Reviewed: Craft Brew

Craft Brew: 50 Homebrew Recipes from the World’s Best Craft Breweries

By Euan Ferguson

Frances Lincoln (2016)

Craft Beer coverFor those homebrewers eager to duplicate notable beers from some of the best breweries around the globe, London beer writer Euan Ferguson serves up Craft Brew: 50 Homebrew Recipes from the World’s Best Breweries, published by Frances Lincoln and available on May 3 of this year.

As its name suggests, the book provides 50 recipes for the homebrewer to explore, and having spent a little time within these pages, I, for one, am ready to fire up the kettle. With a blend of handsome illustrations and photographs, the book is attractive. As one might expect, Ferguson offers a rundown of necessary equipment, ingredients, and the process of brewing in his effort to guide the reader to being not only a craft beer drinker but also a craft beer brewer (if they’re not already).

But not before he lays down a definition of “craft beer” itself. Follow the beerosphere even a little bit online, and you’ll find that controversy over the word craft is persistent. I like Ferguson’s take, which is less about ingredients and ownership and more about “values over volume,” “spirit over finance,” and “soul over cynicism.”

Recipes come from a host of heavy hitters, including Brooklyn, Brewdog, Beavertown, and The Bruery, as well as many other wonderful breweries that don’t start with the letter B. Just knowing you’re acquiring methods and madness from the likes of Vinnie Cilurzo, Matt Brynildson, and Chad Yakobson makes you know you’re on the road to better brewing–a very exciting feeling indeed.

However, while Cilurzo offers up the recipe for Russian River Brewing Company’s Ron Mexico, we can’t easily brew it, because it utilizes experimental hop HBC 438, which may be tough to come by. No matter, learning Cilurzo’s (and everyone else’s, for that matter) techniques is invaluable, and can be applied to any hop choice.

The recipes were divided into five sections, and herein lies my only real gripe for the book. I know categorizing beer styles is no easy business, but grouping the entire world of lagers with pale ales and IPAs struck me as odd. So did the final chapter which was entitled “Brown, Belgian, Bitter, and Strong.”

Weird as this may have seemed Ferguson provides both a table of contents and an index. So you can find what you’re looking for. Dig in; there are some real nuggets here.

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

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