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True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home Hardcover – May 14, 2013

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True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home + Kombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes for Homemade Brews, Fixers, Elixirs, and Mixers
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1St Edition edition (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607743388
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607743385
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Featured Recipe from True Brews Ginger Ale

Ginger Ale

Makes about 8 cups

  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger root
  • 1 cup water, plus more to fill the bottles
  • 9 tablespoons / 4 ounces white granulated sugar, plus more if needed
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons), plus more if needed
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon dry champagne yeast
  • Peel and finely grate the ginger (I use a Microplane). You should have about 2 tablespoons of grated ginger root.

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan on the stove top or in the microwave. Remove from the heat. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Add the ginger and let stand until cool. Stir in the lemon juice.

Pour the ginger water into a clean 2-liter bottle using a funnel. Do not strain out the ginger. Top off the bottle with water, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace. Give it a taste and add more lemon juice or sugar if desired. The extra sugar will dissolve on its own.

Add the yeast. Screw on the cap and shake the bottle to dissolve and distribute the yeast. Let the bottle sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight until carbonated, typically 12 to 48 hours, depending on the temperature of the room. Check the bottle periodically; when it feels rock solid with very little give, it’s ready.

Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 weeks. Open very slowly over a sink to release the pressure gradually and avoid bubble-ups. Pour the soda through a small fine-mesh strainer to catch the ginger as you pour.

Featured Recipe from True Brews Cloudy Cherry Sake

Makes 1 gallon

  • 1 1⁄2 pounds fresh or frozen sweet cherries
  • 1 gallon dechlorinated water (see page 14)
  • 1 Campden tablet
  • 10 cups / 5 pounds short-grain rice
  • 2 1⁄2 cups / 11⁄4 pounds koji rice (page 146, or see Resources, page 176)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon acid blend
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon pectic enzyme
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons (1/2 tube) liquid sake or lager yeast, or 2 teaspoons (1 packet) white wine yeast

Starting 24 hours before you plan to brew, sanitize a 2-gallon bucket, its lid, the air lock, and a spoon for stirring.

Pit and coarsely chop the cherries. Combine the cherries with the water in the bucket. Crush the Campden tablet and stir it in. Snap on the lid and attach the air lock. Wait 24 hours for the Campden to sterilize the cherries.

The next day, soak, steam, and cool rice as described on page 140. Add the steamed rice, koji rice, yeast nutrient, acid blend, pectic enzyme, and yeast to the bucket with the cherries. (If you are steaming your rice in batches, combine everything with the first batch and add the remaining rice to the fermenter as it is cooled and ready.) Stir vigorously to distribute the yeast and aerate the rice mash.

Snap on the lid and attach the air lock. Store the sake somewhere cool and dark, ideally around 55°F. You should see active fermentation as evidenced by bubbles in the air lock within 48 hours. Ferment the sake for 2 weeks, stirring daily with a sanitized spoon.

To finish the sake, sanitize a strainer, flour sack towel, stockpot, funnel, a 1-gallon jug, and its stopper.

First, pour the sake through the strainer into the stockpot. Discard all the rice and cherry solids. Set the funnel in the 1-gallon jug and line it with the flour sack towel. Strain the sake again, this time into the jug. Because of all the rice sediment, this can take a while. Stir the liquid in the funnel frequently to prevent the sediment from compacting and slowing down the straining. If the flour sack towel becomes clogged, rinse it out, sanitize it, and replace.

Clean the stockpot. Set the jug of sake, uncovered, inside the pot and fill the pot with water until the water is level with the surface of the sake. Set the pot over medium heat. Warm the sake to 140°F to pasteurize the sake and stop the koji and yeast activity (this does not affect the alcohol content). Allow the sake to cool.

