William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill, Beer Craft: a Simple Guide to Making Great Beer, Rodale, 2011 review

Beer Craft: a Simple Guide to Making Great Beer

William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill

Beer CraftBeer writer and critic William Bostwick teams with designer and editor Jessi Rymill have written a guide on how to make craft beer. They start with a brief history of beer then spend a quarter of the book covering brewing steps and beer ingredients. Next they provide 10 recipes and a section on bonus steps such as specialty grains, spices and herbs, hops, sugars, barrel-aging and sour beers. A ten page chapter covers tasting and troubleshooting is followed by a section on designing and making labels and bottle caps. They conclude with a section on outfitting your brewery and record keeping. Peppered throughout are brief interviews with key craft brewers. The book is attractively designed and laid out but the print is small. Reading light blue pages with tiny dark blue text can be a problem trying to follow a recipe while making a batch of beer. The authors base recipes on one gallon all-grain batches which might be the way to go in a Brooklyn apartment, but frankly if I am going to all the trouble of brewing an all grain batch, I will brew a 5 to 10 gallon batch. To start out, I would recommend brewing with extracts. Some of their advice such as just using tap water is a little iffy, especially with all grain beers as is their advice on not using a yeast starter. There is also a lot of superfluous material while other sections such as the number of recipes or troubleshooting are too thin. If you live in a city apartment and don’t have much space, know a little bit about home brewing, this book might make sense. If not, try John Palmer’s How to Brew or Charlie Papazian’s classic The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.

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