Homebrewing is a rewarding and growing hobby. Enjoying a delicious craft beer is always a treat, but there is something even more satisfying when the well- crafted brew in front of you is a product made from the sweat of one’s own brow; a beer made in your own kitchen from ingredients grown right on your own property. One guide ready to assist homebrewers in this endeavor is Gardening for the Homebrewer: Grow and Process Plants for Making Beer, Wine, Gruit, Cider, Perry, and More, a botanically- focused book written by Wendy Tweten and Debbie Teashon.
Planting, Harvesting, and Preparation
Gardening for the Homebrewer starts off with some basic information on soil, tools, planting, and seeding. It pours the foundation before moving on to the actual gardening course, which covers growing barley, hops, wheat, and other grains with additional education on malting and other important steps in the brewing process. The book then talks a little bit about growing herbs and other ingredients common to craft beer today.
Other Fermentable Ingredients
Once the lesson in growing ingredients specifically for beer is complete, Gardening for the Homebrewer moves in other adult beverage directions. It has a chapter on growing grapes and making wine; a chapter on cider; a chapter on pears; and a chapter on liqueurs, distilled spirits, and herbs. In each section, the book covers the basic knowledge necessary to grow these essential ingredients, stepping the reader through the process from planting seeds through harvesting, with general advice on hardiness zones, required space, size of typical harvest, etc.
The Joy of Gardening
Gardening for the Homebrewer is a helpful guide book about beer, wine, cider, and liqueur and the ingredients that go into each. The book aims to supply the more advanced or more interested homebrewer with the necessary knowledge to take his/her hobby to the next level by growing the ingredients in one’s own back yard, for a truly pure and natural beer or wine made in the most self- sufficient way possible.
Here at Great Beer Now, we tend to like drinking beer more than making beer, but we have not been without our own foray into the world of brewing beer. Our experience has been more along the lines of beer making kits and bags of dried malt- not with using freshly grown ingredients. Living in the city, the idea of growing my own barley, wheat, and hops isn’t really practical but I can see how this would appeal to the more serious homebrewer and Gardening for the Homebrewer is a good guide book to help homebrewers learn how/when to plant seed, how to take care of plants, how/when to harvest, and how best to utilize fresh ingredients to make your beer taste better than ever.
Gardening for the Homebrewer is a useful hands- on guide and I like how it includes so many little tidbits of information. Yes, there are lots of books and advice on gardening, but this book includes helpful tips on things not often covered in other gardening books, like proper cleaning of your freshly harvested food, knowing the right time to harvest, selecting a potting container, sorting and eliminating food items not fit for consumption, and so on. The book also contains its share of humor, which is not something found in the typical book on this subject.
One of the surprises with this book is the chapters on other adult beverages: wine, cider, gruit, and liqueur. Judging by the book’s title, I didn’t expect anything at all relating to other drinks. I expected this book to be dedicated solely to grains, hops, and other ingredients used in beer. I wasn’t so sure I appreciated this other information, but the more I read, the more I could recognize its value. The proper growing and care of grapes, apples, pears, herbs, and like items is good information to know about for any gardener, but since these items are sometimes used in craft beer, the usefulness of this information to someone who is strictly a homebrewer is obvious.
Expand Your Homebrew Horizons
Gardening for the Homebrewer is a very good book on growing, caring for, and harvesting the ingredients common to today’s adult beverages. It helps homebrewers, wine makers, cider makers, and others take their hobby to new heights, using fresh ingredients grown right on one’s own premises for the most natural, unprocessed beverage possible.
I like the way this book is written. About the only improvement I can think of is the addition of a concluding chapter. The way it is written, the book ends with a section on herbs, stopping suddenly after talking about the last one, thyme. The reader flips the page and expects to read a closing chapter or something similar that ties everything together. Instead, the next thing you see is a page of acknowledgments and photo credits. A conclusion would be a better way to summarize key points before sending the gardener on his/her way.
Craft beer and the homebrewing hobby have come a long way since homebrewing was legalized back in the 1970’s. With the proliferation of craft beer, homebrewers have grown more creative, more experimental, and more avid than before, willing to try new ingredients and tweak recipes in directions once considered unthinkable. Gardening for the Homebrewer helps homebrewers grow their own ingredients for the freshest, most authentic, most personalized, and most natural beer, wine, or cider possible. It’s a handy guide that belongs in any homebrewer’s library.