Beer Brewing for Everyone by Michael Hlatky
Full Disclosure: For all you legal eagles and such, this book was sent to me a number of months ago by a media person from Schiffer Publishing Ltd., as a review book. Soon after, I inked a contract with the same publisher to write a book that is due in a couple of years. The opinions in the following are as unbiased as can be achieved after over thirty years following the microbrewing and home-brewing culture. End of disclosure statement.
Now that is done and the book can be discussed.
First of all the book itself is a nicely designed package. The cover, paper-weight and illustrations are a pleasure to peruse and even more informative when taken in context of the copy. Be advised that this book was published originally in Germany as Bierbrauen fur Jedermann by Leopold Stocker Verlag, Graz – Stuttgart (2011) and translated by Omicron Language Solutions LLC.
I mention the above because, for the readers in the United States, from the first sentence through the rest of the book, the writing may seem a bit stilted. My reading-ear immediately heard the voice of Erich Von Stroheim or perhaps Hardy Kruger. The Teutonic tone continues into the context that the author places home-brewing. The explanation of German laws and regulations might leave United States readers a bit confused. Our neighbors from the north will at least be able to decipher the weights and measures that are in liters and kilos. U.S. folks will have to drag out calculator applications and work it out that way.
The history of beer and the chapters on ingredients are also slanted to the European market. However, the chapter on Water is, or should be, important to any home-brewer. The knowledge of the chemical content of the water supply cannot be over-emphasized.
A brief tour through commercial brewing procedures is informative and nicely terse.
Most of the rest of the book is dedicated to the process of brewing a basic home-brewed beer. The instructions are precise in a way that is both informative and carefully directed. However, once again some of the techniques are euro-centric and might be confusing to U.S. folks. By the way, half-way through these chapters it was not a distraction though. In fact it was like visiting with a German friend who, although enthusiastic, was trying his best to be entertaining as well as informative. I know I miss half his references but take them in anyway.
Once you learn the “Why” as well as the “How” of brewing-at-home it is time to try some of the various recipes. The recipes offered represent the major styles and well-known European brews. There are a few “clone” recipes included. The charts and ingredient lists are informative and also precise.
Next to last there is a section explaining the United States Federal regulations in a brief but informative context and finally, the obligatory Glossary and interesting bibliography.
This book is something that will interest United States readers. It would be a very good resource book for beginning and experienced home-brewers to have as a “second opinion” reference along with Charlie Papazian’s book and perhaps, if you can find it, Fred Eckhardt’s book.
Hlatky, Michael. Beer Brewing for Everyone. Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Atglen, PA (2013)