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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

on 6 May 2009
Upon opening the book and first glance the book is scarey. But then again it is not made to be a book of recipes for you to follow, this is for you to set your creative juices going and design a brand spanking new beer.

The book goes into great detail on the different types of beers and how to make them.. fruit, IPA, old ale, bitters, wheat etc. the different ingredients and their sub-catagories e.g Yeast and what the different kinds do/act like and the taste they contribute to giving. There are a lot of mathmatical calculations to understand also. The book though is clear and well written.

If you want recipes for different beers to try out, this is not a book for you.

If you are a beginner to the world of brewing, this is not for you... just yet.

If you have experience at brewing from ingredients (not the brewing kits) and want to create something that is truely yours, this book could be for you.
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on 26 July 2017
As previous reviewers have stated there is a lot of information in the second half of the book about American competition brewing in the different ale styles listed in the book but this can summarised in most instances to give a typical "starting" recipe for a particular style of ale.
I found the book very informative about the ingredients used in ales and have now a much better understanding of the build of a recipe.
I particularly found the history of the individual ale types interesting and informative as to how ale types have changed and developed over the centuries.
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on 16 October 2007
A phenomenal book for designing your own all grain recipes. Very easy to read as you can read just the chapter you need for brewing a specific type of beer and get some useful hints. Also it is highly recommended for European readers as the metric system is consequently used thorough the book.
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on 8 April 2017
In 2017 this book is still as valid as it was in 1998, and the only book which you will be coming back over and over again every time you brew a beer. All this is considering that you design your own recipes.

What this book is not:
- it is not a collection of ready recipes;
- it is not a step by step manual to brewing;

What this book is:
- It explains each ingredient (what it does to the beer, how it affects it, how it should be used etc);
- it explain beer's characteristics (colour, flavour, aroma, body etc);
- it provides methods for calculating the main beer parameters;
- it describes the typical parameters and ingredients for most of the beer styles, in a lot of detail.

This is a bible for every home brewer who intends to understand the brewing processes and design their own beers. Mine is slowly falling apart, but I cannot see myself stop using it any time soon.
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on 8 November 2008
This is an excellent book with much useful content and advice. However, it is let down in my opinion by the significant use of statistics from the American Homebrewers Association competitions. I am sure that AHA members brew some fantastic beers but are the ingredients they use in brews aimed at winning competitions really a reliable indication of what defines any given beer style? For example, in the discussion of ingredients used in English Pale Ales Table 16.10 shows that commercial brewers almost always use English hops with Goldings, Fuggles and Challenger dominating as might be expected. However, the statistics shown in Table 16.11 show that AHA members tended to use Goldings, Cascade or Fuggles in that order. The distinctive American Cascade doesn't get a mention in table 16.10 while Challenger isn't used at all in Table 16.11! This tendency to refer to AHA statistics renders a large part of this book irrelevent to me which is a great shame because the rest of the book is very good indeed.
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on 19 May 2009
First off, it should be pointed out that this book is concerned with creating recipes. It is not an introduction to home brewing and doesn't have any information on technique. If you're looking for an introduction to brewing, or an introduction to full mash brewing then John Palmer's book, How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Beer Right for the First Time, is excellent, and also free on the web.

This book is split in to two parts. The first part, which accounts for about a third of the book deals with brewing calculations. Things like how to estimate your mash efficiency, hitting your target OG, and calculations for minerals additions to your water.

This section is quite good. Some of the material is covered in other sources, for example John Palmer's book, but not all of it.

In part two, each chapter covers a beer style, and there are 14 chapters in total. (Some chapters sneak a couple of related styles in.) The styles covered are mostly British and German. Within each chapter there is a historical overview of the style, some discussion of where the style is now, and lots of statistics. The stats are things like how much of a given grain or hop is used on average in commercial examples of a style, and in beers which have made it to the second round in NHC beer competitions.

