“Recipes tell you nothing; learning technique is the key.” These words from famed chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio (also of Top Chef fame), open chapter one of Modern Homebrew Recipes, and also lay out the mission of the book better than the title itself.
As author Gordon Strong’s follow up to Brewing Better Beer, Modern Homebrew Recipes is less of a recipe book as its title claims, and more of a guide to understanding what makes a recipe work. After presenting at multiple homebrew conferences and receiving feedback from that, as well is his prior book, he learned that readers wanted more recipes. He took that feedback and produced what is technically a book of recipes, but also everything that made Brewing Better Beer the book it was.
Strong’s idea is to take the recipe and unravel it to the readers. He wants the readers to understand the thought process of each. There is a lot more to brewing a beer than just throwing random hops and malts into a pot and boiling it. Each ingredient has to play a specific role. Brewing techniques are equally important. Different temperatures and times can produce a drastically different beer.
With over 100 recipes in the book, you have plenty of beers you can just go ahead and make, but to truly grasp the meaning of the book, Strong is almost hoping once the reader realizes the meaning and inspirations behind each beer, they will take the beer and makes it their own. Once you understand the technique behind the beer, it becomes easier to adapt it and make it something special and unique to the brewer. In the end, isn’t the idea of homebrewing all about expressing oneself through beer? Don’t you want to brew your ideal beer, not someone else’s?
Strong’s recipes range from Katherine the Strong, an imperial stout dedicated to the birth of his daughter and brings back fond memories of sipping on it while listening to Metallica, to Christmas Beer, his Ohio State Fair award-wining beer. As he wants his readers to adapt, this beer was one of his own that he’s appropriately updated. It was previously included in Brewing Better Beer, but has since evolved into a richer, bigger, more complex beer. Every great brewer should be open to change and be constantly evolving. It’s hard to stay relevant if you can’t adapt and Strong’s book is a great start to learning how to do just that.