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Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass Paperback – May 6, 2004
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From the Publisher
Radical Brewing: The New Classic of Beer Literature
History, humor and homebrewing converge when the creative and prolific mind of Randy Mosher explores the expressive side of beer in Radical Brewing.
Mosher sees homebrewingand by extension craft brewingas an antidote to corporate, mass-market beers. Over two decades of brewing and beer research, he has probed the depths of beer history in both his reading and his brewing. Radical Brewing displays the many unique ales and lagers that have resulted from his celebration of beer while serving as a vehicle for discussing a creative, "outside the lines" approach to modern brewing. Through it all, the reader is treated to Moshers irresistible love of beer and brewing as well as some very humorous asides on beer history.
The infectious spirit of homebrewing is hard to resist when one reviews Moshers recipe for "Electric Aunt Jemima Maple Buckwheat Ale," checks out the section on "(Not so Dumb) Blonde Ales" or chuckles through his fanciful description of the birth of beer featuring the ancient Harleh-riding Urs Angels. Best of all, the two-color visually rich content comes in self-contained segments that instantly engage readers no matter what page they turn to.
Typically, modern brewing books focus on the science of how to brewand Mosher has mastered all of that. But in Radical Brewing, he focuses on the creative, expressive opportunities available to those with a brew kettle. Each chapter offers techniques and recipes as well as ideas for independent exploration of new brewing frontiers. The result is a text that both informs and inspires experienced brewers while providing an engaging and intelligent introduction to the hobby for newcomers.
Famed beer writer Michael Jackson once called Mosher "some kind of homebrewing genius" and in the forward to Radical Brewing, he further lionizes this genius, saying "His activities are probably a threat to our morals. Passion, imagination and tenacity are a challenge to the established order." These two masters of beer have collaborated in the past, as Jackson notes when he tells how Mosher accurately recreated the flavor of a now-lost beer style that even Jackson had only once tasted himself. And though Jacksons accolades for Mosher are great, one can only imagine that they will pale as practicing brewers of all stripes begin to digest Moshers treasure-trove of beer ideas and render their own reviews of this delightful book.
From the Inside Flap
From the Foreword, The Marvel of Mosher, by Michael Jackson:
The world desperately needs more Moshers. If only we had more Moshers, the Tasmanian tiger might return from extinction. Mike Tyson at his peak would be able to step into the ring with Muhammad Ali. We would be able to see and hear the great performers who pre-dated the recording of sound. I might even now be sipping a pre-Prohibition beer and checking whether Buddy Bolden could be heard across Lake Ponchartrain. Or I might be sampling Harwood's Porter in a London pub, or an India Pale Ale aboard a clipper heading for Calcutta.
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I like that he doesn't get bogged down in repetitive detail, though at times the book is less than clear. For instance, he's a big proponent of step mashes, and describes many in detail, but he doesn't ever talk about the difference between step mashing fully modified malts versus the oddball historical varieties he uses for many of his recipes. So if you're new to step or decoction mashes but want to apply his ideas to more conventional malts, there's no guidance on what to expect.
He also lists "maturation time" for each recipe, without ever defining what that means (Brew day to peak flavor? Lagering/cold-conditioning? Secondary?).
But those minor defects aside, it's a great book, and one any advanced brewer should read. It will get you to challenge your assumptions, try new things, and ultimately make better beer.
Mosher's book showed me that there is always more to learn. His writing style is witty, but the information on the nuances, the composing of brews, arranging and layering the ingredients like a well written symphony, is what I took away.
Who knew that Fenugeek could be used in beer. I rushed to my spice cabinet and sure enough, the maple aroma and subtle flavor would add a lot to the right beer. Who knew? Mosher knew. Now I know. There are a lot of gems in the book. Suggestions, hints, inside tips. Well worth the money. Papizans book was my starting point, but in truth, I have not opened the book in over ten years or more. The basics are the basics. Just like any art, you have to have a good grasp of the basics in order to reach the next level.
This book assumes that the reader already has that basic knowledge, and I believe even makes that statement early on, but even a novice can benefit from his treatments of the basics like water chemistry, mashing, color, hops and yeast. While other books for beginner simplify things, they may do a disservice in glossing over things in the interest of simplicity and there by lead the novice brewer into the mindfield of failure. The novice then fails to produce beer up to his expectations, and does not know why when it might be as simple as the water he takes from his tap, or the bottles he chooses to use.
I remember my early brewing days. I made a maerzen from extract, lagered it bottled it and then in my stupidity left it out on my deck to bake in the Houston sun for a day. It was the only skunky beer I ever made and was still palatable to some of my less discerning friends. I learned two things, one about myself: don't cut corners, and don't get lazy. The second I learned about my beer drinking friends: Don't cast pearls before swine. Henceforth, I kept the good stuff for myself and served them the rest. Anyone who could drink the skunky mess I made by my own stupidity, could not really appreciate a good home craft made beer.
Those novice brewers who use plastic coke bottles or green glass bottles need to know that some of thier bad beer may not be due to their brewing, but rather listening to other so called brew gurus' who advocate using those types of bottles for home brewing. If you take the time to brew it, invest the money in doing it right.
This book teaches those lessons.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a little adventure in their brewing.
Update (8/6/2012): So, I've been brewing for many years now and this book has been almost completely worn out. I stand by the statement this is not a "how to brew" book. It does have a section for that, but it's limited and not particularly thorough (I do recommend Papazian's Complete Joy of HomeBrewing for that). I use this book for interesting ingredients, archaic techniques, and little known beer styles. If you get this book, you will use it all the time. It has an exhaustive list of most grains, hops, adjucts, herbs, etc... that you might ever want to use with at least a few short blurbs about it. If you ever get in a brewing funk, just open this book to a random page and you'll have a new idea in no time.