The Fermentation Kitchen: Recipes for the Craft Beer Lover’s Pantry
By Gabe Toth, Brewer’s Publications, $19.95
My sense is that a lot of brewers also like to cook. We’re into recipes as communication—as sources of information that can be absorbed and adapted and refitted to our wants and interests. Most of all, we’re into making things that we get to enjoy tasting and consuming. We understand that we get more pleasure from it if we make it ourselves.
However, for the sake of argument, let’s say there are a lot of brewers out there who aren’t nearly as comfortable in their kitchen as they are in their garage. It’s plausible. This book—an excellent fermentation-themed cookbook—might well be tactically aimed at expanding their horizons and easing them into pastimes that are every bit as creative and delicious as their other one.
The Fermentation Kitchen is concise but offers breadth. In just about 150 pages plus the index, it manages to hit a range of our favorite things—bread (with an additional chapter devoted to sourdough), cheese, cured meats, hot sauce, kombucha, pickles (including sauerkraut and kimchi), and vinegar (including one made from porter or stout)—with each chapter offering a technical foundation, some need-to-know technique, and a series of different recipes. After an initial dive through the book in search of ideas, I’m looking forward to trying out some fermented mustard, some homemade feta, and a sourdough boule.
This is a book that will get some brewers and geeks into the kitchen to try new things. For the rest of us dabblers, there are plenty of ideas to pilfer and new directions to explore. As Gabe Toth writes, “The rabbit hole goes deep.”
The Beer Bible: Second Edition
By Jeff Alworth, Workman, $24.95
One of the beer world’s more indispensable references has been revised, and there are plenty of reasons why—but first, any book that attempts to capture such a varied and fast- moving topic can only be a snapshot in time.
Jeff Alworth (who is a regular contributor to this magazine) hasn’t overhauled The Beer Bible just for the sake of overhauling it. There were opportunities to increase the book’s relevance. Given the rapid and ongoing evolution of IPA, for example, he’s reclassified that section and expanded its subtypes. He’s added sections about Japanese sake—which is thoughtful—as well as European farmhouse ales, in light of new research that has expanded those vistas. There is a new section on diversity and the real cultural challenges troubling a brewing industry that has been very male and very white and yet would still like everyone to enjoy beer and feel welcome. Alworth also has updated the “Beers to Know” listings—ever-shifting sands in a variety-mad world with tens of thousands of breweries and counting.
If you don’t already have the first edition within easy reach on your shelf, it’s time to get acquainted. Even if you do, this new one has plenty of fresh substance to offer.