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Brewing with Wheat Paperback – March 16, 2010
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"In Brewing with Wheat Stan Hieronymus has given homebrewers, craft brewers, and beer enthusiasts alike a wheat-fueled flux-capacitor that will transport them from region to region around the world. This page-by-page journey will satisfy the reader's thirst for the knowledge, history, and science needed for producing and enjoying the wide spectrum of wheat beers." --Sam Calagione, founder, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
"Stan Hieronymus has filled a giant, gaping hole in the beer literature with this book. And once again, he has done it with crisp, engaging prose, loaded with rock solid information, much of it directly from those who brew these delicious but technically challenging beers every day." --Randy Mosher, author of Radical Brewing and Tasting Beer
From the Inside Flap
From the Foreword: "Tracking those old beers--German, Belgian, whatever--makes one realize that the key to the old styles, probably even more than the recipes themselves, was to be found in the local microflora of each brewery. (Jean-Baptiste) Vrancken reports eighteenth and nineteenth century trials, in which brewmasters were sent from a brewery to another similar one, with all their equipment, raw material, and techniques. Sometimes the grains were even crushed in the first brewery to mimic the process perfectly. They never succeeded in making the same beer in the next village!" - Yvan De Baets, Brewer, Brasserie de la Senne Brussels, Belgium
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Rather than being a recipe book of steps to follow, this book fills the role of spending time with both the brewers who make these beers, and an experienced beer writer who can help collate the massive amount of knowledge and opinion out there about how to create them. "Brewing With Wheat" is not only about how to brew a good wheat beer, but also about why the featured brewers think these are best practices.
There is certainly technical information, but without being prescriptive. Stan assumes the readers of this book are already good brewers who can think about what is being made and adapt ideas to their own systems and preferences. And yet, as specific as some information is, it avoids telling you what to do. That will certainly be frustrating for some, but it is exactly how I think about my brewing. I'm looking forward to this book getting as shopworn as "Brew Like a Monk" has become.
Much like his previous book, Brewing with Wheat provides an incredibly well-researched, incredibly comprehensive discussion of brewing wheat beers. He covers all the classic styles in great depth, talking to a range of producers, and even researches details on more rarely brewed, antiquated styles. The information extensive, ranging from ingredients used from producers, to very specific temperature and flavor charts for ALL commercially available wheat yeasts. Some (including myself) may find that his anecdotal discussion style may lead to some long-winded sections that are occasionally tangential. However, it is very readable and the information is top-notch. It gave me many ideas, including insights on how to brew better versions of these beers.
I have tested out several of the techniques listed and consider this to be a valuable addition to my brewing library. I was able to brew better wheat beer almost immediately, and to utilize several techniques to control flavor characteristics (e.g., creating a lower-ester, higher phenol heffeweizen through a combination of mash and fermentation techniques). In particular, I think the table of yeast strains provided at the back of the book (even more comprehensive than Brew Like A Monk) is an incredible resource to any brewer who wishes to brew wheat beers. I also appreciate that Gordon Strong, one of the most noted American beer judges, provides insights what judges look for in these beers, including common off-flavors and mistakes. These not only let people know what to do, but also make it clear what is inappropriate for these beers as well.
I want to emphasize, this is not an instruction manual or a basic recipe book. It's a discussion of the ingredients, techniques, and processes used by commercial brewers and several homebrewers. It lets you know what producers do and why, so you can assess that information yourself and determine the best way to use it. While there are a couple recipes, this is not a basic how-to manual. It assumes you are at least familiar with basic brewing processes and science. Beginning brewers should first read books like How to Brew,The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, or similar manuals to understand the techniques described within them. Those looking to simply get good recipes have a number of other options. Those who want to think about making truly great wheat beer should read this book.