High on Hops: Experimental Homebrewing

There’s a new bible for ambitious home brewers looking to push the boundaries of beer.

Experimental Homebrewing: Mad Science in the Pursuit of Great Beer by Drew Beechum and Denny Conn can be seen as spiritual successor to Dogfish Head Craft Brewery owner Sam Calagione’s Extreme Brewing. In the nearly ten years since Calagione’s epic treatise on challenging the home brew status quo, the commercial craft beer landscape has expanded and changed more rapidly than even he could have imagined. With more and more fantastical options available on store shelves, a home brewer who wants to stay ahead of the curve will have to go even farther into the science behind brewing and the possibilities of new flavor combinations and techniques.

Experimental Homebrewing contains some of the most inspirational recipes ever seen in a brewing book. Some of our favorites include:

The Curried Oat Mild, for example, is an ode to tikka masala, combining ginger, paprika, Indian coriander and (of course) masala powder into an aromatic, spicy feast of a beer.

The Mean Green Beer incorporates kale, spinach and cucumbers to create a green-tinged pale ale that would make St. Patrick proud. There’s also an entire section on brewing with meat. Bacon Helles, anyone?

The book isn’t just another off-beat recipe collection. It details innovative and inexpensive ways to control fermentation temperatures, “faking” a cask of real ale, creating canned super-starters for better yeast production and more MacGyver-esque ways to up your game. While the recipes do form touchstones to illustrate concepts from chapter to chapter, they are always accompanied by equations, measurement guidelines and the all-important why behind what makes that particular concoction so special.

It’s not the perfect “getting started” book for brand-new home brewers, but Experimental Homebrewing is inspirational and fun for novices or pros. The tone is conversational and humorous while at the same time conveying the knowledge that comes from years of real-world experimentation.

Experimental Homebrewing leaves the reader excited to take on a provided recipe or technique, but also empowers the reader to go off-book and bring their own imaginative concepts to the brew kettle.

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