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Archive for the 'history' 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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Newton and the Counterfeiter (Book Review)

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

Newton and the Counterfeiter book cover

We all know the old Isaac Newton (1643-1727) story about the apple falling from the tree and his epiphany about gravity. Only it was more of a process over years to discover and prove the case for a mathematical explanation of the World, the Universe and all That. Newton, first and foremost, in his early 20s was at the forefront of mathematical thinking in Europe. He was, this book suggests, the greatest mathematician of his time. He authored the PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Latin for Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy). He sought to explain God into the Universe, but never did. A man of thought and philosophy, not of people. In his entire eight decades of existence only one other human being was sought, for a while, for human companionship. That was Isaac Newton. But what about after his mathematical elevation into history?

The Royal Mint. From 1696 Issac Newton became the Warden of the Royal Mint in the Tower of London, becoming Master of the Royal Mint in 1699. This book, Newton and the Counterfeiter by Thomas Levenson, is set in the time of Newton’s position as Warden of the Royal Mint and his quest to solve the clipping problem in England’s currency. Clipping was the practice of snipping small bits off the side of English coins that devalued their worth on a weight-for-value basis. This silver was remelted and made into fake currency. At this point the estimation was that around 10 per cent of England’s currency was fake.

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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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