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Archive for the 'books' Category

Historical Brewing Techniques (Book Review)

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Historical Brewing Techniques by Lars Marius Garshol

About twelve months ago a brewing book was released by Brewers Publications called Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing by Lars Marius Garshol. In fact, I’d call this an extremely well referenced text book that could be used to teach the subject in a University environment. Lars spent many years travelling and investigating this subject with the help of archives, translators and the friendliness of farmhouse brewers in Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Denmark and Finland. This isn’t just a book about Norwegian kviek yeast, although along the way Lars almost single handedly brought that yeast back from the edge of oblivion to become a home brewing obsession; it’s about a much broader subject – farmhouse brewing traditions across Europe.

What I found most interesting and inspiring about Historical Brewing Techniques were the wide array of solutions created by farmhouse brewers in the past. Some people threw hot rocks into the mash or the boil; some boiled their mash; some mashed in the oven making loaves of grist; others never boiled at all. The same goes for using hops: into the mash, into the boil, boiled in water (or wort) alongside the mash or boil. It’s a horrible saying, but there are many ways to skin a cat and there seems to be nothing more true in this regard than the history of brewing.

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A Natural History of Beer (Book Review)

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

A Natural History of Beer book cover

One of the most interesting books that I’ve read about beer in the last few years has been A Natural History of Beer by Rob DeSalle and Ian Tattersall. Rob DeSalle is a curator at the American Museum of Natural History’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Biology and its program for microbial research and Ian Tattersall is curator emeritus, AMNH Division of Anthropology. A small 256 page hardcover published in 2019 by Yale University Press. The authors draw on a wide variety of academic disciplines to discuss the history, science, sociology and physiology of beer.

I’ve been meaning to get around to reading this particular book for most of the last year. And I’m a little hard pressed to find the words to describe this one because I’m not a fan of book reviews that merely repeat content. No, I’m going to have to tell you how it is. There was a lot of information packed into the pages of this enjoyable, if challenging, read. This wasn’t a breeze of a read, but I found it a lovely book that sat on our coffee table for a month while I whittled away at the content.

This is an almost textbook discussion about biology and chemistry for the most part. And anthropology, archeology, sociology, history, law and culture. The story of beer reaches from the ancient world through to modern times; it touches our lives socially and culturally (and probably always has performed that role); beer makes us jump for joy and cry with unfettered release; it allows respite from the complexity of that burden that humans carry – the ability to predict the future consequences of our actions and the awareness of our mortality.

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Homebrew All-Stars (Book Review)

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

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.

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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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