Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Useful Brewing Resources

This post will be a list of resources I've found useful in learning to brew better beer.  It is intended to be more personal than comprehensive.  Hopefully it will be updated regularly!

[Work in Progress!]

Process and Technique


Brew in a Bag

  • This forum is where I learnt how to brew in this way.  I started off using an earlier version of their calculator, then switched to BeerSmith before the new one was released, and I haven't had time to play with the new version.  But I would bet its the best BIAB brew software available.
  • Beersmith podcast with Pat Hollingdale, one of the people behind the above forum.
  • Brewing TV episode on BIAB.


  • There’s an interesting talk by Matt Brynildson from Firestone Walker about blending beers in the middle of this episode of the Session.
  • Interviews with Lauren and Eric Salazar from New Belgium: particularly good on their sour beers.  They also discuss it together in this interview from Cellarmanship.

Kinds of Beer


Sour, Farmhouse, and Wild Brewing

Chad Yakobson

This guy is very knowledgeable about brettanomyces and wild brewing; and what's more, he seems to be equally generous with his time and knowledge.  His website has lots of useful data regarding brewing with brettanomyces, including a copy of his dissertation, Pure Culture Fermentation Characteristics of Brettanomyces Yeast Species and Their Use in the Brewing IndustryThis set of slides provides a nice summary of some of the results in the dissertation, and is relatively easy to decipher even if you do not have a background in brewing science (I certainly don't).
His various interviews and talks are also worth tracking down.  The Sunday Session interview he did is full of useful information about brewing with brettanomyces, and he talks a bit about the beers he's been brewing at his new project: Crooked Stave.  The videos of his presentation at Music City Brew Off contain still more helpful advice.  I've embedded the first one on the right.
A few other links worth checking out:

The Mad Fermentationist

Another knowledgeable and generous home-brewer.  His website is a wonderful resource: a good source for brewing information and general inspiration when it comes to all kinds of fermentations, but particularly for sour beer.  I recommend this post about brewing sour beers at home.  But it will soon be superseded by his book, which I'm very excited about.  He posts regularly on the HBT Lambic & Wild Brewing forum as Oldsock, and I've learnt a lot from reading his posts.  He has also done a number of interviews with Basic Brewing Radio.  Here are direct audio links to interviews on brewing saisons, Berliner Weisse, off-beat yeast, and solera brewing (1 and 2).  He shows up in a few other episodes as well, and also on a few episodes of the BeerSmith podcast.  Finally, he is also associated with Modern Times Beer.

Vinnie Cilurzo

I learnt a great deal from Vinnie's interviews and presentations when I started brewing sour beers.  Here's a few of the best:
  • Vinnie discusses his belgian-style beers on the Sunday Session.
  • Another Sunday Session interview which deals explicitly with the way Russian River ferments their sour beers.
  • This episode of the Sunday Session includes a presentation by Vinnie.  I listened to this several times before brewing my first sour beers.
  • I've embedded an interview by More Beer in which Vinnie discusses sour beers.  This is part four of a longer interview.

Brewing Network

I learnt a lot from these podcasts when I first started brewing, particularly Brew Strong and Can You Brew It (my interest in both shows has dwindled these days).  The Sunday Session also has some great interviews, but I usually fast forward through the rest of it.  Here are some personal favourites:
  • Mike Mraz tackles Jolly Pumpkin's Bam Biere and Dark Dawn for CYBI.  The interviews with Ron Jeffries are great---yet another knowledagble and generous brewer!  I particularly recommend the Bam Biere episode for people looking to brew an easy first sour beer.
  • Great interview with the guys from Jester King Brewery.  Among other things, they discuss blending old sour beer with fresh hoppy beer.  Expect a post on this soon!
  • Dave Marliave from Flat Tail Brewing discusses some interesting techniques for sour beers (episode degenerates somewhat mid-interview, but then recovers).  I started a topic on HBT about this.
  • Not really about sours, but this episode with Shea Comfort is one of the best interviews they've done.  Just full of information.  Topics discussed include using wine yeast in fermentation, and using oak in beer.
  • There are many more worth listening to. 

BeerSmith Podcast

Another informative brewing podcast.  Lots of great episodes on a variety of topics, but for sour and wild brewing I recommend the following:

Message Boards

I'm constantly impressed by how friendly and helpful home brew message boards are.  Here are some relevant resources:
  • Lambic & Wild Brewing forum on HomeBrewTalk.  I post under the username "metic".
  • The Burgundian Babble Belt homebrew board seems fairly quiet these days, but the archives are all available and worth reading through.  In some ways, its part of the story of people discovering and experimenting with brett-only fermentations.  You can find early posts by Chad Yakobson of Crooked Stave, Al Buck of East Coast Yeast, and Michael Tonsemeire (The Mad Fermentationist).  There are also transcripts of tasting sessions and swaps with people like Peter Bouckaert from New Belgium, and Tomme Arthur from Lost Abbey. 

Miscellaneous Information and Inspiration

  • Sour Beer episode from Brewing TV.  This was what made me start exploring sour beers!
  • An interview with one of my favourite brewers and beer writers, Yvan de Baets, along with his brewing partner Bernard Leboucq, both from Brasserie De La Senne.
  • An interview with Ron Jeffries of Jolly Pumpkin.
  • Basic Brewing Radio interview with Cantillon's Jean van Roy (direct audio).  Particularly interesting because he discusses some of the difficulties homebrewers might have in adapting Cantillon's cooling and inoculation methods.

Session Beer

Not sure how I feel about the name, but I suppose it fits the kind of beers I grew up drinking in the U.K. and still love to brew.



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