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Book Review: “The Complete Guide to Beer and Brewing” by Laurie Strachan

October 16, 2009

CGTBAB Book Cover Picture


I recently picked up a copy of The Complete Guide to Beer and Brewing by Laurie Strachan with mixed ideas about what I would think of it. After reading it, I was pleasantly surprised with how useful a book like this will become for me in the future.

The start of the book consists of a small section that gives you an overview on the history of beer and an in-depth look at the background of each of the basic ingredients in beer – Malt, Hops, Water and Yeast – and what they each contribute to the makeup of any particular beer style.

The book continues with a very thorough look at all the different styles of beers and the history behind them. A nice little feature is that each beer style description is accompanied by the corresponding excerpt from the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) Style Guide. This allows you to have simple and complete reference for tasting, brewing and general appreciation of a particular style. Neat for having on hand when tasting a new brew (or comparing your brew to a style). The author has also added some Australian commercial examples of certain styles in the existing BJCP guidelines – something which the American-written guidelines do not originally include.

With a small section on actual home-brewing at the end, this book is generally not the best brewing manual on the market, but it does give a good explanation of the various brewing terms and processes, and is broadly aimed at both the novice and intermediate-advanced brewer. However, it does include some great recipes in both the extract and all-grain methods to emulate certain styles that have been talked about earlier in the book, with all the calculations and weights in the metric system – a nice change from many other recipe books on the market.

All in all, I think this book is a great book for any serious beer lover to have in their library. It is an interesting read with some great information regarding the many beer styles around and can provide a useful resource for all serious home-brewers.


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  1. Scotteth permalink

    I got this book and really liked it also. As you say, very handy to have when tasting a new beer. What other books have you read and recommend?

    • To be honest, you can’t go past ‘How to Brew’ by John Palmer. It has a lot of useful information, particularly in relation to tasting your homebrew and decerning reasons for certain off/bad/out-of-place tastes in your brew. A free version of the book can be found here. It’s only the first edition (subsequent editions have been published and need to be purchased – still worth it though!) but it is a great source of info.

      I’ll post some more book reviews as I expand my library 🙂

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