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Book recommendation: American Sour Beers

As the interest in homebrewing has bloomed Internet discussion boards have turned into a (at least sometimes) valuable tool. That’s certainly true in Brazil. However, regulars in these groups can get bored answering the same newbie questions time after time. As a result some of them have taking to replying to questions asked the eighth, ninth and fifty-third times they are asked by typing, “Read the $#@&*% Palmer.”

Ronaldo Dutra Ferreira explained that the quote was created and posted in English as something of an inside joke for those who have leaned heavily on the book from Brewers Publications, of course including John Palmer’s “How to Brew.”

This story is funnier when you are riding in a van full of Brazilian homebrewers, who use the phrase often with the expected expletive rather than keyboard symbols, and John Palmer is in the backseat. But I’ve got another point. I often receive questions about brewing sour beers, generally ones that are above my level of expertise. I am delighted that although the premise is different — in this case, not referring to questions I find simple and repetitive, but ones that should be answered by somebody who knows what he is talking about — that now I can reply, “Read the $#&*% Tonsmeire.”

Michael Tonsmeire has written a book — “American Sour Beers” — that somebody who knew better probably wouldn’t have attempted. The subject is dynamic, which can be a bit terrifying. But “American Sours” is wonderfully complete, both the way Tonsmeire presents the process involved in conjuring up such beers, the science behind them, and the number of breweries, each of them taking a slightly different approach.

Here’s an example of one of many charts, this one detailing the production of Cambridge Cerise Cassée (one of my favorite beers):

Cambridge Brewing souring process

“Wild Brews” remains an essential resource for those interested in wild or sour beers, but “American Sour Beers” basically picks up where it left off (in 2005).

Want a better idea of the scope of the book? Read the table of contents. It is a “complete guide,” well organized, easy to read, and — I’m going to have to consider another job if I keep typing this — another book I wish I’d written.

4 Responses to Book recommendation: American Sour Beers

  1. Ronaldo July 31, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Great momentos, Stan!!!

  2. Nate O. August 1, 2014 at 6:15 am #

    I’m really glad Brewers Publications has digital editions now. I had to get rid of all of your books when I moved to Germany. It was tragic.

    • Stan Hieronymus August 1, 2014 at 7:19 am #

      I’ll take that as a compliment, Nate, but it is sad.

  3. rifain August 18, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    Très constructive publication sur les bières aigres….C’est un régal de le lire, et à chaque publication de B.A. Toutes mes félicitations à l’auteur et aussi à B.A. Je suis francophone, et grâce à vos livres j’améliore et mon anglais et également mon apprentissage de la science de la bière…Bravo and cheers…..

    Rif ( Montpellier, France)

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