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Froth!: The Science of Beer Hardcover – May 6, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


Mark Denny’s beer book is different. Neither an 'ultra-technical account of the brewing process' nor a 'how-to plus a lot of recipes,' Froth! is a theoretical physicists exploration of the math and science behind the beer-brewing process. Packed with humor, history, and DIY enthusiasm, Denny shares with readers how he uses physics to home-brew his own beers that froth higher and taste better.

(Seed Magazine)

Froth! offers a delicious blend of history and science that will delight beer aficionados and science buffs everywhere.

(Book of the Month Club)

Accomplished home brewer and physicist Mark Denny has crafted a scientific yet extremely accessible, investigation of the physics and chemistry of beer.

(Beers of the World Magazine)

Froth! is a nice read, garnished with just the sort of wit I'd expect from a British-born beer aficionado. It will be especially useful to home brewers, as it explains step by step how to make the stuff yourself.

(Andy Coghlan New Scientist)

Froth! earns a solid 'A' for bringing science, brewing, and good writing together.


For a scientist, Denny's approach is delightfully down to earth... There's plenty for the beerophile in Froth!

(Vince Costanzo The Age)

Denny provides a scientifically sound and often witty investigation of the physics and chemistry of beer.

(Greg Rienzi JHU Gazette)

Beer is intriguing enough, but Denny's enjoyment of the subject adds to the fun.

(Stephanie Stone SpinSheet)

A lively yet scientific examination of the physics and chemistry of beer.

(Midwest Book Review)

Books about beer tend to be either purely descriptive or wholly scientific. Rarely does a book combine the two, much less with genuine wit and charm. Froth!... is the exception. It is a great joy to read and contains a wealth of information for a wide audience... Highly recommended.


Denny... keeps the book interesting with his light and informal writing style and a good sense of humor... Froth! is a perfect book for the home-brewing beer aficionado who is looking for more than 'Brewing 101' but less than a master’s degree in the subject.

(Megan Just Sacramento Book Review)

Anyone with an interest specifically in how traditional craft relates to science-based industry would also find Froth! an entertaining and illuminating case study.

(Joseph Schultz Technology and Culture)

If Mark Denny brews his brew as good as his wit, I'll be round to his house in a flash.

(Dr. Andy Alexander, University of Edinburgh)

About the Author

After earning a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Edinburgh University, Mark Denny pursued research at Oxford University from 1981 to 1984, then moved into a career in industry. He is the author of Ingenium: Five Machines That Changed the World; Blip, Ping, and Buzz: Making Sense of Radar and Sonar; and Float Your Boat! The Evolution and Science of Sailing, all of which are published by Johns Hopkins. Denny is now semi-retired and lives on Vancouver Island.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (May 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801891329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801891328
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,023,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Denny was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1953. He obtained a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Edinburgh University, Scotland, and spent twenty years working as a radar and sonar systems engineer in the aerospace industry. He began writing popular science books in 2005. "I was emailed one day, out of the blue, by the editor-in-chief at Johns Hopkins University Press who had read some of my papers, and who thought they would make an interesting popular science book. I haven't looked back--explaining science, in a way that non-scientists can appreciate, is what I do." Mark lives on Vancouver Island with his wife, Jane, and spents his time writing, birding, and homebrewing beer. More details about Mark's books can be found on his website:

Customer Reviews

And yet there's something appealing about the simplicity of the Denny Good Beer Test.
Lynn Hoffman, author:Radiation Days: A Comedy
This is such a good book on beer, I just may start homebrewing, as the author makes it sound fairly easy AND personally rewarding.
J. B Kraft
The book itself is funny, easy to read, and full of interesting tidbits, pictures and sidebars.
Edward J. Barton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By AlchemistGeorge VINE VOICE on July 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First, I'm a vines reviewer, so I got this copy free. Second, I'm a serious home brewer - and have a listmania list of recommended books. Third, I'm an engineer, so when I say "nerd" I mean "me and people just like me." I went to MIT. I'm a nerd.

This is a fun book for people who are nerds who'd like to know more about one of life's vital ingredients <smile>. The kind of person who reads Scientific American.

It does a pretty good job of explaining how beer is made, how those bubbles are formed and stratify, and gives a broad overview of the chemistry, thermodynamics and physics of beer. There are equations, and there are pages that have math on them - calculus even! But don't worry, the book is well enough written that you can enjoy it even if you don't "delight in the derivatives" - you can just skip that paragraph - I (mostly) did.

