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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephen Snyder is a contributor to America's largest beer newspaper, Ale Street News. He lives in Perkinsville, VT.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

An Introduction to Brewing

Your First Batch
As we discussed earlier, brewing from malt extract, especially malt extract syrup in a can, is how most of us began as homebrewers because it is the simplest, fastest, and most reliable way to make great beer. Using a simple malt extract-based recipe you will learn to make a terrific homebrewed beer with a classic American microbrewery taste that will be ready to drink in just three weeks. After you've tasted your first homebrew you'll quickly gain the confidence to brew again and no doubt be fired with a zeal to brew and learn as much as you can. Brew a few batches of this or some of the simpler recipes to follow, then branch out into some of the other styles. You'll be surprised at how fun this turns out to be and perhaps a little nervous about how enthusiastic you get about your new hobby. Don't be alarmed, you're just feeling the excitement that has captivated brewers for at least ten thousand years

Equipment You Will Need
Below are the essential pieces of equipment needed for homebrewing. Most of these common items you already have around your kitchen and can be employed in your brewery. However, it is a good practice to either buy new equipment or to relegate utensils you have to the exclusive use of your brewery. Keeping the things you use in brewing away from everyday kitchen duty will help keep them clean, grease-free, easily sanitized, and in good shape for years to come. Items specifically intended for brewing such as a bottling bucket or a hydrometer should be purchased from a homebrew supply store. There are over one thousand of these stores in the United States, and they can provide complete setups for beginning brewers, usually for much less than if you bought the pieces separately. A list of several good home-brew supply shops can be found beginning on page 357.

Brewing Equipment You Will Need
One large brew kettle. This will be used to boil the wort (it's not beer until it is fermented) and should be a twenty- to thirty-two-quart stockpot made of stainless steel or enamel. This needs to be physically clean but does not need to be sanitized, since you will be boiling in it for an hour.
Two hop bags. These will hold your two portions of hops in the boiling. They can be nylon or muslin bags purchased from a homebrew supply shop or simply pieces of cheesecloth tied around the hops with a piece of twine.
Sanitizing solution. In a new plastic bucket, prepare several gallons of sanitizing solution according to the instructions for the product you have chosen, or simply mix five teaspoons of bleach and five gallons of cold water in your primary fermenter. It is helpful to reserve a few pints of this solution in a measuring cup or glass jar in case you need to resanitize equipment sometime during the brewing process.
One primary fermenter with lid. Homebrewers have used everything from stockpots to plastic garbage pails to ferment their beer over the years, but I would recommend purchasing a new, 6.5-7.5-gallon "food-grade" plastic fermenter or a 6-gallon glass carboy. Although food-grade plastic, unlike glass, is porous enough to allow air to enter the beer over an extended time, it is significantly cheaper and can confidently be used for the short period needed for a primary ferment. If you do use a carboy, make sure there is plenty of "head space," the open area above the beer, to allow for the foaming that occurs during fermentation.
Airlock. These come in a variety of designs, but all are basically one-way valves created when you add a little water. Airlocks allow the escape of CO2 from the fermenter but don't allow airborne beer-spoiling microorganisms to enter from the outside.
Floating thermometer. You will use this to read the temperature of your wort when you take your specific gravity readings. This can be any type of immersible thermometer for kitchen use such as a candy thermometer but should be able to read temperatures between 60* and 212*F.
Hydrometer. These are often called "triple-scale" hydrometers because they have three different scales of measurement on them. One is to measure liquid density with the specific gravity scale; one is to measure the percentage of sugar in the solution with the Balling scale; and the third is calibrated to measure the potential alcohol that will exist in your beer. The hydrometer is one item that you will probably not have lying around the house and will need to purchase from a homebrew supply shop. Your hydrometer is most likely set to measure accurately at 60*F. By measuring the wort temperature with your floating thermometer and adjusting for temperature variances from 60* using the chart on page 354, you will be able to measure the original gravity and eventually how strong your beer will be.
Two long-handled spoons. A long wooden spoon is ideal for stirring your boiling wort; a long plastic or stainless-steel spoon that can be easily sanitized is ideal for stirring in your yeast and aerating the wort after it is cooled.
Two measuring cups. These are always handy to have around to hold spoons, thermometers, and various brewing gadgets. One will be used later to draw a sample of your wort for testing.
One egg timer. This will be used to time your boil and the addition of your hops.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; 1st edition (May 9, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060952164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060952167
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Snyder, co-author of The New Solar Home and New Green Home Solutions, is marketing director for the renowned custom home builder, Bensonwood. He holds a degree in Radio, Television and Motion Picture communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has broad experience in communications, public affairs, and media relations. He also works as a freelance writer and has published The Brewmaster's Bible (HarperCollins), The Beer Companion (Simon & Schuster) and The Brewmaster's Recipe Manual.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book was exactly what I was looking for: a reference with a lot of recipes and descriptions of the different types of hops, malt, adjuncts, etc. Beer styles are presented in a table giving you an idea of what types of ingredients are used and options that are available. This is a handy quick reference if you want to "wing it" with a little bit of a safety net. Then, about half of the book is specific recipes of varying dificulty, also organized by style.

