Brew Like a Pro: Make Pub-Style Draft Beer at Home
Ask those who started brewing their own beer at home back in the early ’90s who their go-to source of technical information was, and it’s likely they’ll point to Dave Miller. It was Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide that went on to become one of the most influential books on homebrewing ever published.
In the 20 years since writing his seminal work, Miller made the jump to professional brewing: first as brewmaster at the St. Louis Brewery, then at Blackstone Restaurant and Brewery in Nashville, TN. Along the way, his beers were frequently recognized in prestigious competitions such as the Great American Beer Festival (nine awards) and the World Beer Cup (five awards).
In his latest work, Brew Like a Pro, Dave returns to his roots with another book that is destined to inspire a generation of at-home brewers who yearn to follow in his footsteps. Dave’s professional insights and acumen, coupled with his homebrewer’s practicality, make brewing like a pro a very attainable goal for his readers.
This book is not particularly dense at 272 pages, but it packs a lot of good information into every chapter. Best of all, that information is presented in clear, concise and easy-to-digest language. Even in the most technical of passages, Miller breaks down the weighty details into simple explanations.
Looking over the table of contents, there’s an obvious path for the reader to follow. Miller’s plan is to draw on the similarities between brewing professionally at a small-scale commercial brewery and brewing at home for fun.
After a perfunctory review of the beer-making processes at the homebrewing level, Miller transitions in the next chapter to an insider’s view of a pub brewery. Here he does a walk-through of the equipment and components found at typical small brewery and how they function in the beer-making process. From there, he devotes the largest chapter in the book to providing detailed options for building a similar, but smaller, brewery in one’s home.
Add three more chapters on brewing materials (ingredients), homebrewing operations and advanced techniques, and you’re on your way to homebrewing heaven. Throw in “A Handful of Recipes” for a dozen standard beer styles, and you’re good to go.
Of greatest interest to the brewing nerds out there is the chapter on “Projects” for do-it-yourselfers. These six projects include making a lauter tun and hot liquor back, a two-stage heat exchanger and a pump speed control, among others.
All of this information is aided by a smattering of graphs and sidebars, and a lot of nicely rendered line drawings (although I found their faux sepia color a bit unusual). The one and only photo in the book is of the author in his early commercial brewing days.
In first looking this book over, I got only five pages in before concluding that I was going to like the remaining 267. It took only his explanation of why, when getting back into homebrewing after so many years away from the hobby, he didn’t want to just buy a complete pre-made brew system. Miller writes:
“I wanted to do something different. I’ve always had a minimalist streak, which I suppose is a euphemism for being cheap. I blanch at the prices of these ‘ready-to-brew systems.’ I wanted to demonstrate, first of all to myself, that you don’t need all that to make first-class beer.”
I think that pretty neatly sums up Miller’s homebrewing philosophy as well as one of the guiding objectives of his new book. Check it out.