A few weeks ago, I mentioned the many resources available to home-brewers. However, I tend to be a bit old-fashioned with my research material and prefer to have a good reference book, or five, handy in the house.
This week, I want to discuss a few gems every home-brewer should have in his home library.
Charlie Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Homebrewing is often recommended to most home-brewers as a starting point.
It was first published in 1984 and last revised in 2003, and I feel that ingredients, equipment and techniques have changed enough in the past 30 years that some of the advice in the book comes across as dated.
A much better book for both beginners and advanced home-brewers is John Palmer’s How to Brew. This book covers nearly the entire range of home-brewing — from the first simple malt-extract batches to partial mashing and then all-grain brewing.
Advanced topics are discussed, such as the science behind mashing, equipment selection and some descriptions of equipment you can make yourself.
Even better, the book is available online for free at www.howtobrew.com.
If you decide to move beyond pre-made homebrew kits, then Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels is the best place to start. Whether you want to enter your beers in competitions or just enjoy them at home, this book gives complete descriptions of many common styles of beer, as well as information on the hops, malt, yeast and water profiles needed to make them.
The book also includes general brewing knowledge and calculations to help you determine the strength and color of your beer, how much water to use, etc.
An excellent companion to Daniels’ book is Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer (the author of How to Brew, mentioned above. In the world of brewing books, you tend to see a lot of the same names over and over).
Most people will be drawn to the award-winning recipes in this book.
These are great not just for those who want to follow the recipe, but they also serve as a great jumping-off point for your own experimentation.
Also, this book includes a very useful hop guide that I find myself referring to quite frequently. For advanced home-brewers, this book lists the ideal fermentation temperature for many styles of beer.
This can prevent you from brewing some disappointing — or even spoiled — batches of beer.
For the less technically inclined out there, I recommend Steve Hindy and Tom Potter’s Beer School, an autobiographical novel by the founders of The Brooklyn Brewery.
If you want to read about starting a craft brewery in the 1980s, or discover out how the owners had to fend off the mob, this is the book for you.
You may even be inspired, as I was, to start your own brewery.
Brewer’s Note: Time didn’t permit including this last week, but pastry chef Justin Relkin from Supper, at 926 South St., was kind enough to send a delicious stout cake recipe.
I’ve put it at the end of this column. I recommend experimenting with different beers.
Let me know what you try and how it comes out.
Tim Patton is a Fishtown resident, beer aficionado and brewer. His column is dedicated to showcasing everything that is great about enjoying beer in the riverwards. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
8 oz. dark stout/porter
1 cup molasses
1.5 tsp. baking soda
Bring to a boil in a large pot and set aside to cool.
1/2 tsp each: cardamom, nutmeg, clove
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. ginger
2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup oil
1 small piece fresh ginger, grated
Whisk together. Add cooled beer/molasses mixture. Pour over sifted dry ingredients. Batter will be very loose. Bake in a greased 9x5” loaf pan or small bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly dry. Cool completely.