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Homebrew All-Stars (Book Review)

Homebrew All-Stars cover

At Christmas I received a copy of Homebrew All-Stars by Drew Beechum and Denny Conn. Well, to be honest, I’d bought myself a copy of this book for Christmas (because I’m a big fan of their podcast Experimental Brewing) only to discover my other-half had bought me a copy as well. So I’ve read and am keeping her gift copy and have the extra good fortune to have one to pass onto somebody. That’s a win-win, I think. The first comment I’d like to make about Homebrew All-Stars is that it has extremely high production values from the copy and editing right down to the quality of paper stock and photography. Self-publishing authors should take note of this value from the customer perspective – quality professional publishing makes all the difference. This is a book that will pass on to another home brewer after I’m gone. Plus that copy I have to give away.

A quick flick through shows what a lovely coffee-table homebrewing book is all about. There isn’t any need to start in any specific place and it’s broken down into easily digestible pieces. Think of information design as the enzymatic action of the authors and editors breaking down complex sugars into simple sugars so you, the reader yeast, can consume the information.

If you’re a brewer that metaphor should make all the sense in the World. The team that produced this book chopped everything into four discrete sections: The Old-School Masters, The Scientists (and Process Nerds), The Wild Ones and The Recipe (and Ingredient) Innovators. Further enzymatic information distillation by author includes their brewing motto and philosophy, favourite beer, equipment, ingredients and yeast, with homebrewing tips. Each homebrewer also offers a perspective they have on an aspect of homebrewing followed by a couple their recipes.

Some of these names I knew from reading and listening to podcasts over the years. Others were new to me, like Mary Izett of the homebrewing podcast Fuhmentaboudit!; although the list of names includes Denny and Drew (obviously) along with Gordon Strong, John Palmer, the late Mike “Tasty” McDole from The Brewing Network, Marshall Schott from Brulosophy, Lars Marius Garshol, Martin Brungard, Gary Glass, Mike Tonsmeire… you get the idea. And I was surprised that I learned a few things along the way.

While my first flick through this book made it feel a bit like a brewing light book, that’s where I think this one stands out as an engaging, inspirational and educational coffee table read. It’s all that other stuff – the copy, editing, quality, photography I mentioned at the beginning of this article. This is an inspirational book – my next brew day is going to be a Cream Ale and I never make Cream Ale. I was also nostalgically called by the wild of Brettanomyces fermentations, something that a couple of years ago really rocked my boat. For example, Brettanomyces Claussenii in a Robust Porter fermented with WLP006 Bedford British Ale is pure gold, in my humble opinion. And what’s more exciting than spontaneous fermentation? It’s always been on my agenda. It’s even more on my agenda right now.

The brand of Drew and Denny shines through in this book, too. A lot of brewing authors could take note of that aspect of the publication. Quality, quality, quality. Quality content, quality presentation, quality representation. Professionalism writ large. A big hats off to these guys for tickling my homebrew itch. But an Elvis Sandwich Short Mead, No. Just go buy this book and take it for what it is… a lovely coffee table read.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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