It’s easy to tell the difference between a stout and a Helles lager, but an imperial stout vs a stout vs a porter gets trickier. On top of that many brewers are equal thirds beer lover, mad scientist, and nerd. These things have led to the creation of the Standard Reference Method, abbreviated to SRM.
Part of the Stone media pack I received was the book The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and unbiased arrogance. The book is broken down into sections and I’ll follow that breakdown for my review.
The Nature of Beer
- Excellent break down of what beer is. They go into detail about the core ingredients of beer and what difference they make. Of interest to home brewers and beer nerds is a breakdown of many styles of hops with name, alpha acid level, and flavor profile. They do the same thing with malt and even various chemicals in water! This is a resource I’ll hold onto for a while and I’ll use it as a basis for an eventual blog post(s) on this subject.
Beer Through The Ages
- Re-read this section because it was that good. OK, so I wrote that note to myself while doing an initial draft of this post. Then I decided to keep it there because it’s true and everyone should do it. This is by far my favorite section of this book and is full of great info. There is a 4,000 year old recipe for beer which includes brewing instructions called “the Hymn to Ninkasi” from what is now Iraq, no word if anyone has recreated it recently (get on that Dogfish Head!). That kinda fact just blows my mind. From there they skip ahead a few thousand years and mainly focus on the results of ending prohibition. That is to say the crushing of small brewers and the following slow rise of craft beer ending in the world we have today.
A Story Called Stone
- This section is really for hard core Stone fans. It goes through the history, founding, problems, and fortune and fame of the company. There isn’t a lot of great info for people looking to start small breweries or small breweries looking to grow. It’s still a fun story and an interesting ride. Plus like the book as a whole it’s told in a very engaging way.
The Beers of Stone Brewing Co.
- This is a huge section with detailed info and stories on all of the Stone beers. At least all of them as of 2011, which is a lot! This includes all the anniversary and collaboration beers as well as the regular round up. Again it’s really for Stone super fans, but it’s also an excellent resource for anyone interested in Stone beers… like a blogger who is in the midst of writing posts about the beers.
Dr. Bill’s Beer How-Tos
- This is a rather quick section that talks about serving, cellaring, and pairing beer. For the serving section it focuses on choosing the correct glass and getting a good pour. Then a very cursory discussion on enjoying and tasting. The cellaring section just goes through what kind of styles are best to age and good places to store the beer. Pairing is just what you think, talks about why beer works great with food and what foods work with what beers. The how-to section is overall alright but I’d prefer the tasting section to be a bit more in depth. Also in aging it’d be nice if they said age X style for Y years to achieve optimal results. I realize this is very difficult for anyone to say, but still they could give it a shot.
Recipes from the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
- As I’ve stated many times I’m no foodie and I’m a horrible cook. As such this section was lost on me. There are about 15 or 20 recipes for food served at Stone’s brewpub. They look tasty but are pretty complex, at least from my perspective.
Home brew Recipes
- The first portion here is a nice overview of the entire home brew process. I wouldn’t use this as my only guide for my first brew but it gives you a decent idea of what you’re looking at and could be a good starting place. Following that is beer recipes for a somewhat odd collection of Stone beers. Pale ale, smoked porter, and levitation make sense then there are a scattering of anniversary’s and collaborations. But no arrogant bastard which I think may disappoint many people. Though as most home brewers already know that’s just a Google search away.
In the end this is a good general beer book and a fantastic book about Stone. If you know any Stone fanatics this would make a great present for them. If you’ve been reading my reviews you’ve seen that I’m no Stone super fan so the Stone-centric portions of this book only held mild interest for me. Despite that I thoroughly enjoyed the general info like the nature and history of beer. Regardless of all that it’s not a huge book so you can pop through it pretty quick unless you want to memorize all the recipes by heart or something.
FULL DISCLOSURE: This
beer book was sent to me for free by Stone. To our readers, and any breweries interested in sending me stuff, giving me free stuff impacts the review in only 1 way. That way is that I WILL review the beer whatever and I WILL write a blog post about it. Giving me free beer swag does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it or anything like that.
