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Old 10-08-2009, 02:03 PM   #1
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Default Designing Great Beers - not impressed

I'd heard a lot of good stuff about this book, so I put it in with my last order. I did a quick read through of it last night, and (don't flame me) I didn't really come out of it with much new or useful information. The first 10 chapters or so of the book are focused on the methods of calculation of parameters in a recipe, which you should already have down pat from a first-time book like How to Brew. All of the style chapters were basically a discussion of the styles and some charts on how some 1993 and 1994 competition beers were formulated (although some styles lack these charts, like the section on wheat beers).

Perhaps what I found the most useful was the section on hop oils. There is a good discussion about what each of them do and taste like, and there are charts about the average content of each oil in each type of hop. However, he devotes only 2-3 sentences to actually figuring out how to dry hop (something like: use 1 or 2 oz, then if you don't like it, adjust accordingly).

But, maybe I got the wrong impression of the book since I just skimmed it since I was eager to read it. If you like the book, would you mind sharing your favorite chapters or concepts in the book?

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Old 10-08-2009, 02:08 PM   #2
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Mostly, it is just the best book available for getting guidlines of grist composition for the styles it covers as opposed to being another recipe book.

I don't even read the earlier stuff any, I just go straight for the styles sections any time I want to brew up something I have not tried yet.

THAT is why DGB is such a good book. It does not just give you a recipe for a beer styles, it gives you a how to and some insight as to what makes the substyles different.


I just wish the Daniels would right a follow up to include the full gamut of styles and substyles.

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Old 10-08-2009, 02:14 PM   #3
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I fail to see how you did a "quick read" of this book. Its no text book, but not something I'd consider light reading. I've just started reading it, and so far like it a lot. It may not be for everyone though. If you want a good recipe book, get Brewing Classic Styles. I'm someone who geeks out on stuff like Good Eats. I like to have the knowledge on how and why we do things with brewing/cooking.

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Old 10-08-2009, 02:22 PM   #4
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I'll +1 Gila's review and analysis, but I think the major shortcoming is that Daniels based his grist composition information on HB examples as opposed to benchmark commercial examples.

There's a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned from those pages, regardless.

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Old 10-08-2009, 02:26 PM   #5
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I'm not thrilled with the book either to be honest. I do read it when I'm venturing into a new style though. I use BCS, Radical Brewing and DGB and get a feel for what I want to do.

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Old 10-08-2009, 02:27 PM   #6
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It has been ages since I read it, but if I recall correctly he also goes into the history of many beer styles and talks about why these styles came around and why they use the different malts/hops etc. That info may or may not make you a better brewer, but I still found it interesting.

And +1 to the "not just another recipe book" comment.

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Old 10-08-2009, 02:28 PM   #7
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You aren't going to get anything out of a quick gander at it. There's a ton of information about the historical context of the beers and how to build a recipe from the ground up. If you just want a good recipe, buy JZ's book; if you want to know how to build a recipe yourself, there's none - NONE - better than DGB.

As to Daniels basing his grist comp info on homebrew examples, that's probably the dataset he had most ready access to. I'd hope that if he ever writes DGB II, he's got the clout within the brewing community where he might be able to get that information more easily.

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Old 10-08-2009, 03:07 PM   #8
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Edit: Nevermind, I somehow misread the OP's post...

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Old 10-08-2009, 03:28 PM   #9
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I consider it a reference text....I would not recommend sitting down and reading it cover to cover-its alot of information and don't go into the practical side of homebrewing. I also do what others have already mentioned....read relevant sections as they apply to beers you are interested in making.

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Old 10-08-2009, 03:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edcculus View Post
I fail to see how you did a "quick read" of this book. Its no text book, but not something I'd consider light reading. I've just started reading it, and so far like it a lot. It may not be for everyone though. If you want a good recipe book, get Brewing Classic Styles. I'm someone who geeks out on stuff like Good Eats. I like to have the knowledge on how and why we do things with brewing/cooking.
It's only about 200 pages, and filled with charts and stuff. I read (word by word) How to Brew in less than a day...it's not hard to skim the book if you sit down with it for 2 hours. I'm also a big Alton Brown fan and absolutely love the book On Food and Cooking where he pulls a LOT of his info from (get it if you don't have it). Thanks for the suggestion of Brewing Classic Styles.

Quote:
You aren't going to get anything out of a quick gander at it. There's a ton of information about the historical context of the beers and how to build a recipe from the ground up. If you just want a good recipe, buy JZ's book; if you want to know how to build a recipe yourself, there's none - NONE - better than DGB.
I suppose, but what I was getting at is the following. If I want to design a brand new recipe, I look at the most popular recipes on hbt of that style, then decide which grains and hops and yeast etc. I like/dislike. Then, maybe add some flair if I want. Then figure out acceptable ratios of grains to stay within style guidelines for color, flavor, gravity, blah blah. Then figure out how much hop flavor and bitterness I want within the guidelines. If the beer doesn't turn out the way I want, I modify the ingredients on the next batch of it until it tastes awesome.

I think this is pretty much common sense to anyone, but the book seems to basically restate the above paragraph except by expanding it to multiple chapters, and in place of the gadjillion recipes here to draw from, it just has an overly condensed table in that style's chapter (when it exists).

A bunch of you have mentioned the history of the styles that gets highlighted in the book. You are right, and I think he does a fairly good job with that. I'm just not quite sure it belongs in a book entitled "Designing...".
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