garshol lives outside of Oslo and has spent over five years scouring Scandinavia, Finland, Europe and Western Russia to dig up traditional farmhouse brewing techniques. Garshol has devoured the literature on farmhouse brewing, hunted down traditional brewers, brewed beer with them using their raw materials and equipment, talked with their friends and neighbors, and has preserved and documented brewing styles and practices that may very well be lost after this generation. He captures his experiences in Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing, the best book on beer, beer history and brewing that I have read in a long time. Garshol defines farmhouse ale as beer brewed by traditional techniques using traditional materials. He tells us about the different styles - raw ales, dark smoky ales, brown boiled beers, oven beers, and fermented mashes. He digs up as much of the history of farmhouse ale as can be known - much of it involves oral traditions passed down though the generations and Garshol meets with, brews with and talks with many of these people. Garshol covers the ingredients - yeasts, malt, and adjuncts - and discusses the qualities of the ingredients and their treatment that make the different varieties of farmhouse ale special. He discusses the types of equipment used and how that impacts the beer. He also presents the different processes used and talks about how these different processes also change the final product. We learn about beer in farm life. He gives us 80 pages of recipes with enough information to give an average home brewer enough courage to take a stab at least a few of them. Garshol concludes with a section on where farmhouse ale is today and where it might go in the future. Both professional and home brewers will find Garshol's book fascinating for the traditional techniques that his book preserves and he gives brewers ideas for ways of handling ingredients based on traditional methods. The beer enthusiast will love Garshol's book for his discussion of these traditional styles of beer. His descriptions of the people he meets in the process breathes life into the book and keeps it from being a dry, technical manual. If you like beer, buy this book.
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