After reading Mike Morgan’s Over-The-Rhine: When Beer was King (here is my review) I became really interested in what other Cincinnati related beer history books were out there. I was honestly surprised to find that there were anymore at all, but after reading Timothy Holian’s Over The Barrel books I’m surprised there aren’t more. Cincinnati has a nearly 200 year old brewing history which at one time was the 4th largest brewing center in the country.
Holian had so much material he ended up writing 2 volume::
- Over The Barrel: The brewing history and beer culture of Cincinnati
- Volume One: 1800 -> Prohibition
- Volume Two – Prohibition -> 2001
The first book is much more enjoyable to me because it’s a crazy non-stop success story with a few failures here and there. The second book however tells the story of the slow painful death of Cincinnati’s breweries. It’s not that the second book is a bad book, just a bit depressing to read about how the big breweries crushed and squeezed the life out of the smaller regional breweries. Both books though are slightly painful to read. They are overflowing with various stats which often becomes tedious to read through and at least for me all the numbers begin to get mixed up. Holian also repeats things, summarizes, and then re-summarizes a great deal. If that all were cut out there might only be 1 book. On one hand this is nice because it reinforces a lot of the ideas… but it makes it even more work to read.
I don’t want to compare this to Mike Morgan’s book too much, but there aren’t many books on Cincinnati brewing history so I have little to compare to. I’ll just say that were Morgan focused on OTR and only OTR, Holian focuses on the entire Greater Cincinnati Area. I honestly had no idea at all of Covington’s brewing history and the fact that the empty building on the side of 75 which used to be Jillian’s was originally the Bavarian Brewing Company nearly 140 years ago! Another big difference between the two is that Mike Morgan excels at telling a great story in his book. Over The Barrel reads much more like a text book with all the facts and figures that it presents. I don’t want people to view this as a bad thing, just be prepared for the difference.
One comment about what is possibly my favorite fact from this book. I remember a few years back there was a bit of a kerfluffle, and even a New York Times article, about Who Dey vs Who Dat. Now hopefully Bengals fans are already well familiar with the Who Dey chant, if you’re not a Bengals fan it goes “Who Dey! Who Dey! Who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals!” The answer, unfortunately, is almost everyone…. but we’re in a rebuilding year! The New Orleans Saints have a similar chant, “Who Dat! Who Dat! Who dat say gonna beat dem Saints!” As you can see they’re very similar and they both started in the early 80s. The exact beginnings are lost to the sands of time and the dust up is over who started using theirs first. Luckily Holian brings a small fact to light. In December 1982 the Bengals got into the playoffs and Hudepohl created a specially designed can to commemorate the event with “Hu-dey” written on it in big letters. Suck that New Orleans!
A small note on availability: These books do not seem to be available to buy new in any stores and used copies sell on Amazon and Ebay for around $50 per volume. Luckily Cincinnati has one of the greatest, and busiest, library systems in the country. They also seem to have 1 to 2 copies of both volumes at almost every library branch! So if you feel inclined to read this I would suggest a trip down to your local library. Or do like I did and pick them up at the main branch then walk down the street to Arnold’s for a beer while you start reading them!
My love of trying beer long ago turned into a curiosity about the history of beer and the history of styles. This curiosity has already resulted in the posts about Trappists and the Reinheitsgebot. Today I finished reading the excellent book Over-The-Rhine: When Beer Was King by Michael Morgan.
When I first had Chimay’s Grande Reserve I didn’t know what an ale was and certainly had no idea of the history behind the beer I loved so. Now I know all kinds of things about all kinds of beer, but what made Chimay an “Authentic Trappist” ale still evaded me… until now:
Hello again my friends,
Today I am starting a semi-occasional series of posts I like to refer to as the L.A.B. series, or Learning About Beer. The aim of this series is to try to spread beer knowledge. Lots of sites, like ours, review beers, but not too many espouse upon general beer knowledge. So my aim is to try to bring to light different styles, traditions, ingredients, processes or, in this case, a term you may have seen here or there. To put it simply, the Reinheitsgebot is a list of what can go into beer and folks in Cincinnati are big fans of it. To put it more complexly, read on!