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The Complete Homebrew Beer Book: 200 Easy Recipes, from Ales and Lagers to Extreme Beers and International Favorites

The Complete Homebrew Beer Book: 200 Easy Recipes, from Ales and Lagers to Extreme Beers and International Favorites

The Complete Homebrew Beer Book: 200 Easy Recipes, from Ales and Lagers to Extreme Beers and International Favorites

How to brew, ferment and enjoy world-class beers at home. Making beer at home is as easy as making soup! George Hummel smoothly guides the reader through the process of creating a base to which the homebrewer can apply a myriad of intriguing flavorings, such as fruits, spices and even smoke. There are also outstanding and easy recipes for delicious meads, tasty ciders and great sodas — all of which can be made in a home kitchen and with minimal equipment. Using Hummel’s easy-to-follow i

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  1. Carolyn Smagalski "Beer Fox"
    6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Quickest Path to Homebrewing – period!, August 16, 2011
    By 
    Carolyn Smagalski “Beer Fox” (Philadelphia, PA USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: The Complete Homebrew Beer Book: 200 Easy Recipes, from Ales and Lagers to Extreme Beers and International Favorites (Paperback)

    This is no ordinary book on beer and brewing. If I were to use American slang, I would say :it cut to the chase.” In an easy, conversational style, George presents homebrewing with all the essentials. In fact, he does it so clearly that he leaves nothing as a question in the reader’s mind. In simple language, he explains how to remove chemicals from water while still preserving its mineral content (and why you should), or where to lay equipment after it has been sanitized. He clearly explains primary, secondary and tertiary racking, what equipment is necessary vs. nice, and what products work best under specific circumstances. There is no need to get hung-up on the details, because George covers all those crazy things that make people hesitate.

    Anyone who has contemplated brewing has heard horror stories about boil-overs, not having big enough pots, or cleaning out whole-grain and hop sludge after mashing, even when only a small amount was used. George explains what causes these situations, and offers practical solutions for every one of them – so well, that you feel he is in your kitchen with his brotherly support. In little sidebars, he even gives tips and suggestions about equipment, yeast, sanitizing oak chips, and milling your own grain. He also provides sidebars with brief explanations about each beer style, the original gravities, and a short equipment list. He does not confuse the brewer with any numbers for final gravity, but does clearly explain how to determine that fermentation is complete.

    The book is divided into Part One for novices, followed by Part Two for more advanced homebrewers – using whole grains in conjunction with malt extracts. He provides charts of Brewing Gear and Supplies, with columns that list essential equipment vs. helpful, but not necessary, equipment. He even provides a Brew Day Process Summary, laid out in the order in which you need to do each task.

    As the material becomes more complex, he presents charts to categorize malts and hops, along with the countries of origin and characteristics of each. He provides chapters of beer recipes specific to these countries, making it easy to understand a favorite style, or how local ingredients or water profiles drove style-development in Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, France, the British Isles, or North America. He then returns to the beginner recipes from Part One, modified to include the use of whole grains to enhance flavor.

    Part Three really soars, focused on beers that may be viewed as weird or extreme – George’s words, not mine! It’s all part of his easy-going style. He does not touch on beers that are crafted using unusual “processes,” (like stein beer, fire-brewed beer, or Stingo beer), but on unusual or exotic “ingredients” that make brewing both fun and creative. These exotics include Gruit, Sahti, Wassail, Grodzinsky, Rauchbier, Berliner Weisse, Gueuze, Fruit Beer, and even Gluten Free Beers for the Celiac population.

    He also immerses you in Wheat Wines, Mead, and Cider. For the younger set, homebrewed root beer, ginger ale, and birch beer round up the tail end of the book. A Glossary, with illustrations for the more obscure pieces of equipment, is included.

    Hummel does include Irish Moss as a clarifying agent in nearly all recipes in the book, except for those that traditionally retain yeast or are flavored by delicate herbs, orange peel, or apple, such as Bavarian Hefeweisen, Witbier, or Cider. Although other products can clear beer haze, simplicity and economics makes this an ideal choice.

