Saturday, 29 December 2012

Book Review: Papazians Books (AKA The Homebrewers Bible)

Over the years I have accumulated a fair number of books on homebrewing. A few of these are excellent, others are good, a few are not worth the paper they are printed on. I thought I'd use a little of the Christmas break to review them.

The first of these reviews is about two books - The (New) Complete Joy of Homebrewing & The Homebrewers Companion, both by Charlie Papazian. These are not so much two books, as they are two parts of a single, comprehensive book. For many brewers these books are the homebrewing bible - literally the old & new testaments of how to make beer.  Because they are now over 20 years old they are now a little out-of-date, but remain excellent books none-the-less. They have been, and remain, my chief homebrewing books.

The (New) Complete Joy of Homebrewing
General Brewing Knowledge: 4/5
How-To: 4/5
Beginning Brewing: 5/5
Intermediary Brewing: 5/5
Advanced Brewing: 4/5
Recipes: 3/5
Overall: 4.2/5
The Homebrewers Companion
General Brewing Knowledge: 4/5
How-To: 4/5
Beginning Brewing: 4/5
Intermediary Brewing: 5/5
Advanced Brewing: 5.5
Recipes: 4/5
Overall: 4.3/5

Charlies greatest strength is explaining things in a way anyone can understand. As such, these books are accessible to all brewers.  Technical jargon is kept to a minimum, complex subjects are broken down into manageable bits, and different ways of achieving the same end-point are often presented - thereby allowing a brewer to take the route most compatible with their comfort level and budget.

There are two downsides to these books. The first is their age - they are at (or over) 30 years old. As such, many of the methods and procedures described have since been modified and improved. The second downside is the recipes: they are dated and built around the poor-quality products available to brewers at the time the books were written (early 1980's). The recipes are not bad, but have a "homebrewed" taste to them.

Full Reviews Below

The (New) Complete Joy of HomebrewingIndigo/Amazon
This is the old testament of homebrewing - the book that for over 20 years was the go-to source for new add experienced brewers alike.  The book is setup perfectly to guide a brewer from beginner through to expert.  The book starts off with a  brief intro homebrewing, some basics (sanitation, yeast, fermentation, etc), then transitions to basic brewing (brewing from a kit), then to intermediary brewing (brewing with malt extract, hops & adjuncts), and ends with advanced brewing (all-grain brewing). This book will take a total newbie and guide them through the entirety of the brewing process, from basic to advanced brewing  everything in between.  Between the how-to chapters are recipes for each level of brewing, as well as basic brewing science & lore appropriate to the brewers experience.

The Homebrewers CompanionIndigo/Amazon
If the Complete Joy of Homebrewing is the old testament to homebrewing, then The Homebrewers Companion is the new testament. This book builds upon The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, expanding upon the brewing science and techniques described in the Complete Joy of Home Brewing, as well as adding additional topics such as kegging and yeast culturing.

As its name suggests, this book is a companion for the Complete Joy of Homebrewing, and is a valuable and interesting addition to the knowledge contained within Papazians first book.

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