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Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles Paperback – January 26, 1998
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Part 1 of Designing Great Beers is a complete book in itself, focused solely on home-brewing ingredients and techniques (including three superb chapters on hops alone). Ray Daniels proves himself the "techie" type, infusing his introductory chapters with as much brewing math as brewing lore. Yet, Daniels never hops off the deep end of beer geekdom. Instead, he complements this emphasis on data with the creative use of graphics; where one could get bogged down in the stats, there is usually a clear visual depiction to instantly summarize their meaning.
This focus on facts continues into part 2 of Daniels's guide, where it backs an admirably pragmatic take on beer styles and their importance in home-brewing. Daniels devotes a chapter to each of 14 major style categories, detailing historical origins and modern brewing techniques. He lays a contemporary groundwork by compiling and analyzing the recipes of the National Homebrew Competition's most successful beers. The assumption is that beers deemed representative of particular beer styles in modern competitions serve as ideal models for recipe creation. Among the information provided for each style is a chart showing the percentage of brewers using each type of grain and in what proportions the grains were added. Similar data are supplied for hop varieties, yeast strains, and water treatment. This reverse engineering of award-winning beers naturally benefits experienced brewers seeking to wow judges at the next competition. Yet, even brewers taking their first shy steps into creating their own recipes have much to gain from this kind of practical analysis. Daniels provides the basic tools a brewer of any level can use to formulate recipes with confidence and creativity. --Todd Gehman
Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide To Brewing Classic Beer Styles is more than just a recipe book or merely another "how-to" manual, it is an indispensable guide intended for brewers interested in formulating their own beers based on classic styles, modern techniques, and their own vision of the perfect beer. With more than 200 tables, Designing Great Beers offers brewers knowledge on the essence of various styles, giving them the needed insight to create their own beers including "Six Steps to Successful Beer", "Hitting Target Gravity", "Pilsener and Other Pale Lagers", "Yellow-Red Proportions of Beers, Malts and Caramels", and "Common Hop Varieties and Their Typical Alpha Acid Levels". Designing Great Beers is must reading for every home brewer, microbrewer, and fun armchair reading for armchair reader contemplating the perfect brew. -- Midwest Book Review
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Many of the equations needed to determine the amounts needed in the recipes make no sense. This makes the strongest points of the book worthless. Until the equation errors are corrected, I would recommend saving your money for the print copy
All that said, I still think it's a worthwhile purchase but I wouldn't bother with it until you have brewed at least 100 batches and have your process and technique dialed in. In my opinion, your copies of "Brewing Classic Styles" and "How to Brew"need to be worn out and wort stained long before you buy this book.
I got this book and it sat around with a few glances for a bit and I finally got to reading it with a notepad. I appreciate it much more now. The chapters are short and too the point with about the first 3rd covering the technical basics of designing a beer. It doesn't give you all the science. You learn how to select your grain bill for a target gravity and calculate target IBUs based on the hopping schedule. I was able to set up an excel sheet to auto calculate these from my selections.
If you're home brewing with all grain, tinkering with the recipes of others, "The Complete Joy of Home Brewing" by Charlie Papazian is no longer satisfying your curiosity, want clearer definitions, want to be able to calculate your targets beforehand, and are wondering where to go next, this is probably for you.
The last 2/3 of the book cover beer styles with definitions of and typical ranges for OGs, IBUs, etc. There are specific definitions for each beer which need to be used if you were to enter a competition and this gives it to you. Of course as a brewer, you can do what you wish but the guide will help tell you what it is not. I'm a bigger beer snob now because of it.
Out of the gate, I designed a rye porter and it's the best beer I've made to date. My second incarnation was not as good but that will come with better knowledge of the ingredients. Perhaps, I can get a book on grains next.
The point is that I'd been starting with other peoples recipes and tinkering with those and this book let me design a beer based on my ideas and it worked well the first time out of the gate. It also allows me to look at other recipes and decide what's going to work for me.