The Best Books for Home Brewing Sour and Wild Ales

2 Dec

the bruery oude tart barrels

So you’ve gotten through the invaluable essentials such as The Joy of Home Brewing and have Designing Great Beers as your well-worn reference and you’re asking, “Gee, beer is really delicious, fun to make too!  I wonder how I can expand my expertise in the craft.”  What better way than by trying your hand at brewing a new and increasingly popular style?  Simply consult the list below for everything you need to get started harnessing wild yeast and to brew your very own sour ales.

Brew it old school

Before the human race knew of the existence of yeast, people believed fermentation was a gracious act of God, bestowed upon beer and wine as a small gift to help us forget how awful things have been since Eve at that apple.  Brewers would leave their fermentation tanks open which would allow whatever wild yeast was floating around to enter the wort.  This would yield inconsistent results from beer to beer, but what the hell, it’s alcohol right?  Well nowadays, brewers are again allowing wild yeast into their beer with the intention of creating something similar to what our ancestors enjoyed thousands of years ago.  If you’re considering experimenting with wild yeasts to create your own sour beers, these reads will teach you how to infect your beer with only the bacteria you want.

Brew Like a Monk



“Make a distinctive beer that is expressive rather than imitative, and dedicate yourself to it as if there is nothing else in life.”

Not for the beginning homebrewer, Brew Like a Monk describes just what exactly those solitary brewers of God were up to in their monasteries, explaining the processes used by monks in Europe for hundreds of years.  The book also compares traditional Belgian brew traditions with their modern American replicas.






American Sour Beers

American Sour Beers


American Sour Ales goes through the techniques and processes used by the most prominent American Sour brewers style by style.  It documents the techniques that have brought success to many commercial sour brewers and is the truly comprehensive guide to home brewing sours, there’s even a chapter on cooking and pairing food with sour ales.  Pucker up.






Wild Brews



Wild Brews features a lot of information regarding the history of wild fermentation, namely in Belgium by sequestered monks.  There are 10 recipes contained within but due to the unpredictability of wild yeasts, a home brewer is likely to find it very difficult to duplicate a specific beer.  Still, this book is a good option for someone interested in learning how to harness the delicious power of wild yeast.










Three Bears Brown Ale

20 May


This big brown ale features Cascade, Centennial and Northern Brewer hops with a big dose of Chocolate and Crystal malt.  Three Bears was brewed by steeping the grains extra hot, fermenting extra cold, and turning out just right.  Brewed by Travis Neufeld in Napa Valley California.

Bonkers Pale Ale

4 Nov

Bonkers Pale Ale

Brewed for an indian summer’s afternoon, Bonkers is an easy drinking pale ale with a handful of Northwest hops added late in the boil that gives plenty of hop character without the bitterness.  Smooth and drinkable, it’s a pale ale that can be enjoyed by everyone.  The label features our 3 month old kitten Bonkers who joined our family while the beer was fermenting and is thusly immortalized as a homebrew mascot.

Outdoor Amber

22 Sep

Malty yet complex, Outdoor Amber is a full flavored and rather sweet ale that is slightly offset by a subtle earthy hop note

Malty yet complex, Outdoor Amber is a full flavored and rather sweet ale that is slightly offset by a subtle earthy hop note

My 4th homebrew turned out to be pretty decent.  Outdoor Amber is a pretty sweet but still complex ale that has a distinct but subtle hop character to balance it (if I do say so myself).  I gave away several bottles of it and nearly everyone said they loved it which is an improvement over previous homebrew attempts.  The yeast didn’t fully convert all the sugar to alcohol so the residual sugar gives a rich caramel flavor.  Being my first beer with new equipment in a new location, I can’t complain, and I’m really excited for the next one.

