Friday, January 31, 2014

Craft beer bookshelf: Brewtal beers and brewing Water

Image credit:  Globe Pequot Press, Brewers Publicatoins

Up for your consideration, this round of book reviews features topics from opposite ends of the spectrum.  The first might best be described as a beer and heavy metal pairing guide. Naturally, that means virtually any beer from Jester King containing the word "metal" has warranted inclusion.  As for the other, it's the third of four planned books in the Brewers Association's Brewing Elements series.  The water book follows those covering yeast and hops, with another on malt scheduled to be out later this year.

Decibel presents the Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers

by Adem Tepedelen

On the surface, the idea of metal music magazine being the presenting sponsor of a beer book might seem a bit...well, extreme. Looking at it from author Adem Tepedelen's point of view, though, he believes that those who prefer creativity in their beer are more than likely to prefer it in their music, too. To that end, his Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers offers you "an all-excess pass to brewing's outer limits." Brews are categorized according to "how" they are extreme. It could be the name, the ingredients, how the beer is made or the design of the label. Each is judged accorded to a 5-point skull and crossbones rating system, and the question isn't about taste, it's about how challenging is the taste experience?  An "Extreme Music Pairing" accompanies each beer as well, with musical selections running the gamut from from Ozzy and Iron Maiden, to Ministry and Opeth. Breaks between beers are Q&As highlighting "Brewtal Breweries" and "Brewtal Musicians", with names like Greg Koch of Stone, Adam Avery and Brann Dailor of Mastodon lending their perspectives to the topic at hand. It's not your everyday beer book, as it takes the "tasting guide" format to a whole different level.  To the extreme, you might say.

Available in paperback at, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.

* Review copy furnished courtesy of Globe Pequot Press.

Water:  A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers
by John Palmer and Colin Kaminski

Most of us look at water and just see water. It doesn't look like much, doesn't smell like much, and other than residual flavors due to chlorine or other chemical treatments it doesn't taste like much either. For brewers, it represents the "last frontier." Water chemistry affects the beer you drink more than you realize, and it's the one component brewers can change without having to source different ingredients. This book endeavors to put the "world's knowledge of brewing water together in one place." Topics covered include source and wastewater treatment techniques, adjusting water for style, residual alkalinity and mash pH. The presentation is technical, but there are plenty of tables, graphs and worked examples to help you along the way. Still, you'll probably need to brush up on dimensional analysis and high school chemistry (a primer is included in the appendix) to get the most out of the material. I'd also recommend having Periodic Table of the Elements at the ready. Reviewing this one is easy: required reading for brewers.

Available in paperback at the Brewers Association,, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.

* Review copy furnished courtesy of Brewers Publications.

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