By Wendy Tweten & Debbie Teashon
I’ve made frail attempts at gardening over the years, and in some cases, those attempts were pointed directly in the direction of my longtime homebrewing hobby. But I’ve not really found much success. Gardening for the Homebrewer by Wendy Tweten and Debbie Teashon has the potential to change that.
After covering gardening basics like tools, USDA Hardiness Zones, soil amendment, planting, care, and more, the book dives right into the plants, fruits, and herbs that would be specifically of interest to the homebrewer. Not only does it approach ingredients that might accent beer, but it also covers, wine, cider, perry, and spirits.
Within the discussion of each ingredient, the authors offer all the pertinent gardening details: soil type, light preference, water needs, spacing, pruning, harvesting, and more. There’s a lot of good advice. They list the appropriate use of the ingredient, whether in a gruit, wine, liqueur, or beer. While this usage suggestion might be helpful to a novice brewer/gardener for identifying a starting point, it’s done in a very broad way (advising use in “craft beer” rather than a specific style such as stout, tripel, Pilsner, or whatever). Moreover, there’s no indication of how (or how much) to use it.
Because, really, I’ve been wanting to make a beer with lemon verbena for quite some time. I’d be willing to grow it. But what next? I’d like this book to help with that. I might figure out how to grow that verbena, but I still have no idea about sorting my recipe. I’ll need to ask around…
While this is a gardening book and not a homebrewing book, I feel as though it would be a better book if it worked harder to connect these two hobbies. What beer would this herb work well in? How much do I use? How/when do I add it? Do you have a recipe to share to get me started on the right track? These, I believe, are legitimate questions a reader in search of a book of this ilk might ask.
This is a fun book to inspire ideas and maybe even reawaken my gumption for getting out and playing in the soil to further my hobby. It’s well written and packs beautiful photos and helpful gardening guidance, but I would like to see a little more meat on the brewing angle. If you brew and are looking to elevate your hobby by growing some of your own ingredients, you may find this book a good addition to your library. But know this, it doesn’t give you all the answers.
FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher.