The past 2 months have been utterly insane. Since Labor Day, Mr Wort Hog's been on the road every single week, and I've also been traveling over half that time. Most has been for work, but we did manage to squeeze in a 10-day vacation this month in Germany & the Czech Republic. I typically get some work done on my flights, but every once in a while I need to read something unrelated to my projects. What to read? Beer books, of course. (well, and sudoku puzzles....)
I've finished a couple of beer books this summer, dug into a third one, and have plans to start another once I'm done with that one.
First, Great Beers of Belgium by Michael Jackson. The book is sorted by Belgian sub-styles and includes information about brewers of these styles. Sounds kind of boring, I suppose, but the book really is fascinating. I have learned about how Drie Fontienen has made a business almost entirely on blending beer. Not brewing, but blending. This book also provides a fantastic comparison collection of beers by style, allowing you to pick a couple that you want to try and maybe compare, without having to do a ton of research. I found this book a lot of fun to read through at random, rather than front to back.
Second, Brewing with Wheat by Stan Hieronymous. It focuses on, of course, beer styles made with wheat including Hefeweizen, Wit, American wheat, wheat wine, and a few German styles you won't see very many places: Gose, Berliner weisse, Grätzer, and Lichtenheiner. (I'll be writing about the first and last of those rare styles in a few posts to come, by the way.) Among other things, I found very interesting the explanation of what causes the clove flavor in Hefeweizens and how to manipulate that. Finally, Boulevard's own Stephen Pauwels is quoted several times in the book, and talked to Hieronymous extensively about brewing with wheat. That right there is reason enough for us KC denizens to check this book out.
I haven't started this one yet, but for the science nerds out there, there's a new book by Chris White (of White Labs) and Jamil Zainasheff (homebrewer extraordinaire) called Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation. I am not sure I'll be diving into this one right away, but Mr Wort Hog sure was diggin it on our flight home. And no question why - I still think that the amount of influence that yeast contributes to beer is highly underrated and under-appreciated. Should be interesting and highly informative (if not a bit too chemistry-laden for my preference).
And finally, Farmhouse Ales by Phil Markowski (master brewer at Southampton). It focuses on the very broad category, explaining what characterizes "farmhouse". Fantastic resource, and really dispels some misunderstandings on the beers in this very broad category.
While you're keeping yourself busy reading, I'm going to get back to my blogging and tell you guys about our trip to Germany & CZ. It was a much-needed vacation, and I learned a ton about styles of beer that really aren't that well represented here (alt, dark czech lager, kolsch, etc). Stay tuned...