Book Review: Modern Homebrew Recipes by Gordon Strong

Modern Homebrew Recipes is the book homebrewers have been waiting for. At least it’s the book that this homebrewer has been waiting for! Click that link to go buy it now or keep reading to find out why I think it’s so great.

Modern Homebrew Recipes by Gordon Strong

Most homebrew books aim at first timers. They give you a background on beer with a short history, a few styles, and info on ingredients. Then the majority of the book covers the processes of brewing, fermenting, and bottling. There are often a few recipes sprinkled throughout and a section of recipes at the end, but that’s where it ends, they don’t provide a huge resource for moving forward once you’ve learned the process.

The author of Modern Homebrew Recipes, Gordon Strong, isn’t just another beer writer he is renowned in the world of homebrewing. He’s won the National Homebrew Competition Ninkasi Award, the top honor in homebrew competitions, three times! He’s the president of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) as well as its highest ranking member. He’s also responsible for doing most of the writing on the BJCP style guidelines. Plus this isn’t his first book since Brewing Better Beer: Master Lessons for Advanced Homebrewers came out in 2011. Even cooler for us Cincinnatians is that he lives a short ride up the 75 in the Dayton area. All of which is to say he knows his shit and you can trust his recipes.

Gordon Strong dispenses with the majority of that intro to homebrewing business in most books. There are about twenty pages given to the brewing process which take up so much of every other book on homebrewing. This section also contains a few advanced techniques, but only brief introductions to give you an idea of what they are. What comes next is awesome, it’s Gordon’s equipment and processes. It’s a peek into the kitchen of a master chef. But that’s it, 40 some pages total on how to brew. If you don’t know how to brew yet then this book isn’t for you and you should check out How to Brew or The Homebrewer’s Companion.

Strong follows that brief into to brewing with a section on how to handle recipes. This focuses on recipe formulation, interpretation, adaptation, and finally ingredient substitution. Only fifteen or so pages are spent here, but the information provided is crucial for dealing with the recipes in this book as well as any recipes you find elsewhere.

I keep mentioning how many pages these sections are taking up because the number of pages taken up with the core of the book is highly impressive, two hundred and twenty-one pages of recipes. These aren’t just random recipes, these are Gordon’s recipes that he actually brews unchanged from how he brews them. It’s broken down into different chapters lumping together generally related recipes with some awesome subtitles:

  • IPA: The modern craft beer favorite
  • Everyday Beers: For when you’re having more than one
  • Strong Ales: For when you’re not
  • Dark Beers: Come to the dark side
  • Lagers: The big chill
  • Belgian Favorites: Yes, all of them are my favorites
  • Spiced Beers: Seasonal specialties
  • Experimental: Styles, what styles?

These chapters aren’t packed with only recipes though. It’s not just a list of ingredients. Each recipe starts with a blurb from Gordon Strong on what inspired this beer, or some history about it and how it’s changed over time. Then you get the target style followed by a description of the finished product. Next up comes critical stats like the ABV, IBU, OG, FG, and SRM. Now we hit the list of ingredients that you’re used to seeing. Water treatment, any special mash techniques, the mash rests, kettle volume, boil length, final volume, and fermentation temperature fill up the next section. Each recipe is then finished out with a sensory description, Gordon’s own formulation notes, and potential variations you could try. Like I said, we’re getting a heck of a lot more than a list of ingredients here!

Kitchens have been overflowing with cookbooks full of food recipes for years and now homebrewers finally have a cookbook full of beer recipes. Sure, there are plenty of sites on the internet with homebrew recipes, but they rarely provide info beyond the basics and sometimes you can’t be sure how they turned out. None of that is a concern here since these are all recipes from a master homebrewer. Whether you’re new to brewing or an old hat I recommend picking up Modern Homebrew Recipes and keeping it handy as a great resource for what to brew next!

FULL DISCLOSURE: I received a review copy of this book from the publishers. To our readers, and any companies interested in sending samples. Sending samples does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it. I do promise to give it a fair and honest review and publish a post about your product as time allows.

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