Review: Christopher Sidwa – Brew a Batch

Brew of Batch
Christopher Sidwa

This is a complete Beer Book – whether you are a complete beginner who owns no equipment so far, or an advanced brewer who wants a compendium of knowledge.  Bottling and kegging are both covered in detail, so if you are familiar with one but not the other, this book is still going to be useful to you. It is worth keeping and consulting it when you need to fix a problem with your beer or you are ready to try brewing different kinds of beer.

I confess, I’m not a beer drinker, and the closest thing I get to helping with beer is when I turn the hose on to fill the … keg?! (Luckily) my fiancee is a beer maker, so I thought this book would be right up her alley. After her initial reservations of reading a book not about management techniques, she got into this book and willingly read it. She happily chatted to me about it for 10 minutes and explained all the steps to me – she was invigorated by reading this book.

The author doesn’t want you to rush out and buy new equipment, he gives you the ability to use the things you have already, and gives hints on the practicalities of working with secondhand kegs and so forth. He also wants to make it possible for everyone to brew beer, so he suggests how to make the process more efficient.

The good thing about this book is that it isn’t just a cookbook with the steps and order, it gives little details for when things go awry. That being said, the book walks though through logical steps from types of beer and ingredients through to the actual method part. This way, when you get to brewing you actually know the principles behind the processes.

The author gives a basic, rewarding beer recipe that will still taste ok if you do something wrong. But after that, there are an infinite number of beers that are brewable! The timing at every step can be crucial, and 1 minute at one step and 5 at another can make a significant change to your beer’s flavour. Then the author gets into discussions about fresh yeast vs liquid yeast vs dry yeast. He suggests that you change just one thing at a time, and you will eventually get the perfect beer.

The book gave all the little details on how to fill a keg and put the lid on – don’t worry when the lid doesn’t seal, just wiggle it until it seals! The author’s sense of humour made the non-fiction reading enjoyable, and the deal was sealed with the gorgeous cover. There are lots of pictures inside of beer, and the author looking happy and having fun making beer. Some of the most useful pictures are those that show the different colours of grains and hops – so you know what kinds of ingredients to buy.

The takeaway from this book was: You don’t make beer, you make conditions that the beer is happy to grow in – Just have a good habitat and keep it clean to make delicious beer.

Murdoch | 30th July 2018 | AU$39.99 | hardback