Radical Indeed. My homebrewing endeavors started in 1991 with a can of Mount Mellick American Light Lager (yeast packet glued to the top) a glass carboy, and a copy of Papazian's Complete Joy of Homebrewing. I made beer, now and again, in a similar method for several years, never straying from the comfort zone, always keeping to the well-worn path of common beer recipes. Over time I did improve my techniques, but I was still curious about the more unusual recipes, methods, and ingredients.
I had chance to meet Randy Mosher for the first time a few years ago now at the annual seminars that Siciliano's Market hosts each year in May. I had heard of his book, Radical Brewing, and his newest book, Tasting Beer. Randy proved to be an engaging and passionate speaker. He came carrying several varieties of several different ingredients, such as sugars, corianders, and the like. It was an eye opening experience. I looked forward to checking out his books.
But before I delve into the book, Radical Brewing, I think you should know that besides being a home brewing author, he is also a graphic artist. This is VERY evident in his books. Not a page is turned that does not have an illustration, chart, figure, or photo. Usually there are several. It is a feast for the eyes!
Randy is also a very humorous author. He passes up no opportunity for making the reader chuckle or laugh out loud. I don't think I would be out of line in comparing Mosher's writing style to that of Terry Pratchett, loaded with wit and poking fun at human nature and the everyday things in life and in brewing.
So it should be no surprise that Radical Brewing starts off with a chapter entitled, Embellished History, which is exactly what it sounds like; a possibly nearly accurate recounting of the reason man settled down and became civilized: Beer! Mosher then continues on with chapters describing what makes a beer, an overview of the brewing process, ingredients, recipe building, and a few chapters on different beer styles.
Radical Brewing talks about alternate main fermentables, fruits, spices, sugars, odd stuff, historical recipes, growing your own, and more. It is a mlange of homebrewing how-to and endless possibilities. Like Papazian, his book creates a passion for the hobby (or art, if you please!) while it also provides a solid foundation for success by providing advice focused on best home brewing practices.
Radical Brewing will kickstart your creativity with ingredients, recipes, and methods. This is not a style guideline book. This is a book that will help you how to break free of style guidelines while encouraging you to really TASTE what you make, and make what you like. It encourages you to seek out something different and expand your brewing horizons.
The book finishes with chapters on social settings, such as homebrewing clubs, on Do It Yourself equipment, on pairing with food, and even touches on transitioning from home brewer to professional brewer.
Randy has traveled the world, seeking out beer history, beer ingredients, and beer styles. He writes with a wit and humor that engages the reader as much as his knowledge and experience in brewing and brewing ingredients.
I happened upon Mr. Mosher once again at this year's NHC. I told him I wanted to write an article about Radical Brewing and I asked for his blessing. He was most gracious and not only gave his blessing, but he gave me a sneak peek at his newest offerings, coming out this fall.
He has two new books out, A Beer for All Seasons, and Mastering Homebrew. I got a sneak peek at Mastering Homebrew and I can say that it will be packed full of visual goodies and up-to-date information on brewing practices.
If you are curious about the more arcane possibilities in making beer, I highly encourage you to check out a copy of Radical Brewing. It's a useful and entertaining book that will engage you and feed your creativity.
Look forward to more from Randy Mosher himself and Jim "Homercidal" Hulliberger, two of the latest writers to join our team!