SF Beer Week 2013

11 Feb

sf beer week 2013

We’re in the heart of SF Beer Week 2013 which runs from February 8 – 17, so if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the bay area and thirsty for a beer, head to one (or two) of the plethora of outstanding craft beer events dotting Northern California from Monterrey to Santa Rosa including, of course, San Francisco and the East Bay.  Head over to the official website to check out their super easy-to-use Google Maps overlay with info about every event and links to buying admission online.  We’re especially excited to see Hangar 24 hosting two events in honor of their recent expansion into Northern California.  With everything from 4-course fine dining with beer pairing to live music and food trucks, SF Beer Week is the best way to experience the craft beer revolution of today.

The Top 10 Books about Beer and Brewing

18 Jan

Here’s a much more definitive top-10 list of the best books about beer and brewing.

1. How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time 

 how to brew beer best books

 A quintessential book that should be in the library of any homebrewer from novice to expert.  How to Brew is as easy to read as it is informative and will no doubt leave you with everything you need to know to brew any style of beer in any way.


Happy Brew Year!

5 Jan

brewing and beer top 10 beers 2012

May your 2013 be filled to the brim with golden, delicious, refreshing proof that God wants us to be hoppy happy!

Here’s my personal top 10 craft beers of 2012:

  • Hangar 24 Helles Lager – now in cans!
  • Stone 16th Anniversary IPA
  • Fort George Sunrise OPA
  • Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
  • Lagunitas Brown Shugga’
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
  • Anchor Steam Holiday Porter
  • Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
  • Hangar 24 Double IPA
  • Maui Brewing Coconut Porter

Beer Lover’s New England by Norman Miller

5 Aug

beer lovers new england book

There are few places in the United States that offer a concentration of as many quality craft beer choices as New England.  So if you’re planning a beer vacation or live in the area and want to explore your corner of the craft beer revolution, pick up Beer Lover’s New England, a guide to every brewery, brewpub, and craft beer bar in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island.  Written by “The Beer Nut”, a Daily News columnist who has been writing about craft beer for 6 years, the book profiles every location in detail including his top picks at each place as well as food pairings, homebrew recipes, and more.  Beer Lover’s New England is the complete guide to everything craft beer in the upper Northeast.

IPA Day 2012

1 Aug

ipa-day-#ipaday logo

Unite craft beer drinkers! For Thursday August 2 is the second annual IPA Day.  Not that any of us need an excuse to drink an India Pale Ale, but this young national holiday is gaining popularity and is a great time to look for special events at your local brewery or bottle shop.  To see what’s going on near you, head over to the Craft Beer Calendar.  You can also add an event that you’re hosting to their site for extra exposure.  Here’s the official word from the IPADay website:

IPA Day is not the brainchild of a corporate marketing machine, nor is it meant to serve any particular beer brand. IPA Day is [an] opportunity for all breweries, bloggers, businesses and consumers to connect and share their love of craft beer. It is an opportunity for the entire craft beer culture to combine forces and advocate craft beer through increased education and global awareness.

Getting involved is easy; the only requirements are an appreciation for great beer and the will to spread the word. Anyone can participate by enjoying IPA with friends, making some noise online with the #IPADay hashtag, and showing the world that craft beer is more than a trend.


BrewDog ‘Never Mind The Anabolics’ IPA

29 Jul

never mind the anabolics ipa brewdog

With the Olympic games grabbing attention around the world, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of our shared interest in sports by marketing products related to the iconic event.  Craft beer would be no exception, but the Olympic committee has recently cracked down against the use of its logo by non-approved companies leaving all Olympic beer advertising to the mega-breweries.  Fortunately, several companies are opposing the sanction with a sort of anti-Olympic marketing campaign.  A perfect example is expressed by Scotland-based brewery BrewDog, which has created a craft brew that Olympic athletes are not allowed to drink.  Never Mind the Anabolics IPA is a craft brew that is full of supplements that would disqualify someone from participating in the Olympics: creatine, guarana, lycii berries, kola nut, Gingko, matcha tea and maca powder can be found in the ale and supposedly the first batch was even brewed with steroids but is not available for sale.  The off the wall brew fits with the unusual nature of the company which is self-described as “a post-Punk apocalyptic mother fu*ker of a craft brewery”.  For more information, follow the link to their website.