I gave this book four stars instead of 5 because on the back it says it's the only book you'll ever need. If you're just starting out, I disagree. There are a few chapter's on the basics, however, this book would have been a little confusing if I hadn't first read Papazian's Complete Joy of Homebrewing. The Complete Joy of Homebrewing will get you going. The Brewmaster's Bible will keep you going. If you're looking for a good reference, I highly recommend this book.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Keith F on May 21, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is somewhat misleading - if you're a beginner homebrewer, I don't necessarily suggest this book. I would suggest something more along the lines of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, as this book does not go into great detail of beginning steps.

However, it is an excellent reference for recipies. Not only does it have hundreds (I'm not sure how many) of actual recipies, it also has great description of each type of beer and approximate starting and ending specific gravities.

I am a beginner and use the recipies to decide what kind of beer to make next. So I do use this book before I go to the brewstore to pick up supplies everytime. All in all, it's a decent book.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By xian on January 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
I'd give it a 3 if the name weren't so terribly misleading. Since it is, I feel the need to highlight how very much it is *not* what it purports to be. There's some good information in here, as well as some great information. But in no way, shape or form is it "the bible" of homebrewing. That distinction still goes to Papazian's (admittedly somewhat outdated) Complete Joy of Homebrewing.

That said, I have some specific issues with this text -- even after reading user reviews here prior to getting it, I was still disappointed.

1. There are a few glaring technical errors. One recipe states, "Let a wyeast packet sit after smacking for 1 day for every month after the manufacturing date." No. Seriously, 5 days is *way* too long, and smack-packs should be fine for 6 months from manufacture date easily. This is just one example of garbage info thrown into the book. New brewers beware -- follow this bible at your own risk!

2. The author is neurotically nitpicky. This book is the *opposite* of Papazian's "Relax, have a homebrew". For example, most recipe boils are listed at 90-120 minutes. For those of us who just want *beer*, this is a tremendous waste of time and propane. There are plenty of other examples where he indicates to worry about something that, in my experience, really doesn't warrant more than passing attention. Again, new brewers beware -- Papazian is right, relax and have fun and ignore most of the warnings herein.

3. Being a bible-cum-recipe-book, this book has almost no all-grain recipes. I was *very* disappointed to find zero, count them, 0! all-grain recipes for porters or stouts.

I got this book used and for cheap, and I'm still disappointed. I was looking forward to a nifty reference, and I find it to be neither. It's misleading to a new brewer, and disappointed to an experienced brewer.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jamey Anderson on April 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
I own many of the standard brewing books, TNCJOHB, etc, but this is the one I always pick up for the answers. Hop profiles, yeast profiles and extensive style guides, not to mention the vast amount of recipes. This is truely my bible!
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By James C. Healy on November 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
An excellent reference. I haven't worked up to all-grain yet, but the wealth of information on yeasts, hops, styles, adjuncts, you name it, is golden! The recipes are, in my opinion, nearly useless as they seem to be culled from can labels and extract kits, have bad advice (as someone has already noted) that directly contradict Snyder's instructions, and often have bizarre or proprietary items in the list of ingredients. Marty Nachel's Dummies recipies are much better. Actually, the two books complement each other nicely.
Best part of the book: the table of style components. Very handy for constructing a recipe; grain, extracts, water, yeast. Fabulous!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Mann on November 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've read all the other brewing books, and though Papazain, and homebrewing for dummies may be easier reads, this is the only book that has a complete list of style characteristics, details on ingredients, and fairly complete instructions for more complex methods, such as decoction brewing. Yes, as one reviewer pointed out, much of the book comprises recipes, but the tables and lists are invaluable. I've been brewing for 15 years, and still refer to this book each time I make a new batch.

Even the "lame recipes" are useful to get an idea how people approach the different styles (I never duplicate these recipes, but they are useful for synthesizing one's own recipes).

This is the book for geeks and engineers. If you know what reverse polish is, then buy this book.
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