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Friday, May 01, 2015

New Book Project: The Secrets of Master Brewers

I've been a little slow to mention my latest book project, but now that it's well under way, it's time to come clean. The idea was an outgrowth of my research for The Beer Bible; in traveling around to Britain, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, and elsewhere, I became far more attuned to the national brewing traditions in those countries. I would periodically post blogs or discuss my travels, and the people who were most interested were invariably homebrewers. People were fascinated about, say, the way in which nearly every Belgian ale spends time in secondary fermentation in a warm room, or how open fermenters are pivotal in developing flavors distinctive in weissbier, and were keen to learn more. So a flicker of an idea sparked in the back of my brain: what if those same brewers I spoke to offered basic advice on their techniques for the homebrewer.

Which brings us to (working title) Brewing the World's Classic Styles; Advice From the Professionals (Storey). [Update. new title, The Secrets of Master Brewers] I've been partnering with some of my favorite breweries from around the world to discuss the way they brew classic beers. Brewers like:
  • John Boyle at Mighty Oak (mild)
  • Hans-Peter Drexler at Schneider (weissbier)
  • John Keeling at Fuller's (strong bitter)
  • Phil Leinhart at Ommegang (witbier)
  • Peter Mosley at Porterhouse (Irish stout)
  • Matthias Richter at Bayerischer Bahnhof (gose)
  • Daniel Thiriez at Thiriez (rustic French ales)
  • Ben Edmunds at Breakside (hoppy American ales)
Those are breweries for which I have completed chapters. Others that have agreed to participate include Pilsner Urquell, Duvel, St. Feuillien, Birrificio Italiano, and more.

Each chapter will contain an overview of the style and brewing tradition. It will include basic instructions for ingredients and formulation of a typical recipe (not necessarily the brewery's own), with "next steps" for how to riff on the theme, and "deep cuts" for the truly avid homebrewer (parti-gyle brewing, making your own invert sugar, home casking, open fermentation, kettle souring, and so on).  In many chapters I've got advice from other brewers that make these kinds of beers as well, so the overall effect--I hope--will be like having a resource library of the techniques of the world's great brewers.

Beer ethnography in action at Samuel Smith's in Tadcaster.


I've already kicked off "Science Lab Fridays," wherein I test out some of these techniques so I can write sensibly about them. (You'll be very delighted to learn I'm not pretending to be a master homebrewer--I'm more like a beer ethnographer.) It's already been quite a blast, and I've learned a ton. I hope that when it's done, you will, too.

No doubt I'll reference this over the coming months. It's due December 1, and I've got a book tour starting sometime in August, so I'll be cranking away especially through the next quarter-year.

2 comments:

Kill said...

Some good style ambassadors there, looking forward to reading it. Great to see Porterhouse performing that role for the stout too, their Plain Porter and Wrasslers XXXX are impeccable, considerably better than the 'other' well-known Irish stouts.

John said...

Obviously, it not exactly the same, but isn't both the title and the content a bit overly similar to Jamil Zainasheff's and Chris White's incredible book"Brewing Classic Styles"?

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