Book Review: Brooklyn Brew Shop's Beer Making Book

In August, I attended the Portland Beer Bloggers Conference. I noticed that a duo from the Brooklyn Brew Shop was on the agenda to speak. At first, I thought it was odd that some New Yorkers were coming to talk to Portlanders about brewing beer. Imagine that...

Anyway, at the opening session of the conference, I happened to sit next to Erica Shea and Stephen Valand. They were a really nice couple and we chatted about beer (imagine that) for a while. Shortly thereafter, Erica and Stephen proceeded to head to the front of the room and began to talk to the crowd. Turns out they were the co-owners and founders of the Brooklyn Brew Shop.

As recent (and broke) college graduates living in NYC, they decided to make their own beer after Erica found her Dad’s old carboy in the basement. What makes their story unique, is how they homebrew. They perfected small batch (one gallon) all-grain brewing.

Their recently released book, Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book, explains how to make beer in your kitchen using equipment you probably already own. The 175-page book is divided into 2 main sections.

  • Introduction. Details the required equipment, ingredients, beer styles, and the six steps to making beer. Only 24 pages long, this section is concise and covers the basics needed to get started.  
  • Seasonal Beer Recipes:  The rest of the book contains beer recipes for each of the four seasons. All 52 recipes are all-grain and formulated for one gallon batches. Each season features a few food recipes that use beer as a main ingredient.

I’ve been extract brewing for about a year, and just recently upgraded to all-grain brewing. I honestly didn’t expect much from this book because I thought it was intended for brewing newbies. I was wrong!

While it’s a great book for those taking their initial steps into brewing, it also has something to offer the more experienced brewers. For those who like to brew big batches, each recipe also includes a scaled-up five gallon version.

However, my big revelation was that small batch brewing enables hobbyists to experiment and explore with minimal risk and expense. I’ve often thought about brewing with unusual ingredients, but have avoided it because I didn’t want to get stuck with 5 gallons of beer I don’t like. 

That sense of experimentation and exploration is reflected in recipes in this book. Some of the more unique and quirky recipes include Lobster Saison, Citrus Gose, Imperial Pepper Stout, Grapefruit Honey Ale, Egg Nog Milk Stout, and four gluten-free beers. I expect that for every successful recipe, there was probably a failure or two. But the experimentation and the results  (good and bad) are all part of the learning processand the fun. 

I liked the authors' simplistic approach. They avoided brewing jargon and made this book approachable and a joy to read. If you’re looking for a holiday gift for the aspiring brewer in your life, this will make an excellent stocking stuffer. You can find it at Amazon or your favorite bookseller. Check out the Brooklyn Brew Shop website for more information about the book and their beer kits.

Full Disclosure: I recieved a copy of the book from the publisher for review.

Have you read Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book?  Have any experience in small batch brewing?

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Stephen Valand & Erica Shea - Photo by Roxanna Marroquin

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