    Yeast nutrient is also used in all recipes in this book, a practice not shared by all in the brewing community. Hummel’s brewing philosophy runs counter to that of Charlie Papazian, author of The Complete Joy of Home Brewing. Papazian cautions against using yeast nutrients because, although it helps yeast do its work, beer can then exhibit less sweetness, less body, less head retention, and more alcohol. But under-attenuated beer is not good either, and Hummel’s advice supports that philosophy.

    George Hummel strongly recommends that you keep a detailed journal of your brewing, including personal preferences, successes and bumps along the way. Your own experience will guide you whether to use certain ingredients or forego them. As George says, “All this information helps you decide what to use in your brew.”

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  2. 4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Good recipes, process info a little questionable, February 23, 2012
    By 
    Ramsay M. Hoguet (Cleveland, OH USA) –

    This review is from: The Complete Homebrew Beer Book: 200 Easy Recipes, from Ales and Lagers to Extreme Beers and International Favorites (Paperback)

    I received this book as a gift, after I had brewed about 8 batches of beer and jumped into all-grain in order to spend less money on ingredients and have greater control over the process. Thus I had a little bit of experience and knowledge before I took a look at this book.

    The recipes in this book are in my experience pretty good and certainly cover a wide range of beer styles and tastes, including some unusual beers such as smoked beers, fruit beers, etc. and ciders and mead. A brewer could probably use this as his or her only recipe book and still have a huge variety of beers to brew. The directions for the process of brewing are also pretty good, at least for the beginner. They include information on making yeast starters, steeping specialty grains, controlling the temperature of the fermentation, lagering, etc.

    I do have some concerns about this book though.

    This book does not give a good description of how each beer is supposed to taste when it is done. What are the characteristics of a good example for each style? For someone who has not toured the world of beers, this information would be very helpful in deciding what style to brew and in evaluating the end product.

    The specs for the recipes do include the OG and some other numbers, but not the Finishing Gravity or the IBUs. Even a beginner should be given this information in order to tell when the beer is done fermenting and to calculate the IBUs in case he needs to make hop substitutions.

    The directions for brewing are repeated for each recipe, taking up a lot of pages that could have been used for a better discussion of the beer style and tips specific to that style. A few checklists etc., for the reader to copy and use each time he brews would be better in my view.

    Although homebrew gurus such as Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer no longer recommend secondary fermentation except for lagers or extended bulk aging, this book for almost all recipes call for secondary after only a few days of primary fermentation. The downsides to racking to secondary are that it is an opportunity for infection by wild yeasts or bacteria, and that doing so can prevent the yeast from cleaning up diacetyl and other undesirable fermentation byproducts. There is probably little upside to secondary fermentation for most ales as yeast autolysis is not generally a problem for homebrewers.

    Even different types of ales should be fermented at different temperatures, but this book suggests 68F – 72F for all of its ales. Bad advice. Such warm temperatures can cause hefeweizens to taste like bubblegum or high gravity ales to develop nasty fusel alcohols or excessively estery flavors. In the case of saison yeasts, this temperature range is too low to assure full attenuation, which in turn could lead to an overly sweet, undercarbonated beer, or potentially exploding bottles if the beer fully attenuates after bottling. Also it seems that the section on sour beers neglects to emphasize the necessity keeping any plastic equipment used for sour beers away from clean beers so as to avoid contamination with brett or bacteria.

    So, while I think The Complete Homebrew Beer Book has a large variety of high-quality recipes, it fails to give enough information about the unique nature of each recipe and the keys to brewing that recipe or style properly. I would highly recommend Brewing Classic Styles for that type of information.

    If you are a beginning brewer, this is a good place to start but you should be sure to research each style and how best to brew it before jumping into these recipes.

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  3. 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Gift for Dad, January 28, 2013
    By 

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: The Complete Homebrew Beer Book: 200 Easy Recipes, from Ales and Lagers to Extreme Beers and International Favorites (Paperback)

    Dad can’t wait to use this recipe book with his new home-brewing kit. Tons of recipes and great variety inside.

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