Good works of literature can be enlightening experiences. Books on beer are no different as far as I’m concerned. When I got accepted into Siebel for this fall, they sent me a list of books to read in order to get ready for their high-level, fast paced diploma program. The alternative recommendation was to take their short prep course for another three grand. Hmm, you might see why I chose the books. Ever wonder what a professional brewing school recommends to its students? Here we go.
First up is Technology Brewing And Malting (3rd International Edition) by Wolfgang Kunze. This is one mother of a brewing textbook: over 900 pages translated from German. I forgot to put Earth Balance on my toast the other morning. This book is dryer. Despite not being the most fun read, Technology is nonetheless a massive brewing resource. Ever wonder the minutiae of mashing peramaters such as temperature, pH, thickness, ion content, and probably something that I still can’t pronounce? Want to know all the pros and cons of mashing in at different temperatures? The secret to happy yeast? How different milling, and filtration systems work? It’s all here. ALL OF IT. Yes, there are almost 200 pages on packaging beer, in case you were wondering. I still have yet to finish this bad boy, but this is much more a technical reference than something that you just sit down with and power through. It tackles brewing on both an industrial and smaller scale, with a chapter dedicated completely to brewpubs and homebrewers. The translation is sometimes awkward, and some tables are still in German, but I find it relatively easy to understand on the whole. Technical stuff usually seems to translate well, though some malt and hop stuff is a little more centered on Germany and less applicable to American brewers than I would like. On the whole, this might not be worth the 200 dollars that it costs for most brewers out there (its a fat, hard cover book). But if you really want to get technical about how larger scale brewing works, and really get into the science of things, this is something that you should look into. This one can be purchased through Siebel.
Next up is the Practical Handbook For The Specialty Brewer from the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, which comes in three volumes: Raw Materials and Brewhouse Operations, Fermentation, Cellaring, and Packaging Operations, and Brewing Engineering and Plant Operations. I’m now almost done with the first volume, and have to say that it’s a much less demanding read than Technology. All three are edited by Karl Ockert from the Bridgeport Brewing Company, and the chapters are written by various industry people such as Paul Kramer from Rahr Malting, Larry Sidor, brewmaster at Deschutes, Dan Carey from New Glarus, and Ken Grossman from Sierra Nevada. The handbooks are much more about practical issues for smaller brewing operations. While some stuff almost seems elementary and doesn’t go very deep (mashing in general doesn’t address various approaches and parameters in very much depth), there is still a huge amount of useful information for brewers of all levels. The sections on raw materials are more specific to what American brewers are likely to see, but I did find the water chemistry section to pale in comparison to even Palmer’s How To Brew. I have yet to dive into the second and third volumes, so therre is still plenty of room for redemption. At 50 dollars each or 130 dollars for the whole set, they are a little more affordable than Technology Malting And Brewing, and at this point seem perhaps more immediately useful for the brewer that is looking to get aquainted with all the aspects of the professional brewery. I’ll report back when I finish the set. You can purchase them through The MBAA at www.mbaa.com.
Well, I have just under two months to finish these so I’d better get to it. If you’re wondering why I haven’t been writing lately, blame these books. Hopefully I’ll have time to get some more style and travel stuff up soon (I’m going to portland in a week so I at least guarantee at articel on that).