April 10, 2013

What Ales You: Fisher brothers wrote the book for the beginning brewer

The second edition of 'Brewing Made Easy' came out in February.

By TOM ATWELL

Two Winterport brothers have just published a book for beginning home brewers.

click image to enlarge

The second edition of "Brewing Made Easy," by brothers Joe and Dennis Fisher of Winterport, reflects how making beer at home has evolved since the book’s first printing in 1996.

Courtesy photo

Joe and Dennis Fisher, who run an organic farm together, wrote the first edition of “Brewing Made Easy” in 1996. The second edition came out in February and costs $12.95.

“Our other book, ‘The Homebrewers’ Garden,’ has had an uptick in sales,” Joe Fisher said, “and that led to the second edition of this book, to reflect the changes in the hobby since 1996.”

The book opens with the basic equipment needed to make a simple batch of beer and a description of making that beer. And then it moves on, with a variety of more complicated recipes at the end.

“Most are fairly basic beginner to intermediate recipes,” Dennis Fisher said. “A few things we touch on are a little more complicated, but this is aimed right at the beginning brewer.”

The most important part of brewing beer, the Fishers say, is sanitation.

“Keep the germs out of the beer and don’t kill the yeast,” Dennis said.

They recommend using Star San, an acid-based foaming sanitizer that will not leave an off-taste in the beer. They disapprove of bleach, because it is hard on the environment and body, and has to be rinsed thoroughly. Star San is available at most home-brew shops.

The first recipe in the book is a bitter brewed with a can of hopped liquid malt extract, dry malt extract and flavoring hops followed by aroma hops and yeast once it has cooled. It’s fermented in one fermenter.

The second recipe – what they describe as “intermediate” brewing – adds whole grains to the mix, and teaches the reader how to use a variety of equipment that makes the brewing more exact.

The last third of the book contains 25 recipes for making a wide variety of lagers, ales, stouts, wheat beers and more.

What I especially like, however, are the various guides that are located throughout the book.

The guide to malt grains tells what characteristics each kind of grain will add to the beer. A guide for hops and yeasts does the same sort of thing.

A single-page Style Guide for Recipe Formulation gives you basic guidelines so you can create your own recipe for everything from a Californian Common Ale to a sweet stout.

The Fishers grow a lot of ingredients that they use in their home brews, including hops.

“We grow it for our own beer, but there is a commercial farm right over here in Monroe,” Dennis said. “If you’d told me 10 years ago that they would be growing hops commercially in Maine, I would not have believed it – even though Maine used to be a center for hops.”

The Fishers have grown barley from time to time, but it does not make economic sense for them. They could make a lot more money growing carrots.

What they do grow for their beer are adjuncts, such as ginger and other items. And they recall ruining a batch of beer by adding too much gentian.

“Brewing Made Easy” is available at the standard online booksellers, and should be available in most home-brew supply stores over the next couple of months.

I STOPPED BY IN’FINITI, 250 Commercial St. in Portland, on Friday. I had heard that this brew pub/distillery was coming a couple of months ago, and was waiting until it was fully running before I dropped by. But as its “soft opening” without signs on the street extended to almost a month, I could no longer resist.

This is a bar that brews its own beer and distilled liquors, and is a new operation by the owners of Novare Res.

(Continued on page 2)

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