The author is a scientist (not an engineer), so most of the math in interesting, but not actually useful - the yeast population calculations (for example) don't really apply - the author points out that the real world is too complex - but its a lot more interesting than looking up a value on a table of approximations.

It is not a 'how to brew beer' book and I think that several books - like Palmer's - do a better job of explaining to a layperson the science of beer making - conversion of grain into malt into long chain carbohydrates and the roles of alpha and beta amylase et. al, The author never tires of saying "the experts say to do this, but I don't" and you can feel every home brewer flinch each time they read those words. And there are some mistakes - nothing fatal. I think the author couldn't resist his remarks about contamination turning wort into saliva - which he must know aren't even vaguely true.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Zach Osterloh on May 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Froth! The Science of Beer" is an enjoyable book on some levels and is filled with interesting science that isn't overly daunting for a non-science and -math person like me. This recommendation must, however, be tempered by the out of date and in some cases, entirely incorrect information about homebrewing. Some of the instructions on how to brew your own beer, if followed, would result in nearly undrinkable homebrew. For instance, Denny writes that he uses tap water for brewing, there is nothing wrong with that, I use tap water myself in my brews. He states, though, that his tap water is chlorinated, a fatal flaw in homebrewing. Chlorine dissolves in wort during the mash and boil and creates chlorophenols, disgusting band-aid/medicinal flavors in beer (an off-flavor I have been unfortunate enough to taste on occasion). Either his water isn't actually chlorinated, or his beer can't taste very good.

Another example is his mash schedule explanation. After describing a schedule with five rests, he writes "It seems that the purpose of temperature-step infusion mashing is to reduce the possibility of haze in finished beer." This is true, but only in the most remote sense. Mash schedules were designed to take advantage of enzymes that work at different temperature in order to extract the maximum amount of fermentable sugars. Further, writing "It seems" makes Denny sound like he doesn't know if that is the true reason for the steps and he doesn't care if his explanation is correct or not.

Though I didn't expect the book to be a homebrewing manual, I would at least expect it not to be contradictory to every other brewing book I have read. Many of his techniques also seem wildly out of date.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bill Wikstrom on July 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Upon receiving Froth! I assumed it to be a coffee table book (not taking the subtitled "The Science of Beer" too literally). Well, Froth! is not a light coffee table book. It is, however, as light a book as seemingly academic as this is, can be. It approaches the mathematical and physical properties of beer in a very approachable way - with humor, basic practicality and history peppered throughout.

Anyone with an aversion to mathematical charts needn't worry as they're all concise and to the point but the meat of the book lies is in the actual text. You'll learn the actual differences between stout, ale and beer. And exactly why they taste differently. It discusses homebrewing but, if you are looking for a one-stop easy step-by-step homebrewing guide - this is not for you. However this does cover far more ground than homebrewing is concerned.

Most importantly, the book accomplishes the rarest of things: it educates while it simultaneously entertains.

All in all: very recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Fabbri VINE VOICE on July 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I enjoyed reading Froth--but it is not exactly what I expected. I was hoping this would be a book that would expand my brewing knowledge in a way that would make me a better home brewer. While I did find some brewing science in this book useful--such as the treatment of yeast pitching rates and thermodynamics, this book ended up being more of an entertainment value than a text to help with my brewing.

The author is a physicist who has a fun, dry sense of humor and an insane love of footnotes. Physics is less applicable to brewing than, say, biochemistry IMHO, so we end up reading about fluid flow models, bubble physics, and brewery distribution logistics instead of, say, the lifecycle of the yeast organism.

In summary, Froth is a fun, quick read that is an intersection between mathematics, physics, humor, and brewing trivia. I appreciate being able to read a fun book about beer that gives me the option of brushing up on some calculus I haven't used since college. (Note the treatment of calculus is designed to be easily skipped by those not interested--he gives a plain English description of the models and leaves the details to an appendix).

If this sounds like a fun read to you I think you'll enjoy it.

I give it less than five stars for three reasons: 1. I'm picky about giving out 5 stars. 2. I wanted this book to make me a better brewer, and 3. the humor can be a little hit-or-miss.
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