To bottle the sake, sanitize ten 12-ounce bottles or six 22-ounce bottles (or five 750-milliliter wine bottles), their caps (or corks), the siphon hose, the racking cane, its tip, and the bottle filler. Shake the jug of sake to make sure the sediment is fully suspended in the sake during bottling. Siphon the sake into the bottles, shaking the jug again if the sediment begins to settle. Cap (or cork) the bottles and label.

Sake can be drunk immediately or aged for up to 1 year. Shake the bottles before serving and serve chilled.


“I dare you to get through the first chapter of True Brews without running to your kitchen to try a recipe. Emma Christensen demystifies the process of homebrewing with her clear, empowering, and enticing recipes, showing us the full brewing potential of even the smallest and most basic kitchens. Even more, her enthusiasm is entirely infectious—get this book into enough hands, and I predict a homebrewed revolution.”
—Alana Chernila, author of The Homemade Pantry
“Fermented beverages come in many varied forms, and True Brews explores a vast array of them. I applaud Emma Christensen for this user-friendly compendium of ancient wisdom, modern methods, and inventive flavor combinations. Invite microbes into your life via some of these lively brews. Become part of the fermentation revival!”
—Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation and Wild Fermentation
“I’ll confess: I was skeptical about brewing at home before picking up Emma Christensen’s True Brews. My skepticism was immediately quashed by this book, which like a shaken-up bottle of homebrewed soda, positively explodes with accessible techniques, enticing recipes, and best of all a clear, enthusiastic voice that guides you through the process. Thanks to this book, I can’t wait to start brewing and drinking my own beer, wine, and soda at home.”
—Adam Roberts, author of The Amateur Gourmet and Secrets of the Best Chefs
“Are you fed up with the homogenized commodity bev­erages that often dominate the shelves of your local retailers, devoid of flavor, texture, and personality, but bountiful in marketing campaign dollars? Then do yourself a favor and learn to make your own! Use quality ingredients to create flavors that you want to drink—with True Brews as your guide, it’s not so hard to do. Cheers!” 
—Greg Koch, CEO and cofounder of Stone Brewing Co. 

“Small-batch beverage-making encapsulated in a neat, easy-to-follow book. With 1-gallon introductory recipes and procedures making this all the more interesting (and fun), there are beverages for all tastes, ages, and circumstances. Health and refreshment be with you.”
—Charlie Papazian, author of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing

Customer Reviews

The recipes sound amazing and the instructions are easy to follow.
Kindle Customer
If you make kombucha, water kefir, milk kefir or soda this book is a great complement to other general information.
Cm Partin
If you really like brewing beer you will need to go beyond this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Pirate Jeni on June 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book primarily to make soda since I already make kefir at home and as far as kombucha goes.. I just can't with the SCOBY. It's too... gelatinous for me.
Anyway, the very first thing I did was to make the watermelon mint soda. WORTH IT. Oh My Gawd. I'm hooked.. some of these methods are too involved for me, like the sake, but I'm very interested in brewing mead and hard lemonade.

My favorite bit about this book is that everything is small batches. You get to dip your toe into brewing without a huge investment. My first batch of soda was made in the recommended washed out two liter bottle. Less than a dollar for champagne yeast, a watermelon and some mint from my garden and I was all set to make the best soda ever in the world.

Emma gives you a basic recipe/method for each thing to make.. a Master recipe, if you will. I'm already dreaming of the different kinds of soda I can make with this new information.

I'm also looking forward to making hard cider as soon as it's apple season.

UPDATE: 02/08/14:

Well, I have a SCOBY because someone sent me one... and let me tell you, it's totally awesome once you get past the "omg whut is this?" factor. I have made the blackberry sage kombucha and it's totally one of my favorites. I've also made the pear water kefir.. DELISH. I'm currently working on the Sweet Mulled Cider.. I'm adding the yeast tomorrow.. it'll be a long wait but it will be ready in October.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Cissa on September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very basic book on brewing a lot of different things. While we've brewed mead, beer, cider, and wine (not fruit wine), the clear recipes are handy even for these (except beer' we're pretty experienced with beer... although these recipes are for 100% mashed, and we've tended to use a mix of mash and extract).

