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Mastering Homebrew: The Complete Guide to Brewing Delicious Beer Paperback – February 10, 2015
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"Randy is a walking encyclopedia of beer and brewing, and his palate and taste are impeccable." - From the Foreword by Jim Koch, Chairman and Cofounder, The Boston Beer Company
About the Author
Randy Mosher is a world-renowned beer expert and an awardwinning brewer, on the board of directors of the American Homebrewers Association and the Chicago Beer Society, and is a frequent contributor to national beer publications. He lives, brews, and writes in Chicago.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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There are some basic texts - like "How to Brew" by John Palmer and "Complete Joy of Homebrewing" by Charlie Papazian.
Then there are many highly specialized books - such as Malt, Yeast, Water, Hops series, or Radical Homebrewing (by Mosher and Jackson) and Experimental Homebrewing by Beechum and Conn and every book by Hironimous (on Hops, on Belgian Monk style beers, on American beers and on Wheat beers) - specific books on sour beers (Tonsmeire), wild brews (Sparrow), vintage beer, IPAs, etc.
There are recipe books like 80 recipes by Zainasheff and Palmer, Homebrew All-stars by Beechum and Conn, there are historical books - a million on craft beer - like history of Achor Steam and Sierra Nevada, but also on IPA history by Steele, and Stouts/Porters by someone I can't recall right now, etc.
There are books with more academic/scientifc explanations like the ones by Bamforth. There are books on how to taste beers, how to pair them with food, etc.
I own and read all of the books above.
If I had to limit myself to just one reference book - or recommend just a single book to a brewer - a newcomer, or even someone who has brewing for a year or a few years, I would recommend Randy Mosher's "Mastering Homebrew".
As a somewhat advanced home brewer with scientific background, I am no longer satisfied by simple instructional books that tell you what to do but do not explain the reasons for doing so. Mosher goes out of his way to explain you the *reasons* you need to take specific steps in your brewing process, not shying from some basic science behind it. This means you are not just following some instructions or recipe design that someone else put together for you, but the book encourages and gives you the skills to become knowledgeable enough to develop your own ideas and your own recipes, your own techniques etc. The books is much more open-minded and is designed to develop, teach and cultivate the best home brewer inside of you. Yes, there are technical skills and details you need to learn but the book focuses on the big picture - like understanding what each component of recipe does for the final product. This is done here much better than any other book I have seen.
And even technical details are highly relevant - for example, description of kegging is something that I suspect majority of modern home brewers do - yet very few (almost none!) books describe it at all. This book does it in great detail, as well as bottling, beer transfer and aging, primary vs. secondary, hop styles and utilization, yeast types and propagation, mash procedures, malting process, unusual ingredients etc. All of it is done with common illustration - there is a figure or a chart or a photo or a schematic or a table for almost every other page of the book, and this really helps to understand and adsorb a lot of material in a fairly short period of time. It also makes for a great reference book down the road!
Perhaps it's my scientific approach, but the diagrams, plots and charts are extremely useful in understanding some of the complexities involved in issues such as variety of hops or malt, flavor/bitterness/aroma, or even basic history of ale, lagers and craft brewing.
The book does an excellent job at covering essentially ALL of the beer styles I can think of (and many I don't think much about) in a way that clearly spells out the differences, without making it seem like a rigid orthodoxy - in fact it keeps encouraging readers to experiment and come up with new unexpected styles or ingredients, throughout the book.
The recipe part of the book is the highlight, in my opinion, as it teaches not just WHAT to put in a recipe, but also WHY you are putting each ingredient with ultimate goal of developing independently thinking brewers who are not afraid to modify existing recipes and come up with their own. This is done in a fashion unlike any book I have ever read before.
But another major highlight especially for beginning and intermediate brewer is the "troubleshooting" section which summarizes and identifies major problems with home-brew outcomes and suggests the symptomatic issues that are likely the cause of the problem.
If you ever watched any of the interviews with Randy Mosher (especially from BeerSmith podcast) it is clear he really really know what he is talking about, and it comes from decades of passionate research -whether he is talking about neuro-gastronomy of aroma perception in beer, or physics of carbonation or chemistry of mashing and malting, or false historic myths about IPAs and belgian beers - Randy seems to know it all, and know it well.
This book is highly recommended, I believe it will surpass any other home-brew book and quickly become THE BIBLE of home brewers.
This book is a great first read for beginner home brewers but at the same time could be an extremely useful reference for intermediate and even advanced brewers who have dozens of batches under their belt. Highly recommended