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 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.

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 Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA,
"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.

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