One of the nicest things about these recipes is their small scale. If one does not know what one is doing, it helps not to be trying it in 5-gallon sizes! Even the 100% mash beer would be possible for us in a 1-2 gallon size, though it's unwieldy at 5+ gallons.

I am very interested in learning to make soda. I am also finding the kefir and kombucha fascinating, because I think I could use some more probiotics in my diet and these recipes look tasty. I'm also intrigued by the fruit wines, especially in the smaller quantities described here.

I've got some basic kefir started now, and am looking forward to exploring more of these very accessible brews.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By DiscipleofJMB on March 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased this book looking to expand upon my small-batch operations spurred on by the Brooklyn Brew Shop kits. I already had the supplies, I figured I'd try making other beers and other brews!

I had never heard of kefir or kombucha, and they seem weird so I'm unsure of whether I'll try those or not... So those are not mentioned in this review.

Soda: so far I have made the orange cream and cherry lime sodas. They were very easy to make and tasted great. Many people said the cherry lime one tasted like cherry pie in a bottle! I agree. Just make sure you let the soda carbonate fully before drinking! My first one came out a bit flat, which was my fault for rushing.

Beer: the Mocha Stout I made via this recipe has been pretty good. The book is VERY basic on the brewing process, and doesn't give you all the information you need to make GREAT beer. From my limited experience in making over half a dozen beers over the past 2 months, I have found that having a decent library of other brewing books and advice from experienced brewers will help you make a better product. When I first tasted the Mocha Stout, it had a strong sort of olive aroma, which I learned comes from the roasted malts. This will mellow with age, so I have put the rest of the batch in the fridge and will try it over the next several weeks/months to learn about the mellowing process. Overall, the recipes are ok but are very basic. If you really like brewing beer you will need to go beyond this book.

Cider: I am currently aging the Sweet Spiced Mulled Cider produced from the recipe in this book. It seems to be coming along well, as it's been aging a little over a month and was recently racked to its third fermentation stage to get it off the sediment.
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67 of 88 people found the following review helpful By E. Moriarty on April 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have never written a bad review for a book, but I'm starting now because I wish someone had warned me that this book is a waste of money and time for anyone who is sincerely interested in making authentic, fermented, living foods.

First, there is nothing inventive or particularly original in terms of recipe flair, but that wouldn't be a problem for me if the author offered good, basic recipes and instruction. Most of us like the opportunity to be creative ourselves, but want to know the ground rules and go from there. The problem is that the basic "master" recipes include artificial ingredients, synthetic sweeteners and processed flavors, etc. The root beer- which is authentically made with roots and herbs and naturally fermented- uses root beer flavor extract! She uses yeast as starters for the sodas, rather than wild fermentation, which is a shame. She also uses soda flavor syrups, as opposed to juices. These are recipes for people who are interested in fermentation and living foods, but come from a processed-food world and haven't been introduced to the real thing yet, so simply don't know better.

Also, tackling beer and mead and hard cider in a little book filled with more pretty pictures than information is a terrible idea. Anyone who tries making these trickier beverages is going to waste time and money and be very frustrated. Making beer, hard cider and mead takes more study and effort than can be acquired in a few pages. The lack of crucial information and instruction is a fast path to failure and frustration.

The information provided about kefir and kombucha are, again, incomplete, and missing the detail that facilitates success for first-time brewers. Companies that provide the cultures are far more thorough in their instruction.
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More About the Author

EMMA CHRISTENSEN is a food writer, beer reviewer, and homebrewer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the recipe editor for the popular home cooking website, The Kitchn (, and a graduate of the Cambridge School for Culinary Arts in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Emma has previously worked as the beer reviewer for Ohio's Columbus Dispatch and wrote a twice-monthly syndicated recipe column for Tribune Media Services for several years before turning to editing and cookbook writing. To learn more, visit

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