« on: February 16, 2013, 02:06:30 pm »
Just got and read this book Scotch Ale by Greg Noonan twice, highlighting necessary information the second time as brewing details are not given in the recipes. You need to infer from the text what hops to use and when to add them. NO recipes are all grain. Recipes are only given for "liquid extract", "LME and grain" and a recipe to brew a barrel of beer. Converting to all grain is not straight forward either. Converting the LME to grain of course requires adjusting the mash and sparge volumes as well, but to what? The author uses a thick mash in all the recipes that he says requires a MASH temp, NOT strike water temp of 172 F, then over sparging to help extract sugars. Do you calculate the grain and water for a thick mash? What is the value of a thick mash? Why mash and sparge at 172 F when most recipes mash at 150 to 155? Most recipes say NOT to mash above 170 F to avoid extracting tannins. How much water do you use to over sparge?
LME is then used to hit the SG. Grain is calculated at 68% efficiency with a correction given for 65 and 70%. What if you typically get 75 to 80% efficiency as I do? All of this math can be worked out but it would require digging for hidden inferences in the text on what ingredients to use and how to brew them and then apply guess work to the recipe. I did that, reading the text twice and highlighting important info, and still have to guess on the recipe. The author states there is no way to accurately account for mash and brewhouse efficiency that affect the volume of water to use without knowing the specific equipment being used. My set up is typical of a lot of AG brewers, a 10 gal mash tun and an 8 gal brew pot. Other recipe books account for various equipment profiles and their nominal losses. My guess is the author expects you to make your best guess, brew the beer and make adjustments on the next batch. We all do that to some extent but the recipe should get us very close to the style parameters the first time. Without knowing what yeast to add and when, how much grain to use or how much water to add and sparge with for an all grain recipe, it's all guess work.
To give the author his due, it is a very well researched book as to the history and evolution of this style with some representative but incomplete recipes from 25 and 160 years ago. It is an interesting, informative and entertaining book from an historical perspective, but that's where the book stops.
If you want a book that gives you SOME history on the style but focuses on how to brew with usable extract, partial mash and all grain recipes, this is not it.