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Brew Like a Monk: Trappist, Abbey, and Strong Belgian Ales and How to Brew Them Paperback – September 8, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stan Hieronymus is the editor of "The Real Beer Page" at www.realbeer.com, the largest source of information about beer on the Internet. Hieronymus and Daria Labinsky are travel editors for "All About Beer Magazine", the leading beer consumer magazine in the United States, and authors of" All About Beer Magazine's Beer Travelers Guide." They are the 1999 NAGBW Beer Writer of the Year and First Runner-Up, respectively.

Tim Webb was born in 1955 and spent most of his formative years in Birmingham, sin city of the industrial Midlands. To say that he attended Medical School there is stretching the truth somewhat but they were eventually kind enough to give him a degree on condition that he went somewhere else. He is now a psychiatrist ministering to troubled minds in Plymouth. He has no interest whatever in treating sexual problems as he finds them all terribly embarrassing. His main interests are self-preservation, Bathams bitter and the quest for a zipless anorak.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Brewers Publications (September 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 093738187X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0937381878
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey S. Erway on December 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
So if you've just done your first batch of beer this is not the book for you. As a matter of fact, if you have just done your first all grain batch this might not be the book for you. However, if you are a seasoned veteran of the mash tun and want to really delve head first into some of the most beautiful beers on earth this could be your ticket. I know Stan and can affirm that he knows as much about Belgian brewing as anyone in the US. Interviews with Belgian beer masters as well as those stateside gives the advanced homebrewer or professional a great idea of what it will take to brew great belgian inspired beers. Clearly the most important parts of this book to the brewer are the sections on ingredients and fermentation. If you are a diehard English inspired brewer this book will be an eye opener as to what exactly is so different about brewing belgian ales.

While being the most accessible of the series, Brew Like a Monk does have periods of extreme tehnical pursuit and it is not just there to baffle, but to educate. Topics such as pitching rates, krausening, bottle conditioning, mash PH, hop extracts, fermentation temperatures, attenuation, and adjunct types are covered in full. For those that are so inclined, Malt analysis and enzyme content are also covered as well as fermenter design of the trappist and secular breweries.

As I said, this, as well as the other two in this series, are not for the novice brewer, but if you really want a definitive and complete working knowledge of belgian brewing in the trappist tradition, look no further.
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As other reviewers have pointed out, it's a good idea for the reader to have several years of all-grain brewing experience. That, and an existing appreciation of abbey-style beers; words alone cannot adequately portray the unique flavors of Belgian fermentations.

Homebrewers often set out to create trappist-inspired beers with the goal of high alcohol content. From reading the book, one will learn that this is a flawed approach; these beers are about allowing the yeast to contribute flavor and attenuation, about embracing the quirky qualities of the yeast, and about retaining balance and "drinkability" in the beer. Higher alcohol content is serendipitous, but almost incidental.

Insightful interviews with trappist brewers, and secular brewers of superb abbey-style ales, introduce the reader to this brewing "philosophy." These discussions, and the technical data of the beers they brew, are of enormous value. (As are the lessons they learned from brewing less-than-spectacular beers.) In fact, the differences in malt bills between the two schools is radical at times. I found it amusing that many of the most revered examples of the styles do not fit neatly into the "guidelines" that are supposed to define them.

All aspects of abbey-style brewing are explored in depth... from water, ingredients, and mash temperatures to pitching rates, influences on yeast behavior, and bottle conditioning. Questions about two of the most controversial topics among homebrewers... yeast origins and sugars... are definitively answered.

Finally, the text is a joy to read! At once both thoughtful and passionate, the book conveys the reader on a journey of exploration and teaching.
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Format: Paperback
The author presumes you are a proficient brewer and concentrates on the philosophy of belgium abbey brewing rather than the mechanics of brewing. It is a good read and provides the home brewer with useful data to incorporate into their brewing. Excellent section of the use of sugars for increased attentuation and reduced cloying qualities associated with malt only brewing. Overall I would recommend this book without reservation to any home brewer seeking to gain more professional results in their brewing and greater complexity.
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If you are serious about beer and interested in the development of the Belgian style so you can create your own version, then this is a truly useful book for you the adventurous home-brewer. I started out with the clone recipe books (of which there are many out there) and initially bought this book to quickly increase my ability to clone a Belgian style beer that had enjoyed on a whim. Once I started reading however, my eyes were opened. The book does cover quite a bit of history but in doing so debunks a lot of myths about abbey beers and some of the notions about 1000 year old recipes. This is really more a book about brewing philosophy written with the small batch home-brewer in mind. There are very helpful and encouraging tips scattered throughout the book and any brewer with this new knowledge (and perhaps Brewsmith software-my personal favorite) you can continue the "tradition" of abbey beers even though you may not be affiliated with a monastery or even Belgium for that matter. Home-brewing is all about finding your style and using the experience of those that have come before to create something that you really want to drink.
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Michael Jackson’s World Guide to Beer infected me with the Belgian beer bug in the late 1980’s and award winning beer writer Stan Hieronymus’s book Brew Like a Monk is one of the best books on the topic in long time. His writing style is engaging and informative, coming across like someone you would like to spend an afternoon in a bar with listening to him talk about beer. He divides the book into three parts: Brewing in Belgium, Brewing in America and Brewing in Your Own. His Belgian beer section covers the monastic brewing tradition, Trappist Ales, Abbey Ales (commercial beers inspired by Trappist Ales), and independent breweries. This section expands the understanding of the craft beer fan and provides a lot of useful information for the home brewer interested in these styles. Hieronymus’s discussion of brewing in America describes how American craft brewers has adapted and extended to style to American conditions. Two important chapters cover process issues such as ingredients and how to handle them and important process issues such as coaxing esters and higher alcohols out of the wort. In his section on Brewing Your Own, Hieronymous, gives the home brewer enough information to understand and brew these styles along with a series of recipes to use as guides. Highly recommended for both the home brewer and fan of Belgian Trappist and Abbey Ales.
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