It's twelve years since Tess and Mark Szamatulski published the first edition of Clone Brews, a slim volume containing detailed instructions on how to recreate 150 different beers from around the world. The book was a hit with homebrewers, with its combination of clear, concise instructions and the enhancement of extract recipes with minimash and all-grain options. The end results of recipes, anecdotally speaking, tend not to be exact replicas of the beer being copied, but it's a useful book for when you want to make a beer in a particular style and you know of a commercial example.
Now, the publishers have released a revised and expanded edition of the book, incorporating even more clonable beers.
Despite its name, this book by ICB’s own Les Howarth is not a recipe book. It says as much on the back cover: “It is a database of ingredient information that should assist the home or craft brewer in creating their own recipes in order to replicate commercial beers…”
What Les has done here is trawl through all of the recipe books and podcasts you might look to if you want to clone a commercial beer and extracted the ingredient information. He is completely up front about this and lists the source of the ingredient information with every beer listed.
There's no shortage of reference books about beer on the market, from the wordy official guides published by the house of CAMRA to the glossy encyclopedia-style tomes that come from the likes of Dorling Kindersley, more often than not bearing the name of the late Michael Jackson on the cover. The former can tend towards being stuffily prescriptive while the latter are generally so broadly pitched that there's very little for the beer enthusiast to chew on. The amount of free beer information on the Internet these days makes it difficult to justify shelling out cash on a beer reference book, other than for the look and feel of the thing. UK beer writer Ben McFarland has attempted to bridge this gap by creating a lavishly illustrated guide to world beer that also highlights the real quality beers and breweries of which those in the know speak reverentially.
World's Best Beers is subtitled One Thousand Craft Brews From Cask To Glass in the US, and 1000 Unmissable Brews from Portland to Prague in Europe. With opening pages decorated with Orval and Aventinus, you know you're in the hands of an genuine enthusiast.
No beer aficionado needs to be told what India Pale Ale is -- the style is brewed anywhere there's a market of drinkers who really care about what's in the glass in front of them. American craft brewers have made it their own, with their signature bitter fruity hops and ever-increasing levels of alcohol. And the story of the style, how it was exported from Britain to India, maturing on the long voyage around the Cape, is inscribed on almost every IPA label. In Hops & Glory, Pete Brown not only gives the full intriguing story of India Pale Ale and its place in the building of the British Empire, but also sets out to recreate the journey from Burton-on-Trent to Calcutta with a cask of authentic IPA.
The book divides roughly between these two stories: on the one hand we have the history of the British in India, how their beer became an intrinsic part of their lifestyle. And on the other there's the tale of what happens when one man decides in the pub that he will take some IPA from the brewery in Burton to India by sea, to taste firsthand the effect of the journey on the beer. It is, in many ways, a book of discoveries. Pete gives us never-before-seen insights into British beer history and the mythology around IPA, and tells us candidly the things he discovers about himself on his epic voyage, including just what it's like to get cabin fever and skirt the edges of sanity.
Earlier this year I made my first trip to Brussels. I didn't have a guidebook, although fellow ICBers had made some great suggestions that I had fully intended following up. As it turns out, I ended up having the next best thing to a guide book: Joe Stange. Joe agreed to meet me while he was literally in the process of taking photos to finish the book he co-wrote with Belgian brewer Yvan de Baets, Around Brussels in 80 Beers. Joe took me on a whirlwind tour of some of the places the book mentions, so I thought I'd be well prepared to use these visits as a benchmark for what is described in the book.