Review of The Complete Practical Brewer reprint
by Jeff Renner (from the Homebrew Digest)
Brewers and beer history fans Several months ago, list member Glenn Raudins posted a notice here that he was republishing the 1852 book "The Complete Practical Brewer"* at a pre-publication savings. It sounded interesting, so I went to his web site http://www.raudins.com/BrewBooks/ and decided to buy it. It arrived a couple of months ago and I've had ample time to read it. *(The complete title is "The Complete Practical Brewer; or, Plain, accurate and thorough instructions in the art of brewing ale, beer, and porter; including the process of making Bavarian beer; also all the small beers, such as root-beer, ginger pop, sarsaparilla-beer, mead, spruce-beer, etc. etc adapted to the use of public brewers and private families, or those who may wish to brew on a small scale. With numerous illustrations. By M. L. Byrn, M.D. graduate of the University of the City of New York; author of "Detection of Fraud and Protection of Health," etc.etc.") I wholeheartedly recommend this book. If you are interested in how beer was brewed in the mid 19th century, you will want this book. If you are interested in the history of applied technology, you will want this book. If you like nice books, you will want it. First, let me describe it physically. It is a handsome book, about 6"x9", 199 pages, printed on heavy acid free stock, and solidly bound with bonded leather covers. The type and illustrations is clean and very legible. I found that Glenn scanned the original book with OCR, then proof-read it all, making the usual adjustments required with still somewhat error-prone OCR, and cleaned up the whole thing. He chose fonts that matched the original type, so it has an historically accurate look but is brand new. The original illustrations of kilns, mashing machines, etc., are all reproduced very clearly. The contents include chapters on raw materials, mashing, descriptions of beer and ale, the Scotch and English systems of brewing ale, the brewing of porter, small scale brewing methods for "brewers in the interior of the states" (micro-breweries?),and descriptions of regional beers in England and Europe, including Bavarian beer. Among the historically interesting passages is this: "Ale and Beer - These two words, in Great Britain and this country, are applied to two liquors obtained by fermentation from the malt of barley; but they differ from each other in several particulars. Ale is light-colored, brisk, and sweetish, or at least free from bitter; while beer is dark colored, bitter, and much less brisk. What is called porter, in England, is a species of beer; and the term porter at present signifies what was formerly called strong beer. The original difference between these two liquids was owing to the malt from which they were prepared. Ale malt was dried at a very low heat, and consequently was of a pale colour; while beer or porter malt was dried at a higher temperature, and had of consequence acquired a brown color." This is certainly a different perspective from the modern one. Here's a recipe for Welsh ale. "This is a richly flavoured and luscious ale, and many persons are quite fond of it. Process 72 bushels of pale malt 70 pounds of hops 20 pounds of best brown sugar 2 pounds of grains of paradise" The author then gives brewing instructions. I found the inclusion of grains of paradise fascinating. This is my "secret spice" for my ginger wit beer. For a fuller description of the book, see the web site. I am hoping that Glenn finds the publishing of this book successful enough that he will go ahead with his plans to publish other historic brewing and distilling books. I understand upcoming would be M.L. Byrn's "The Complete Practical Distiller" from the late 1800's, the companion to the brewing book. Jeff - -- Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA, JeffRenner@comcast.net "One never knows, do one?" Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943
If after reading Jeff's glowing review, you would like to order, simply Click Here to go to the order page.