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on January 24, 2004
This book is a fantastic help for a homebrewer who wants to create his own recipes. It isn't going to tell you how to clone Newcastle or Sam Adams, but it helps you create your own unique recipe within the framework of a classic beer style, whether a Northern English Brown Ale, an Oktoberfestbier or Sweet Stout. The detail is astounding, ranging from historical references, commercial and homebrewed examples. With a wealth of well-presented information, the two chapters on hops I've reread several times, along with many of my favorite style chapters. Practical advise is given for creating a successful recipe, drawing on the author's own experiences in National Homebrew Competition. One example I think of is from the Brown Ale chapter: he gives the suggestion of choosing just a couple specialty malts to compliment your chosen yeast, rather than the often-employed little-bit-of-everything approach to the malt bill. This book could be valuable to someone who's made a handful of extract brews and wants to create something within a style framework; likewise, it would be of value to someone who's been brewing several years. I'm still doing extract brewing, so I know I'll be going back over a lot of the material pertaining to mashing someday. Not to mention some of the style chapters that I don't have the ability to do yet, like Pilsner or Kolsch. By the way, the author himself recommends Noonan's Scotch Ale (Classic Beer Style Series: 8), and I would too.
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on February 7, 2004
After NEW BREWING LAGER BEER, this has been the most helpful book to get my beer styles just right. It contains hordes of information usually available only in professional works, and doesn't over complicate it. I love this book and always refer to it before I start a new brew. It is the only accurate book that discusses the amount of water retained in your grain, and allows you to calculate the pre brew water quantity more accurately. A must for you home brew library.
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on June 26, 2002
First, let me say what this book is not. It is not a recipe book, or a book which describes the techniques for brewing beer. In other words, it is not for beginners.
After following recipes for a number of batches of beer, it was time to learn how to create my own recipes. The purpose of this book is to do just that; come up with your own recipes. The first part of the book tells the reader how to compute the grain bill, the hop bill and how to hit original gravity. It also contains information on beer color, yeast and water. I used this section to make the computations for my first original recipe. This, in turn, gave me the incentive to buy a brewing software package which I now use in conjunction with the second part of the book.
The second part describes beer styles and what ingredients go into each style described. There is a chart for each style which gives information on ingredients used in beers which made it to the second round of the NHC. I found some of the charts in this part somewhat confusing and there are a few references in the text to wrong charts. However, as a result of this book, I have started to formulate my own recipes with a lot of success.
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on April 8, 2010
This is a good book for those interested in the history of beers, or those with some basic brewing knowledge who want to learn more.

The book is not a recipe book, if that's what you're looking for, but does go into detail about style guides and each styles history. It also covers ingredient trends in the NHC (National Homebrew Competition) in the US, although from a few years back. It would be nice to see a new addition to update that info.

All in all I'm glad I've got this book - and I would definitely recommend it for those brewers who plan to put their beer into competition, or for those who just love a little history and want to know more about the hobby!
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on January 9, 2003
I've got several brewing texts, but this is the one I frequent the most. If you're a moderately experienced brewer looking for details on a particular style, or you're trying to get away from just copying other people's recipes and try your hand at it for a change, this is just the book. It tells you the ingredients, mash schedule, yeasts, etc that would be appropriate for a style and what worked for other award winning beers, plus some history on each of the major styles.
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on March 1, 2011
As someone relatively new to homebrewing and looking into moving from extract to all grain brewing, this book is excellent.
It really breaks down how to formulate recipes based on your target style, percentages of appropriate malts and adjuncts, yeasts, etc.
This book opened my eyes to hitting target gravity, bitterness ratios and a host of other things. Well worth it!!
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on May 6, 1998
Some people are content to brew with other people's recipes. For those that are not, this book represents a breakthrough, not only in brewing how-to manuals, but in the whole spectrum of manuals on creating things to ingest. This is not a beer cookbook, id est: pick one of these that looks good, buy these ingredients, mix like so, cook like so... This book takes the process one step farther: what do you want to brew? this is typically how that style is brewed. this is what is typically in that style of beer....and the general instructions necessary to create the recipe for the beer you want, with all sorts of reference information to help the brewer achieve that goal... A reasonable understanding of brewing is a pre-requisite. This book is for creating beers with particular characteristics with regard to the brewer's particular process. If there are any shortcomings, it would be that certain common styles, such as German Dark Lagers, Belgian Trappist Ales, are not addressed. But the design process laid out allows a brewer, even without the benefit of anything more that basic parameters, to make a beer that will approach those parameters. I own or have read several texts on homebrewing, this is the only book to which I refer when I set out to brew a batch of beer.
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on January 3, 2002
The title of this book is the truth. It IS a book about Designing Great Beer: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles. If I were allowed only one book about brewing beer, this would be it.
With this book and a little work on my brewing system to figure out certain variables (efficiency, how much water is lost etc...), I was able to create an Excel Spreadsheet that walks me through the process of designing my own beer and it works. I plug in the size of the batch I want, original gravity, bittering, and a few other things and it tells me how much mash water and sparge water I need to start. Then when things don't come out perfect, an additional spread sheet helps me calculate how much malt extract, sugar, honey or even water to add to get the gravity to where I want it. This is all from what I learned from part one of this book. If you are an all grain brewer and you don't have this book, you are not brewing to the best of your ability.
If you like to enter contests, you know that the judges don't care if the beer is good. They want beer that is good and true to style. The second part of this book is such a comprehensive guide to style I can almost guarantee it will help you improve your scores.
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on October 11, 2003
Any serious homebrewer, or anyone aspiring to become one, should read this book, and then use it as a reference tool.
It provides an introductory section, which is really a thorough course, in brewing technique, covering malts, water, color, hops and yeast. It is heavy in formulas and theory, but presented in an understandable manner (if you have already brewed).
Then it moves on to a section for each of the classical beer styles, with detailed information on each, and I was pleased with the coverage given to the traditional German ales, my favorite subject. But it is similarly thorough with respect to British ales and pilsners. Unlike other recent books, it does not put emphasis on the Belgian fad.
Since I brew mainly to please myself and not to win competitions, I am not convinced that the statistics on how the NHC runners-up brewed is significant (and there is a lot of it). It may indicate if these brewers hit a style right - but only as tasted and interpreted by the judges. Although it may be useful to take some inspiration and knowledge from these recipes, one should not be a slave to the taste (or lack of) of others or strict interpretations of style. My only other gripe is that some tables use different methods of measurements for the same thing, making it hard to compare values.
The many tables and formulas are mindboggling. Luckily you can buy software that will translate and calculate it all for you (ProMash comes to mind) - but the book is extrememly useful for your understanding of how values are calculated - in short how the beer might turn out.
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on November 3, 1999
This book is excellent in concept, format and layout. This is a great book for anyone who has brewed a beer or two and wants to venture out. It has been extremely valuable in my efforts to clone commercial beers. This is because it clearly explains the differences in the different beer styles and brewing techniques including great chapters on grain, water, color and fermentation. The book is complete and easy to understand. I would say this is THE book to get after you've finished any basic book such as "The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing".
The author gives all the formulas (and tables for those who don't like math) that assist the brewer in designing his/her next best beer ever. This book is a must. The only thing I would like to have seen would have been an accompanying disk with an MS Excel workbook with all the formulas laid on it. That way I wouldn't have had to do it myself.
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