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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: "Yeast" by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff

Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation
Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff

Brewers Publications, $19.95
Beer books can be divided generally into two huge categories: brewing and appreciation. I wish it weren't so. Everyone who appreciates good beer would do well to pick up a few key books on brewing, just to have a sense of how things works. Yeast, the latest from Brewers Publications, is a case in point. Although it has way more technical information than an appreciator needs (and even most homebrewers), it has the kinds of explanations of the brewing process that you can never find in books solely about flavor and styles. So, for the person who wants a deep understanding of the way their beer tastes, understanding how it was brewed and what effected its flavor are essential. I would recommend Yeast to pretty much anyone--though admittedly, the non-brewers would probably hate me for it.

It's a bit of a funny book in that it's aimed at both the small-scale professional and the advanced homebrewer. The writers, White (founder of White Labs, a yeast manufacturer) and Zainasheff (a homebrewer) oscillate between providing information for commercial-scale brewing and advanced homebrewing. Since I only aspire to advanced homebrewing and am not a commercial brewer, it's not clear to me how well they split the difference--though obviously, combining the audiences makes more sense for book sales.

In any case, you will learn everything about yeast, from the chemical composition to the behavior under every imaginable circumstance, in this book. You'll learn about attenuation, flocculation, inoculation rates, temperature, and the compounds yeast produces. It's designed to be a reference, so you skip past certain parts and re-read other parts. About eighty pages of the book describe how to set up a lab and what you can do in it; maybe one day I will need to know that, but I was happy to just thumb through.

I could go on and on, but this one is a no-brainer: buy it. Everyone should have a copy on her shelf.


  1. Hmmm I will have to check that out.

  2. It's on my X-mas wish list along with Great Beers of Belgium, which I have been meaning to buy for a long time. One for the appreciator and one for the brewer.

  3. Thanks for your review! It's very useful!