We chatted with a handful of local brewers (and beer enthusiasts) to share what they’ve read and which books helped guide their careers in beer.
ABV is our weekly series that highlights a different beer from a local Pittsburgh brewery every week. Check out our past picks here.
Hey there friends. This week in beer, we’re talking books.
To kick things off, here are a couple of book questions:
- How many books have you read so far this year?
- Will social distancing change the number of books you complete in 2020?
We’ve been thinking a lot about books these last few weeks. Which brings us to today.
If you’re into beer – and into books – why not read what the (local) experts are reading? Here’s a look at some of our local breweries and what the folks behind them are reading in their downtime.
These reading recommendations span the literary expanse from nerdy and science-based best practices for brewing beer, to the cultural, comedic and everything in between.
Cheers to staying home and cracking open a (beer) book.
ABV, volume LXII
Andrew Witchey // Dancing Gnome Beer
Andrew Witchey is the founder (and brewer) at Dancing Gnome in Sharpsburg.
Required Reading: Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation, by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff
Andrew says: I always enjoyed this book, and yeast plays such a huge role in all aspects of beer that it’s good for all levels. It’s definitely more on the educational side of things aimed at those who are interested in actually brewing. But it’s much more enjoyable than the other 3 in the series (hops, malt, and water).
Dave Hallam // Abjuration Brewing
Dave Hallam is the brewer at Abjuration Brewing in McKees Rocks.
Required Reading: The New IPA, by Scott Janish
Dave says: Hands down, the most recent book that enthralled me.
Matt Yurkovich // Allegheny City Brewing
Matt Yurkovich is the co-owner and brewer at Allegheny City Brewing in the Northside.
Required Reading: Joy of Homebrewing, by Charlie Papazian
Matt says: Joy of Homebrewing was the one we probably read and referred to the most. It really got us interested in experimenting with all-grain brewing back when we first started almost 15 years ago.
Another recommendation is McCarthy’s Bar by Pete McCarthy (about adventures in beer, in Ireland). I enjoyed the stories and the humor in the encounters of everyday people that made me laugh and want to own a bar.
Melissa Larrick // Hitchhiker Brewing
Required Reading: Lager, by Dave Carpenter
Link: Barnes & Noble
Melissa says: Because I am a purist at heart, and because this style goes so far back in the history of beer; Lager by Dave Carpenter is an amazing read for anyone who wants to dive into the history, the variations of lagers & pilsners and which type of glassware is best for enjoyment.
I really enjoy chapters 7 and 8 – they offer an in depth walkthrough of sensory evaluation. This book has helped guide me through blind taste testings, which will be useful when I go for my level 2 Cicerone exam.
Doug Foster // Aurochs Brewing
Doug Foster is the founder of Aurochs Brewing in Emsworth. He is medically required to follow a gluten-free diet and – alongside his team – brews beer that is entirely gluten-free. Learn more about Aurochs from our 2019 visit to their Emsworth digs.
Required Reading: Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher
Doug says: A few other recommendations include, Beer School: Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery by Steve Hindy & Tom Potter and Brewing up a Business: Adventures in Entrepreneurship (from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery) by Sam Calagione.
Additionally, Ryan Bove from the Aurochs team – who regularly reads beer books – chimed in with a couple more recommendations:
- Quench Your Thirst (Boston Beer)
- Beyond the Pale (Sierra Nevada)
- Brewbound (a beer industry podcast that recently featured Matt Katase from Brew Gentlemen)
Lauren Hughes // Penn Brewery
Lauren Hughes is the Assistant Head Brewer at Penn Brewery in the Northside. She is also an active member of Pink Boots Society (Pittsburgh Chapter) and a strong advocate for the advancement of women in the beer industry. We sat down to chat with Lauren on Ep. 6 of our podcast, which you can enjoy here.
Required Reading: Brewing Yeast and Fermentation, by Christopher Boulton and David Quain
Lauren says: I actually have a few favorites, categorized by homebrewing versus professional brewing. For homebrewing, I enjoyed How to Brew by John J. Palmer. For professional brewing – I would also recommend the Brewing Elements series by Brewers Publications and Technology of Brewing & Malting by Wolfgang Kunze.
Day Bracey // Drinking Partners Podcast
Day Bracey is co-host of the Drinking Partners Podcast. He is also a co-founder of Fresh Fest, the nation’s first beer festival focused on showcasing people of color in the craft beer industry.
You can read about some of the one-off collaboration beers that were featured at the 2019 edition of Fresh Fest here. Fresh Fest 2020 will be in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Required Reading: Pints and Panels, web series
Day says: Although I haven’t read any brew-specific books, I’m a visual learner and lover of comics. I get a lot from Pints & Panels.
"You can't make change from a place of comfort."
— Drinking Partners (@Partnerspod) March 6, 2020
Dyana Sloan // Roundabout Brewery
Dyana Sloan (and her husband Steve Sloan) are co-owners of Roundabout Brewery in Lawrenceville. Dyana is a native of New Zealand.
Required Reading: Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion
Dyana says: So, I have a bunch of beer books. However, my favorite is actually one of Steve’s. It’s traveled from Florida, to Fresno, CA to Saint Louis, MO to New Zealand, to Harrisburg, PA to Pittsburgh to Eureka, CA to Paso Robles, CA and back to Pittsburgh. It’s a well-traveled book. I’d describe it as old school. Just great recipes for pairing and cooking. Nothing fancy, just straight forward deliciousness.
Sean Biby // Grist House
Sean Biby is the head brewer at Grist House in Millvale.
Required Reading: Similar to Andrew from Dancing Gnome (above), Sean’s pick is Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation, by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff
Sean says: The book I would recommend is “Yeast: a practical guide to fermentation”. It was my main resource to develop technically sound fermentation practices and a good quality control program in a brewery. It’s also part of the brewing elements series, which includes malt, water and hops.