A close friend and colleague in the history department where I teach is an avid home brewer. With The Home Brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer, at last, there’s a book of beer recipes that will satisfy both our thirst for history and our, well, thirst!
In Ron Pattinson’s new book on vintage beer, you will find well-researched biographies of many of today’s most popular ales and beers, along with recipes that are straight-forward and easy-to-follow. Despite the author taking a somewhat comprehensive view to the basics of brewing, this is not a book for home brewing beginners. The title is appropriately worded and should be understood to refer to reader like my friend, who has brewed many cases of (mostly) fine suds.
The author also operates on the assumption that his readers enjoy a range of styles of old world beers. If ‘IPA’ and ‘Porter’ are not already in your vocabulary, you may not be quite ready to explore the ‘vintage’ in the title. Pattinson has reached back as far as the 17th century to locate the origin, and wherever possible the recipes for, ales and beers of some hundred or so varieties. Even for those in craft beer havens such as Oregon and Colorado, the familiar gives way to the truly obscure. For this reader, the journey is a delight, both for the beer history and for the historical context in which the author places origins and developments of the many brews.
Pattinson’s focus on the ales of Great Britain is most welcome, as our own American pub culture owes its character mostly to our dear cousins the Brits. In a nod to what many would call paying due respect, the final chapter features a selection of European brews of similar provenance, ales made to exacting specifications.
Neatly organized and written in an accessible style, The Home Brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer is a welcome addition to beer literature, whether propped on the counter as a recipe is followed by an experienced home brewer or simply propped on a beer belly by the summer poolside, a cold one by your side. – Jeff Thomas, RFT Contributor