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Brew Like a Monk: Trappist, Abbey, and Strong Belgian Ales and How to Brew Them Paperback – September 8, 2005
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Everyone likes Belgian beers, and Brew Like a Monk covers everything between grain bills, style guidelines (ABV, IBU, SRM, etc), and even brewery strategies (fermentation temps, ABV results on sales, etc).
This is not a manual, which are great to get as a first book because they cover a lot of basics for many styles. Brew like a monk is a very readable book with great information for homebrewers who already know the basics.
Above anything else, the author reminds the reader that each of these places is an abbey with a brewery and not the other way around. Despite the fact that the beers are truly amazing, Stan Hieronymous does not let the reader forget the reason for the existence of these beers (to add extra income to the abbey and serve as a form of manual labor according to the Rule of Saint Benedict). The author does a wonderful job of outlining the monastic way of life and mentality, and how this life of silence and harmony manages to produce some of the finest beers in the world time and time again.
In addition to the famous Trappist Ales, Stan Hieronymous also provides extensive information on other commercial examples that are produced both in Belgium and the United States. While the main focus of this book is about the Trappist ales produced in the six specific Cistercian monestaries, the reader can also find detailed information about Abbey ales as well as beers brewed in the United States that follow the Belgian tradition and style.
Homebrewers will not be disappointed. With plenty of mash schedules and temperatures as well as listed ingredients, fermentation times and temperatures and yeast strains, this book is a highly valuable asset for any homebrewer who wants to try (underline the TRY about five times considering the amazing quality of these beers) to make a beer similar to these Belgian styles at home.
If Amazon.com had a rating for 6 or even 10 stars I would choose the highest possible rating for this truly excellent book, as well as a personal commendation for Stan Hieronymous who so artfully presents the Trappists' breweries and way of life.