"Session Beers", by Jennifer Talley...recommend?

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MrBJones

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If you've owned or seen this book, do you recommend it based on its recipes? If so, are they all-grain? Single infusion?
Thanks
 
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Recipes are all-grain. There is a commercial recipe and a "5 gallon" recipe for each beer. For each recipe, there are notes on "mashing, fermentation, maturation, and carbonation". I did a quick scan of the recipes in chapter 6 ("North American Session Beers") - most are single infusion.
 

CascadesBrewer

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I got the book a few years ago free when I renewed my AHA membership. I was pretty disappointed with the book. I am a massive fan of sessionable beers and I was looking forward to learning more about how to adapt beers to the 3% to 4% range.

My recollection is that Jennifer Talley worked in a brewery/pup in Utah where she was required to brew 3.2% beers. You would think she would have a ton of hands on experience with adapting styles to that level. Instead there is very little of her advice other than common sense stuff (like mash higher and use lower attenuating yeast).

Many of the recipes are just about brewing standard examples of the styles. Like a 5% American Lager, a 4.7% Pale Ale or a 3.8% English Mild. There are a few decent example recipes from breweries for low ABV beers. Another disappointment is that with each brewery's recipe there is a paragraph or two about the brewery, but none of that talks about the brewery's approach to making low ABV beers. It is just generic info about the brewery.

I don't have the book with me now. I recall there was one or two recipes from Jennifer Talley. I would have loved to see a dozen recipes from her of various style beers adapted to the 3.2% range.
 

MaxStout

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I had it in my Amazon wish list, but after reading several reviews, including this detailed review, I asked myself, "what does the book bring to my knowledge base and recipe selection that I don't already have from several other books, not to mention recipes from HBT and AHA?" I never ordered the book.

It just seems like the marketplace is flooded with brewing recipe books.
 

MaxStout

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i've read someplace forgoten, Utah does it by weight though, so 3.2/.8=4%ABV if i know the formula right?
Utah has bumped it up to 4% ABW (5% ABV) in grocery stores and beer-only establishments; higher ABV beers can be sold in state-run liquor stores and certain places that have a full liquor license.

Fun fact: Minnesota is now the only state that still sells 3.2 beer (in grocery stores).
 

marc1

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I got the book a few years ago free when I renewed my AHA membership. I was pretty disappointed with the book. I am a massive fan of sessionable beers and I was looking forward to learning more about how to adapt beers to the 3% to 4% range.

My recollection is that Jennifer Talley worked in a brewery/pup in Utah where she was required to brew 3.2% beers. You would think she would have a ton of hands on experience with adapting styles to that level. Instead there is very little of her advice other than common sense stuff (like mash higher and use lower attenuating yeast).

Many of the recipes are just about brewing standard examples of the styles. Like a 5% American Lager, a 4.7% Pale Ale or a 3.8% English Mild. There are a few decent example recipes from breweries for low ABV beers. Another disappointment is that with each brewery's recipe there is a paragraph or two about the brewery, but none of that talks about the brewery's approach to making low ABV beers. It is just generic info about the brewery.

I don't have the book with me now. I recall there was one or two recipes from Jennifer Talley. I would have loved to see a dozen recipes from her of various style beers adapted to the 3.2% range.
If you're new to brewing lower ABV beer it would probably be a decent read.

I don't remember it having anything in it that was new to me. I was hoping for a lot more, as you described. I borrowed it from the library, skimmed it and returned it. Not worth a purchase to me.
 
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MicroMickey

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Some time back I wrote a series of articles on SMALL & SESSION beers. Reduced alcohol beers have a definite place in this world. To keep things in perspective, most global beer cultures think of beers in the 5.5% to 6% abv range as “strong” beers. Sometimes you simply want to drink a number of pints without starting to drool, getting loud, and becoming “that guy.” Read more about it here . . . Session Beers
 
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I found the book helpful in her discussion of balance in low-alcohol beers. I agree with the comment above that more of her recipes would have been appreciated. As I got it as part of a package of books from an ex-homebrewer, I admit my investment was negligible, but I did find value in the book for her process discussions. It is one of the books that has not been relegated to the back of the shelf for that reason.
 

mashpaddled

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If you're looking for legitimate clone recipes for 4-5% beers it's a good book but jump right into the recipes. There are a lot of sketchy clone recipes online and in magazines so it's a good resource especially if you can get the book for free or cheap.

Otherwise the book is awful. Brewers Publication went through a phase of pumping out books in the early 2010s where they would put out a book on any subject which tried to cover every related subject imaginable which turned out books with no depth and a lot of filler content. Who is the person who needs commercial scale clone recipes and an elementary history of several brewing regions of Europe? I really don't know. The subject matter is so broad there's no way to effectively write that book and cover everything it pretended to address. There's simply no way to effectively address brewing techniques for Belgian table beer, Czech pilsner, hefeweizen, English mild and session IPA in one book because the techniques are so different, especially when adding lagers into the mix. There's very, very little useful brewing knowledge to learn out of that book.

This could have been a great book if the decision had been made to narrowly focus this book on brewing American session beers which were popular when the book was conceived. BP has superior books covering several of the subjects stuffed into this book (e.g. Brewing with Wheat, BLAM). BP could have published one or two books separately on English beers and an updated book on lagers. This was a missed opportunity to make the case for reviving and refreshing core American craft beer styles along with newer styles emerging in the past decade (session IPA, American kettle sour styles) with meaningful discussions of brewing techniques beyond "just add wheat and use a less attenuative strain" normally dolled out as brewing advice.
 
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