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?
Thus was born The Secrets of Master Brewers, which is part homebrew how-to, and part brewing anthropology. The book is organized to reveal the proclivity of brewers in different countries. I start with an introduction of the national style and what typifies it, and then offer deep dives into classic types of beer, with recipes and formulations offered by brewers who made them famous. The book takes us on a trip to Kelheim, Germany and Tourpes, Belgium and London, England where we learn from masters of weissbier, saison, cask ale--and 23 other classic beer archetypes. The book was mainly designed for homebrewers, but should be interesting and entertaining for anyone with a deep interest in process and technique.
“One of the truly essential books on modern brewing, period. No other book, aimed at professionals or homebrewers, could improve your brewing as much as this one will.”
– Ben Edmunds, Breakside Brewery
Thursday, March 23rd, 7pm
Columbia Center for the Arts
215 Cascade Ave, Hood River
$10, includes beer from pFriem, Double Mountain, and Solera
I'll host a panel discussion with three of my favorite brewers, all of whom are featured in the book. This will be the live-action, multi-sensory version of the book, with the brewers on hand to discuss their process and philosophies. One of the amazing advantages in writing about beer is that I get to walk around breweries with the world's best brewers and pepper them with questions. I get to hear how they think about beer, what curious techniques they use, and how their personalities get expressed through their beer. This is a rare opportunity for me to share that experience with you.
Matt Swihart has always been a hops whisperer, and he was one of the first to figure out how to properly brew fresh hop beer. Jason Kahler, who learned a great deal about brewing as a homebrewer, uses fruit from the Hood River orchards to inoculate his wort, a technique he explains in the book. (You also get a sense of the temperament it takes to work with wild, native yeasts when you talk to the very laid-back Kahler.) Finally, Josh Pfriem will talk about how he adapted a basically irreproducable style in the US--tart Flemish ales. We'll discuss the heritage and tradition of these beers, the agriculture and terroir, and of course, see how this all expresses itself in the flavors of beer.
It's a bit of a drive for Portlanders, but the start time should allow for an after-work jaunt down the Gorge if you wish to join us. With those three brewers, I guarantee a fascinating and toothsome evening. Of course, I'll be on hand to sign books afterward. Come join us, or buy the book if you can't make it.