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Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition Paperback – November 17, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Phil Markowski
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Brewers Publications (November 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0937381845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0937381847
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeff Stearns on April 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Farmhouse Ales focuses on the Biere de Garde of northern France and the Saison ales of Belgium. Neither of these styles is a single type of beer, but rather a category of ales made locally with various brewing methods and array of ingredients, including spices. The brewing methods in these areas continue to evolve and do not necessarily relate to the styles of the past. Although the styles have an amorphous nature, this book provided me with a clear understanding of Biere de Garde and Saison.

Experienced brewers will discover plenty of information in this book, especially ideas that go against the common convictions about brewing. What about fermenting at high temperatures? Mixing yeasts? Red wine type yeasts? Warm storage? Markowski takes the view that brewing is a process of experimentation, rather than following set recipes. Obviously this book is not for a beginning home brewer.

Markowski argues that though the classification of beer styles is useful, the classifications should not be used to inhibit the brewer from coming up with something much different. I agree with this. What is the use of always imitating commercial beers? Our fascination with brewing is to discover a new taste through experimentation.

This book covers the past and present styles of Biere de Garde and Saison (including an informative essay by Yvan De Baets on how Saison evolved), and provides a list of the breweries producing the styles, detailing grains, hops, temperatures and other brewing details, along with tasting notes on the beers they produce.

In sections on brewing the styles, the sample recipes are just guidelines (in the spirit of experimentation) rather than set formulas.
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This book contains a wealth of practical information for the experienced homebrewer, without being dry or stuffy. Thankfully, there are no pages wasted on "brewing for beginners" or "equipment you'll need to get started"; it is assumed the reader already has a basic knowledge of all-grain brewing procedures, and beer appreciation in general.

Discussion of historical and geographic influences on saison and biere de garde are interesting and kept to a minumum. Of particular interest is the text devoted to paragons of both styles- describing their evolutions, specific malts and hops used, abv and attenuation, yeasts, gravities, fermentation temperatures, aging, water profiles, and so on... everything one would need to reverse-engineer a clone beer, if one chose to do so.

It is not, however, a collection of clone recipes. The samples recipes for variations of both styles are intended as guidelines, easily adaptable to individual brewhouse procedures and efficiencies. Also, the parameters are so diverse that it is difficult, if not impossible, to define style guidelines, a fact that the author acknowledges. This loose end can be frustrating to the reader.

Overall, a useful book; solid information, and nothing irrelevant or overtechnical.
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Phil Markowski, Southampton Publick House’s brewmaster and brewer of the highly acclaimed Southampton Publick House Saison Deluxe writes the book of farmhouse ales. He is assisted by Lost Abbey’s brewmaster Tomme Arthur and Brasserie de la Senne’s founder and brewmaster Yvan De Baets. Markowski introduces farmhouse ales with a discussion on the history and current status of the beer and a brief discussion on style. He devotes about a third of the Book to Biere de Garde, the farmhouse ale of northern France and nearly half to the Belgian farmhouse ale, Saison. Both sections give an overview of the style, discuss brewing the style and provide sample recipes. While the book is packed with practical experience it will probably appeal more to the fan of farmhouse ales than to the novice home brewer. While there is more meat on beer making traditions, experienced homebrewers should be able to take the information in this this book and improve their farmhouse ales.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition to add to my beer book collection and to gain some more detailed insight into the saison and biere de garde styles. Although I am only partway through reading this book by Phil Markowski, I find it very informative and highly recommend it.

Here’s some more information straight from the back cover of the book:

Readers interested in the cuisine and beers of Belgium will enjoy discovering Farmhouse Ales, The text delves into Wallonian saison and French biere de garde, as well as related specialties such as grisette, biere de Mars and biere de Noel. By exploring both ingredients and process, veteran brewer Phil Markowski shows what distinguishes these flavorful ales and why they hold a special place in the world of beer.

About the Author:
A professional brewer since 1989, Phil Markoswski is recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on the flavor and brewing of Belgium beer styles and especially farmhouse ales. As brewmaster at the Southhampton Publick House, he has collected numerous awards for his Belgian ales and other tasty brews. In 2003, the Association of Brewers honored him with the Russell Schehrer award for Innovation in Craft Brewing.

MSRP: $17.95
Publisher: Brewers Publication – A division of the Brewers Association, Boulder, CO
Published in 2004.
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