Tomes that would be at home in any homebrewer's library

Think Beer…Drink Beer: Colum­nist Time Pat­ton looks at the books that are help­ful for homebrew­ers and shares a re­cipe for "Stout Cake"

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 at­to­

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 tim@stben­jamin­brew­

Stout Cake

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

Sift to­geth­er

3 eggs

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.

comments powered by Disqus