William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill's new book Beer Craft: A Simple Guide to Making Great Beer is like Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything—just for homebrew hobbyists. In the book, the writer-designer duo outlines the basic steps of brewing then give you all the information you need to improvise and make each batch your own. Unlike the homebrew books that have come before, Beer Craft is designed for folks like Bostwick and Rymill: urban DIYers living in small, city apartments. "Most books are written for making five gallons at a time, which is a lot" Bostwick says. "Our book focuses on small, one-gallon batches you can easily make on your stove."
Bostwick and Rymill (pictured here) were both without 9-to-5s at the beginning of 2010—Bostwick had been a senior editor at I.D. Magazine (which folded in December 2009) and Rymill left her job at a book-packaging company to freelance full-time. They decided to turn their new-found beer-making passion into a professional endeavor and holed up in a cabin in New York state's Catskill Mountains to study the craft. Courtesy of Jeff Elkins Photography.
The book is divided into five chapters: Learn, Make, Drink, Design, and Repeat. Bostwick wrote the text, and Rymill designed the entire book, from cover to inside flaps to page layouts to infographics. In this spread, they present an overview of the six basic brewing steps, which they describe in more detail in the following pages.
Also in the Learn section, Bostwick and Rymill present an introduction to the four main ingredients in beer: water, malt, hops, and yeast. Shown here is the duo's Field Guide to Hops.
Before you make beer, you need to decide what kind to brew. This handy Flavor Ballpark graphic can help. Like your beer bitter and sweet? Then a barley-wine is for you. The chart appears at the beginning of the Make chapter and is followed by recipes for each of the ten identified types of beer. Once you've mastered the basic recipes, you can improvise. Bostwick and Rymill suggest a slew of herbs, spices, sugars, fruits, and other tasty additions. Each recipe is designed to yield a one-gallon (or nine-bottle) batch, thus making it perfect for homebrewers with standard residential kitchen setups.
Even Bostwick and Rymill still admit to occasionally brewing a batch of not-so-tasty beer. One of the most useful sections of their book is the Tasting and Troubleshooting chapter. Does your beer taste like soy sauce? Reference the troubleshooting chart, which will tell you that the problem is sulfurs and the solution is to "rack or bottle your beer sooner, and try to minimize the amount of yeast you rack in your bottles."
As part of their research, Bostwick and Rymill took a six-week road trip across the U.S. They visited more than two dozen craft breweries, seven of which they feature in the book with brief interviews. Shown here (top spread) is Lauren Salazar, a sensory trainer and blender at the New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Colorado. The bottom spread shows pages from the Design chapter, another section that sets Beer Craft apart from other homebrewing books. Here, you'll learn how to create your own labels, caps, and more. "If you spend hours making a cake, you might what to frost it or put it on a nice plate to make it look good," Rymill says. "It's the same with your beer."
Last but not least, you'll want to keep a record of your best brews. The Beer Record lets you take notes so you can replicate your favorite combination later. Bostwick and Rymill say it only costs about $50 to outfit your kitchen with the necessary equipment to start brewing (and then another $5-10 in ingredients per subsequent batch). The list of materials needed is in the book and supplies are available from your favorite local or online homebrew shop. Even if you don't plan on making your own beer, the design, interesting facts, and plain readability of the book makes its worth adding to your library. So grab a copy and grab a glass, and bottoms up!
Join us in Los Angeles for Dwell on Design 2011, and catch Bostwick and Rymill on stage chatting beer and book design on Sunday, June 26.