Part two is useful if you want to brew closely to style or for competitions, but I don't often use it. I'll try to explain why with an example. On the page 165 there is a table of the incidence and proportion of specialty Malts used in NHC second-round pale ales. In the table we see (among other things) that almost all of them use crystal malt, at up to about 20% of the grain bill but at an average of 8%. A few used Munich malt, but most didn't. Well, that's great to know, but what are we going to do with that information? Probably we'll use around 8% crystal in our pale ales, and leave Munich malt out. This is my problem, despite the book's title there is not really a lot here about designing recipes, it really just guides you towards the style average. I'm sure "average pale ale" is perfectly nice and will do very well in competition, but it's just not what I usually want to brew!

In summary, if you want a book which will help you brew some major styles closely, then this is the book for you, but when you want to go a little off-piste there isn't much here to help you. That said, there is an impressive amount of information in there, and even though I only consult it once in a while I'm glad it's there on my shelf.
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on 6 May 1998
Some people are content to brew with other people's recipes. For those that are not, this book represents a breakthrough, not only in brewing how-to manuals, but in the whole spectrum of manuals on creating things to ingest. This is not a beer cookbook, id est: pick one of these that looks good, buy these ingredients, mix like so, cook like so... This book takes the process one step farther: what do you want to brew? this is typically how that style is brewed. this is what is typically in that style of beer....and the general instructions necessary to create the recipe for the beer you want, with all sorts of reference information to help the brewer achieve that goal... A reasonable understanding of brewing is a pre-requisite. This book is for creating beers with particular characteristics with regard to the brewer's particular process. If there are any shortcomings, it would be that certain common styles, such as German Dark Lagers, Belgian Trappist Ales, are not addressed. But the design process laid out allows a brewer, even without the benefit of anything more that basic parameters, to make a beer that will approach those parameters. I own or have read several texts on homebrewing, this is the only book to which I refer when I set out to brew a batch of beer.
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on 6 May 2012
A valuable reference for any intermediate to advanced home brewer's library though the work is not without it's limitations, some relatively trivial, others more serious. The book essentially consists of two complimentary sections: the first is a scientifically and mathematically rigorous treatment of such brewing parameters as enzyme activity, colour, hop constituents, and water treatment. It is here that the book really shines, and the home brewer will doubtless find himself repeatedly referencing these chapters in formulating his recipes. The only complaint with this section is that, as another reviewer has noted, Daniels is not always consistent in translating his English units to metric. A forgivable, if occasionally annoying oversight.

The second part of the book consists of detailed histories, descriptions and formulations of particular beer styles. The historical background appears to have been meticulously researched, and one can find little here to complain of except, again, a certain inconsistency in the use of units, particularly measurements regarding gravity, which makes comparisons difficult. While for some, the use of NHC contest winners as paradigms of what a particular beer style should be like may seem a bit parochial, I suppose this is as good a yardstick as any, and will at least eliminate recipes that have strayed too far from accepted style parameters.

For myself, the most glaring omission was the complete absence of any mention of the Belgian styles. Since one of the few mentions of Belgian ale was to completely mischaracterise WYeast 1388, Belgian strong ale yeast, as an "Abbey style yeast", one can only conclude that Daniels' lack of familiarity with the the genre has led him, perhaps wisely, to avoid a topic on which he is not well-versed. Nonetheless, should the homebrewer choose to pair this book with Tim Webb's work, "Brew Like a Monk" dealing exclusively with the Belgian beers, he will find himself in possession of the perfect two-volume set detailing virtually all the major beer styles.
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on 30 June 2011
This book is wonderful, firstly it deals with successfully making beer such as the principals behind water chemistry and all of that which is useful but nothing new, the second section however is the truly wonderful bit. It spends a chapter on each variety of beer, detailing the history of its production, its changes over time and then gives a statistical analysis of the ingredients that go into it. This it turns out is quite powerful, it lets you know the upper limits of the style for certain malts and adjuncts so you can push boundaries while keeping the style true.

To be honest this book is worth it just for background on each style, an invaluable addition to the homebrewers shelf!
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on 24 May 2005
This is a great in depth book. It is not really for the occaisional home brewer though. Only for those with serious nerdity.
I would suggest it is for those who have progressed to all grain brewing or as a text book for the micro brewer.
It is full of top quality information.
A complete brewing formulation spreadsheet design is probably missing, though there are plenty of these on the web.
Watch out for the 'american gallon' linked weights an measures though.
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