The sustained ascent of craft brewing and continued popularity of home brewing, even after a 20-year honeymoon, has spawned cadres of proficient brewers, both professional and amateur. One byproduct of the movement is a veritable library of books, from rudimentary to sophisticated, from expansive to esoteric. Among the most useful are those that offer something for brewers in that savvy midsection; the skilled home brewer and prospective pro. In this respect, The Brewer’s Handbook may be worth a test drive.

Best described as a brewing encyclopedia, this digest is impressively comprehensive and thoroughly inclusive of virtually every facet of brewing. The seemingly daunting task of presenting brewing science and art in its entirety is accomplished by backing off a bit on overly in-depth minutiae and instead concentrating on matter-of-fact information. This is not an instruction manual about how to brew, but is informative enough to offer no-frills guidance on how to construct a beer recipe and make logical, educated decisions on brewing execution. Goldammer offers up the nuts and bolts, you do the building.

As a reference manual, the scope of this book is hard to beat. Each topic is approached in a very concise manner, but is addressed fully, to the point that it is impossible to find anything pertinent to brewing that isn’t covered to some degree. A quick look at the table of contents shows that Goldammer’s arrangement of topics flows as smoothly and logically as a well-planned, successful brewing session. Details are paid attention to, with the implication that individualistic choice is what matters most. A quick cross-reference between text and index shows nary a gap. In addition, chapters are well referenced for further reading.

One key inclusion in the book is an overview of beer styles. Though it doesn’t give actual recipes, it offers an historical and formulative synopsis of each, with style parameters and traditional ingredient profiles. I’ve always found this approach to cobbling beer recipes rather beneficial, as it invites intuitiveness and investigation, as opposed to blind pursuit. The result is a deeper, long-range understanding of crafting a brew.

Besides the expected subject matter, Goldammer presents more obscure issues such as waste management and regulatory concerns. The tables included at the end present fairly comprehensive information on hop varieties (quite extensive ), CO2 volume calculations, conversions of all manner, and a full brewing glossary. Absent is the serious scientific and specialized brewing approach, items that are covered in a myriad of other books.

Many brewers will appreciate the methodical, no-nonsense, far-reaching style of Goldammer, who simply lays the brewing cards on the table and lets you decide your method and strategy. The Brewer’s Handbook is definitely worth a gander as an intensive, thorough addition to the brewmaster’s library.