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Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers (Brewing Elements) Paperback – October 7, 2013
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About the Author
John Palmer is the best-selling author of How to Brew, and the co-author of Brewing Classic Styles. He is also the co-host the popular brewing podcast, Brew Strong. John is a metallurgical engineer by trade, and is intrigued by the processes of brewing from an engineer’s point of view, including malting, mashing, water chemistry, lautering, clarity, color, and foam retention. John was born in Midland, MI and currently resides in California.
Colin Kaminski’s brewing career started as the product designer at Beer, Beer and More Beer, designing more than 180 products including the Peltier cooled conical fermentor. Colin has written on a variety of topics including lutherie, holography, solar astronomy and beer. He has been the Master Brewer at Downtown Joe’s Brewery since 2003. Colin resides in California
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That said, there is a treasure trove of good information here if you can slog your way through to it. Perhaps the uber technical stuff should be included as an appendix and referenced as needed in the text for those interested.
Maybe I don't know what it is I need to know, but what I wanted to know was:
1. What are the ideal ranges of water ph and mineral profiles for various beer styles. NOT the water profile of the town that the style was originally brewed.
2. How to understand the properties of the water I am using.
3. The importance of the mash ph and how water alkalinity and grain bill help to approach the target (RA). Then how to adjust the ph if it is out of the acceptable range. Not in moles, mill-equivalents or furlongs per fortnight but grams/ml per gallon mash.
4. The affect of mineral levels and ratios on beer flavor, head retention, hop utilization, etc. Then how to adjust my water to achieve these levels.
While most of this information is included it is a hard read getting there. The additional uber technical info just seemed to complicate (obfuscate) the necessary information. Just one guys thoughts.
I'm not talking rookie homebrewers. I'm talking homebrewers with years of practice having read most of homebrew info on whats
available around (not that this is any credential, just saying)
Also I feel one of the goals of the book is to push the envelope on the current info related to water and brewing and assembling all in one place, which is a nice start. The goal is noble, the approach could have been slightly better IMHO.
The book covers lots of detail and technical complexities related to water in brewing, but does not explain the technical (chemistry) in enough depth to be fully understood by a homebrewer, which is the target audience aimed by the authors.
Not complaining that the topic is complex, which it is indeed, my critique is that if you are going to write a book for homebrewers (no matter how simple or advanced) you should care to explain the very fine bits doesnt matter if it takes 1000 pages, cos homebrewers dont normally have chemistry background. Not something easy to be done...
If the book just throws a bunch of information and assumes everyone is familiar with it and has the pre-requirement background info on chemistry etc, and then leaves the reader hanging and looking for explanations, then I'd rather buy a pro book like Kunze or a hardcore
water chemistry book for that matter...
After reading the book, by page 100 you get the impression the authors start rushing the topics and throwing one concept or definition after another withouth much care to explain the whys and hows. The pace then accelerates until you see yourself overwhelmed with information that you either dont understand and/or know what to do with it... dumping concepts and notions of residual alkalinity and then starts taking about Z residual alkalinity, and mentions graphs that you dont know where they came from or how were created, and calculations that can only be performed with the help of graphs that came out of the blue sky.
This is not like the other books of The Brewing Elements Series which are relativelly easy to grasp,
I have an engineering background, but after reading the book I still dont grasp several concepts. Frustrating...
Funny thing is that I'm currently attending a "pro" course on Master Brewing, and the "water part" of the course is based on this book,
but the professor (a professional working on mega brewery industry) couldnt explain half of the book...
Anyway... I think the book would have been more digestible if they started with basic details on water and then right to the practical stuff for a homebrewer, and then moved all the hermetic technical stuff to appendices where it could be browsed as needed. Just to be more paupable and not scare people away (yes, I read the introduction and remember the authors explicitly said: " this is not a beginner book" )
It was a good attempt for a first try though (and I always like to end with the positives), and it has the merits of being a very specific topic related to brewing that you'd have to dig through several other tomes to get through. Hopefully it will improve for next editions.