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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Beer Week: Mary Izett's Speed Brewing

Speed Brewing
Mary Izett
Voyageur Press, 192 pages, $20

  • What is it? A homebrewing book focused on speedy fermentation
  • Who's it For? Urban homebrewers on the go
  • Reviewer Disclosure. None. I have no connection to Mary Izett
  • Scope. Homebrewing
The Review
I have noticed a recent trend in homebrewing of books that offer full all-grain brewing experiences, but in uncomplicated forms especially for urban dwellers. Mary Izett, a New Yorker, follows this trend and offers a range of different fermented beverages that can be made quickly in one- or two-gallon batches. No complex RIMS or HERMS system--nor a back yard--necessary. These books are a very welcome addition to the homebrewing canon; they recognize a basic obstacle to brewing (complexity and cost) and address it not by dumbing-down homebrewing with extracts, but just making smaller, less complicated beers.

Izett spends the first 55 pages explaining the process of brewing and giving an overview of the various ingredients. It's brisk and clear, and those who follow the instructions will be able to brew their first batches without investing a ton of money. Homebrew converts can easily scale up without having spent a bunch of money on now-useless equipment, and those who make just a batch or two won't feel guilty about what they spent.

The recipes are divided into different categories of fermentables: beer, cider, mead, kombucha, fermented sodas (hey, they're a thing now, don'tcha know?), and a way-too-short section on traditional beverages like kvass and tepache. I didn't brew the recipes but the beer, anyway, looks well-done. The cider section isn't so great (she directs readers to ferment plain grocery-store apple juice), but the mead section is. (Mead is an overlooked treat.)

Since it's an introductory book designed to get people to try their hand at brewing, the recipes are basic and designed to be foolproof--or at least hard to mess up. Anyone who buys this book in order to get started with the mechanics of brewing will be very pleased. If you want to get someone interested in homebrewing, buy them this book or a book like it--it is far better than a $200 kit for making extract beers.

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