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Archive for the 'books' Category

The Immeasurable Pleasure of Reading Books

Saturday, August 15th, 2020

There is something special about getting back into reading good old dead tree style books again. Over the last year or two I’ve been reading a couple of fiction novels every month and I like to have a non-fiction book on the go at the same time just to keep my mind in the real world. I’m not saying you need to read books… but you might find it’s more enjoyable than when you were younger.

My reading history was pretty sparse before my very late teens. Whatever the school curriculum put in my lap was about the limit of my experience – The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Rusty, Pygmalion, Lord of the Flies. I read a couple of non-fiction books about the sinking of the Bismark and the life of the gangster Joey Gallo just after high school and then a really good trashy pulp fiction sci-fi called Jack of Shadows (and I still recommend that one).

In my 20s I read at least three or four and sometimes five books a week – thrillers, horror, adventure, fantasy. I read broadly, including Oriental mysticism and books like the Carlos Castaneda series about his alleged apprenticeship with the sorcerer Don Juan. I’d hang on the equally dubious Tuesday Lobsang Rampa books reading them in correct order. I read about mercenaries and politics and history. It was a time in my life where I had all the time in the World for reading any sort of book the public library could offer. And I appreciate the depth of conversation that I can have today partly because of all that reading.

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Brew Like a Monk (Book Review)

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

Brew Like a Monk cover

The last year has opened my eyes to the landscape of Trappist and Abbey Ales. And, as any home brewer will confess, the interest in a certain beer category has had a way of sneaking down to my basement and into the fermenters. My interest with Belgian yeast strains is in the pursuit of a complexity of flavour in the beer that I produce. Currently I have a WLP500 Monestary Ale Yeast fermented Imperial Stout ready to be bottle conditioned and another Imperial Stout fermented with WLP575 Belgian Style Ale Yeast Blend that got bottled with a small amount of Brettanomyces bruxellensis and claussenii late last week. I also have two small fermenters of a Cinnamon Cyser fermented with a blend of the WLP500 and WLP575 in one, and good old Lalvin ICV D47 in the other. Next week I’ll be making a Rhubarb Short Mead with the WLP575 at a temperature rising to around 27 Celcius. That will be interesting.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading Brew Like a Monk: Trappist, Abbey, and Strong Belgian Ales and How To Brew Them by Stan Hieronymus and collecting a few Belgian beers along the way to get an idea of where my flavour intentions are headed.

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Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation (Book Review)

Friday, May 29th, 2020

Yeast by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff

I’ve come to realise over the years that my core pursuit is farming yeast. The by-product of being a better farmer is a beautiful beer. So, I agree wholeheartedly with the statement that brewers make wort and yeast make beer. I’m not sure if anyone who makes wort and ferments that wort into beer (at least if you want to really make great beer) would disagree. Yeast are complicated organisms when it comes to making beer, every beer is really a chemical experiment in the fermenter; and if you don’t understand the creature you’re farming, then you won’t achieve ideal results. So the better brewers read and study because the more you implement that science and experimentation in your farming of yeast, the greater the improvement to your final beer. I would add that I’m now making beers, in many cases, equal to those I would purchase from craft breweries, sometimes better. Almost certainly, fresher.

This is exactly the reason you may want to read Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff. At a bare minimum the reading of this book improved three significant misunderstandings or bad practices that affect the beer that I pour. And yes, it’s a dry read if you don’t like science. But, then, if you don’t like science you probably aren’t that interested in making the perfect beer.

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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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