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Old 02-24-2011, 08:23 PM   #1
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I've read the Joy of Home Brewing about two or three times from cover to cover. I've been looking for some new reading and I came across Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles.
Has anyone read both books? Is it worth picking up Designing Great Beers if you've already read Joy?



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Old 02-24-2011, 08:34 PM   #2
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First, let me say a lot of key info in the Complete Joy... has been replaced by more modern wisdom. A lot of people like How to Brew by John Palmer, but even the author admits that there is some wrong info it it (like transferring to secondary). In my opinion, Designing Great Beers is not a good book. I know a bunch of people like it, but the kind of statistics he draws from the recipes he analyzed are very simplistic and not enough to tell you completely how to create a new recipe of a specific style. This is the kind of thing that comes from seeing others' recipes and experimentation. More importantly, all the info was compiled in the 90s, and he does not cover at all some of the major beer styles.

The best beer-related book I have read is Yeast: the Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation by Jamil Zainasheff and Chris White. It is NOT a how-to guide on beer, but it is a wonderful book on Yeast and procedures regarding yeast.



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Old 02-24-2011, 10:40 PM   #3
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"How to Brew" is more modern than "Complete Joy", both are fine intros though. After that, 2 books are very helpful when you get into making your own recipes:
Designing Great Beers
Brewing Classic Styles

And you can add Brew Like a Monk for Belgian styles and you have a pretty solid base.

After that, you're entering more specialized territory (Jamil's Yeast book is great, Wild Brews is a must if you do sours, Radical Brewing is nice for pushing the envelope, etc).

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Old 02-24-2011, 10:54 PM   #4
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"In my opinion, Designing Great Beers is not a good book."
I agree. It was one of the last books I read after several others and I quickly found it contributed nothing new. It's a very basic book that may be useful if you have not read, The complete Joy or How to Brew.

That said, I'll back Rocketman by saying Yeast: the Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation is the best book you can get. It is a How to Brew done for yeast. This book destroyed so many misconception about fermentation and yeast that were either perpetuated by other books or forum responses.

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Old 02-24-2011, 10:57 PM   #5
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The parts that I like about Designing Great Beers are not the specific style recipe guidelines, even though that comprises a decent amount of the book. So in that respect I agree with rocketman.

What it does right IMO is provide a more general background for how to build a recipe from the ground up, starting with your target gravity and IBUs and then working backwards from there to create a grain and hops bill. In addition, it has some nuggets in there that I really haven't seen anywhere else, such as the charts showing hops alpha acid degradation after X time in storage at Y temperature.

So the first part(s) of the book I find really useful and practical, but I agree that the recipe statistical analysis isn't very helpful for the most part, and that's probably about half the book.

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Old 02-24-2011, 10:59 PM   #6
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3 Classing Brewing Books that everyone should have in their library IMO:

HOW TO BREW
DESIGNING GREAT BEERS
BREWING CLASSIC STYLES

I want to pick up YEAST: Practical Guide to Fermentation. .. but I havnt got a copy yet

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Old 02-24-2011, 11:04 PM   #7
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I salute you for reading Joy of Home Brewing more than once.

I actually think you get more info reading HBT or some of the other brewing sites. You get info that is dissected, analyzed and fought over until you want to scream. You also get people arguing about the methods they read in those books, as well as what the kid told them in the LHBS. And it is an ever changing base of info.

Honestly most of the books bore me - I'd rather brew and learn.

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Old 02-24-2011, 11:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketman768 View Post
First, let me say a lot of key info in the Complete Joy... has been replaced by more modern wisdom. A lot of people like How to Brew by John Palmer, but even the author admits that there is some wrong info it it (like transferring to secondary). In my opinion, Designing Great Beers is not a good book. I know a bunch of people like it, but the kind of statistics he draws from the recipes he analyzed are very simplistic and not enough to tell you completely how to create a new recipe of a specific style. This is the kind of thing that comes from seeing others' recipes and experimentation. More importantly, all the info was compiled in the 90s, and he does not cover at all some of the major beer styles.
I have to disagree wholeheartedly with this opinion on Ray Daniels' Designing Great Beers. It is a fantastic book that teaches you how to craft your own recipes and to understand what contributes what. It is not a book you will typically read straight through. You will read what is relevant to you at the time and will find you get something new out of it each time you go back. As far as it being compiled in the 1990's...how long do you think these beer styles have been around? A year or three? Ray does a great job of giving some history to each style then talking about how it evolved. The info is hardly outdated.

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Originally Posted by SumnerH View Post
"How to Brew" is more modern than "Complete Joy", both are fine intros though. After that, 2 books are very helpful when you get into making your own recipes:
Designing Great Beers
Brewing Classic Styles

And you can add Brew Like a Monk for Belgian styles and you have a pretty solid base.

After that, you're entering more specialized territory (Jamil's Yeast book is great, Wild Brews is a must if you do sours, Radical Brewing is nice for pushing the envelope, etc).
I agree with this in its entirety. I loved Brew Like a Monk and am looking forward to devouring Yeast, Radical Brewing, and Wild Brews.

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Originally Posted by Legin View Post
"In my opinion, Designing Great Beers is not a good book."
I agree. It was one of the last books I read after several others and I quickly found it contributed nothing new. It's a very basic book that may be useful if you have not read, The complete Joy or How to Brew.

That said, I'll back Rocketman by saying Yeast: the Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation is the best book you can get. It is a How to Brew done for yeast. This book destroyed so many misconception about fermentation and yeast that were either perpetuated by other books or forum responses.
I am not sure how you can even compare How to Brew or Complete Joy to Designing Great Beers. They are completely different styles of books with totally different aims and info. DGB is NOT a how to brew book like the other two. It is a primer on how to...wait for it...Design Great Beers

I think it is a must have in any homebrewers library and I find it an invaluable resource as I continue to design and refine my favorite recipes.
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Old 02-24-2011, 11:12 PM   #9
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DON'T FORGET YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY!!! chances are they might have a few books on brewing

I just took 3 homebrewing books out of mine. a brewing guide, a chemistry of brewing book, and a homebrewers gardening book. I also have a book of clone recipes on hold.
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Old 02-24-2011, 11:26 PM   #10
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"I am not sure how you can even compare How to Brew or Complete Joy to Designing Great Beers. They are completely different styles of books with totally different aims and info. DGB is NOT a how to brew book like the other two. It is a primer on how to...wait for it...Design Great Beers."

True. That was a bad comparison on my part, as there is little about styles in both books mentioned. Although I will say the beginning section of Designing Great Beers is the same description of grains, hops, etc. that you get in most books. The second half was helpful on establishing a style, but it just listed what ingredients and techniques were most used in beers that excelled in a competition, without listing them together into a solid recipe and practice to follow. I felt that one would learn this anyway from experimenting with their brewing. Also, I had read Radical Brewing before Designing, and not only was Radical Brewing beautifully written in comparison to Designing, but it also gave specific style guidelines and recipes to follow.



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