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Brew Chem 101: The Basics of Homebrewing Chemistry

Brew Chem 101: The Basics of Homebrewing Chemistry

Brew Chem 101: The Basics of Homebrewing Chemistry

Here’s a class they didn’t offer at your school (although maybe you did some independent study of the subject). Here, in nontechnical language, is the real story of what’s going on in that bucket, carboy, and bottle. Does every brewer need to understand the chemistry involved in making beer? No. Will understanding it help every brewer make tastier beer? Absolutely.

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3 comments

  1. 68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    A Brewing Chem Book for Non-Brewers?, April 24, 2008
    By 
    Bruce E Bowman (Clayton, IN USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Brew Chem 101: The Basics of Homebrewing Chemistry (Paperback)

    I am an analytical chemist and homebrewer. I thought this book would be targeted towards an audience that was interested in both. Seriously, who else is going to buy it? In its attempt to be “non-technical,” it simply doesn’t cover the subject matter.

    The worst thing is its complete failure to discuss water chemistry and pH control in the mash. There is a table of ions, but nothing more. Despite being a “chemistry book,” it never even defines pH. Look up “pH” in the index and you get “pH, measuring.” That’s it.

    The “best” chapter — on off-flavors — offers trite answers; lots of info on what to do, no guidance whatsoever on HOW TO DO IT.

    The last chapter is on how to be a homebrew judge. Sorry Dr Janson, but that topic is UTTERLY IRRELEVANT to the subject of your book!!

    I have been more disappointed in a book purchase, but not often. I anticipate having a difficult time even giving it away. Do not buy this book.

    UPDATE 4 YEARS LATER: I am stunned by some of the positive reviews others have left subsequent to mine. There are plenty of good books that provide an introduction to brewing but are non-technical. “How to Brew” by John Palmer is among the best and most comprehensive, and will give you everything you need to know to enjoy the hobby.

    If you really care about the subject matter, read “Principles of Brewing Science” by the late George Fix. There is no shortcut to becoming a brewing scientist.

    Same goes for homebrew judging. That one chapter at the end isn’t going to make you a beer judge.

    If you want a book that half-@sses all three topics and leaves you to fill in all the gaps then I guess this is the book for you.

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  2. John Orleans "International Man of Leisure"
    17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    A good “basics” book, December 8, 2005
    By 

    This review is from: Brew Chem 101: The Basics of Homebrewing Chemistry (Paperback)

    If you have a degree in chemistry, microbiology, or biology, this book is not for you. Buy George Fix’s book or one of the texts by the Siebel Institute. This book is also not for the all-grain veteran looking for insight on the mysteries of recipe formulation and yeast interaction. Finally, Brew Chem 101 is certainly not for the professional brewer. This book is best for beginning – intermediate homebrewers looking to move from extract brewing to partial mash or all grain brewing.

    I found this book to be an excellent introduction to brewing science for people long out of high school and/or not really science-types. It is fairly light on technology and terminology, while providing sound fundamentals on good brewing. As others have pointed out, the science in the book is not 100% accurate, but it is accurate enough for homebrewing and it seems the author intentionally simplified the science to save overly long explainations on obscure (read, boring) topics. I have some issues with the techniques used in the book, especially regarding boiling grains, but ask 50 award-winning brewers to define the perfect brewing technique and you’ll get 50 different answers.

    I do wish Janson had provided much more information on water chemistry and the effects of temperature at different stages of mashing, but I understand this book is meant as a springboard to further reading.

    I appreciated Janson’s chapter on off flavors. He provided easy to understand descriptions, possible sources, and ways to avoid them. While his solutions may seem obvious to advanced brewers, they are accurate the provide a fix to 90% of the problems encountered by novice brewers.

    Everything in this book can be found on the Internet or through your local homebrew club, and there is no published “perfect” book on homebrewing. However, it is nice to have a reference book on the shelf and, for what it is, Beer Chem 101 is very good. In conjunction with Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide or Charlie Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, Janson’s book provides an easy progression from extract brewing to all-grain brewing. I would have liked an advanced section on water, yeast, and mashing to ease the transition to Priciples of Brewing Science by George Fix, and I had a few issues with technique, so I have given it 4 stars.

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  3. 14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    This book is targeted towards advanced-beginner home brewers, November 16, 1998
    By 
    Maverick@AOL.com (Detroit, Michigan) –

    This review is from: Brew Chem 101: The Basics of Homebrewing Chemistry (Paperback)

    Brew Chem 101 is an informative book that is targeted for the home-brewer who is just moving into mash-extract or all-grain brewing. The author keeps the explanations simple and gives definitions of the terms used. It’s a good introduction to the chemistry of brewing for people who don’t have a lot of chemistry background. I had thought it would get a little more in depth in explanation of chemical reactions, but after realizing who this is written for I would say it is a good start for someone wanting to learn the very basics. Advanced All-Grain brewers need not read this book though since it spends a lot of time explaining the proceedures and why they are done.

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