Reviewed: Against All Hops

Against All Hops: Techniques and Philosophy for Creating Extraordinary Botanical Beers

By Butch Heilshorn

Page Street Publishing (2017)

Judging a book by its cover might allow for this book by Butch Heilshorn to earn an assessment of shirking hops. But that wouldn’t be true.

Heilshorn simply reminds us that all manner of botanicals were employed in bittering, balancing, and flavoring beer some 5,500 years before hops took over around 1500 AD. While Heilshorn enjoys a hoppy concoction where he brews at Earth Eagle Brewings in New Hampshire, he has also embraced all the possibilities that gruit (a brew that uses herbs or plants in place of hops for bitterness and flavor) has to offer.

Enter Against All Hops. Well¬†written and beautifully photographed, this book is encouraging, enlightening, and where appropriate, laced with warning–make sure you’re using appropriate amounts of correctly identified ingredients. In the worst case, the finished beer might be hallucinogenic or dangerous. Less dangerous but rightfully disappointing, a brewer might simply finish with bad-tasting gruit.

With a fun and flavorful ingredient gamut, Heilshorn provides base level guidance so readers may jump off his “paper diving board” at their own risk and reward.

Against All Hops utilizes a wide array of herbs, spices, flowers, shrooms, pig heads, and even hops (and much, much more) in this daring culinary adventure. At a loss for where to acquire the necessary ingredients? Heilshorn offers both advice on online vendors and the invitation to stray from the recipe as written.

As a brewer who respects tradition but views it also as a guide and not a jailer, this tome piqued my interest, and would make a solid addition to any experimental brewer’s book collection.

FTC disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher.

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