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‘So you want to start a brewery?’

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Gay Talese once said, “The problem is that when you are writing nonfiction you have to place yourself into a category or else Barnes & Noble doesn’t know where to shelves you book.”

Most B&N stores devote only a shelf to beer-related books, so there won’t be much decision making about where to put “So You Want to Start a Brewery.” (At Powell’s in Portland, Oregon, which has a great collection of beer books it gets a little tougher.) But the fact is it fits as comfortably on a shelf with books intended to guide entrepreneurs or with biographies. It is not the only book a person would need to own before starting a brewery, but it is full of useful advice. It makes equally as good a gift for a beer fan, and particularly a Lagunitas beer fan.

Perhaps it is best to simply quote a few of the recommendations from the back cover:

“All brewers think they can write, but Tony brings his unique and entertaining beer story to life in such a funny, breezy, yet thoughtful way that reading it feels like you’re having one of his IPA’s with Hemingway and Gore Vidal in a Key West bar. I read it cover to cover in one sitting and found myself laughing out loud throughout.” — Harry Schuhmacher, publisher, Beer Business Daily

“Unconventional brands come from unconventional people. Drawing from music and literature, Tony Magee sees the world in a way that most completely miss. He has poured his heart and soul into Lagunitas and we are all richer for it.” — Keith Greggor, co-owner & CEO, Anchor Brewing Company

“Tony is one of the most unique characters in all of craftdom, rising fast to become one of the top US craft brewers in recent years. He’s wicked smart and has a way with words; here’s his story told in his own inimitable fashion.” — Benj Steinman, Beer Marketer’s Insights

Malt: A Practical Guide

Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse“Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse” completes the Brewing Elements Series from Brewers Publications. The book “delves into the intricacies of this key ingredient used in virtually all beers. This book provides a comprehensive overview of malt, with primary focus on barley, from the field through the malting process. With primers on history, agricultural development and physiology of the barley kernel, John Mallett (Bell’s Brewery, Inc.) leads us through the enzymatic conversion that takes place during the malting process. A detailed discussion of enzymes, the Maillard reaction, and specialty malts follows. Quality and analysis, malt selection, and storage and handling are explained. This book is of value to all brewers, of all experience levels, who wish to learn more about the role of malt as the backbone of beer.”

Order it here.

Experimental Homebrewing

The cover of this book includes the words “mad science” and the fellow on the front has that certain look. No surprise that the 30-plus recipes in this book include beers made with mushrooms and watermelon (different beers, but in the spirit of the book you can do whatever you want).

However, authors Drew Beechum and Denny Conn — both “can I have my picture taken with you?” superstars in the homebrewing community — also are interested in experiments that include ways to make beer better. They ask questions like: Do you get different hop aromas from hops steeped at different temperatures? Can you change your flavor and aroma characteristics by pitching different amounts of yeast?

“Experimental Homebrewing: Mad Science in the Pursuit of Great Beer” comes with a list of coded experiments, so you can feel like a scientist yourself.

World Bottled Beers: 50 Classics

World Bottled Beers: 50 Classic Brews to Sip and Savour“World Bottled Beers: 50 Classic Brews to Sip and Savour” is a book shaped like a bottle. You might want to consider it as a stocking stuffer, because it doesn’t look fun to wrap.

This is not another “best beers” book but simply one with 50 outstanding recommendations. Adrien Tierney-Jones — who organized and contributed to “1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die — gives a brief history of each of the beers as well as descriptions of the aromas and flavors that make each beer unique. He also includes a list of similar beers for each entry.

Here’s what he has to say about Old Foghorn from Anchor Brewing:

“Drunk fresh, it has a fiery alcoholic edge on the palate, through it is moderated by a smooth and creamy mouthfeel alongside fruitcake spice, zesty orange-citrus notes and a hint of white pepper, before a long, bittersweet finish. Meanwhile, the nose features hints of ripe apricot, Christmas cake and an earthy, Burgundian hoppiness. As it ages, the beer develops a sweetness reminiscent of an old Madeira wine; on the palate it can be vinous, woody, firey and have a hint of roast banana as well as a brandy-like elegance.”

And thinking about the stocking you might put it in, it is 3 1/4 inches wide and 10 1/2 inches tall.

New books for the beer enthusiast

The Audacity of HopsHere are 10 recently released books we think any beer enthusiast would be happy to find under the tree (OK, nine you can buy now and the tenth does have recipes for a homebrewer, but we’re sure it’s worth the wait and will be enjoyed by beer lovers as well as brewers):

- The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution

- Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

- The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes

- The American Craft Beer Cookbook: 155 Recipes from Your Favorite Brewpubs and Breweries

- The Pocket Beer Guide: The Essential Handbook to the Very Best Beers in the World

- The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers: An All-Excess Pass to Brewing’s Outer Limits

- California Breweries North

- Craft Beer World

- Portland Beer: Crafting the Road to Beervana

- And due out Jan. 1: The Home Brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer: Rediscovered Recipes for Classic Brews Dating from 1800 to 1950

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