Tuesday 30 December 2014

American Sour Beers by Michael Tonsmeire

The bible of Brettanomyces has arrived at last!

I've long been searching out information on brewing with this bug. As the person who single handedly re-introduced brewing with Brettanomyces to Britain* I know how hard this information has been to find. Standard brewing books are useless, so mostly I've been scraping up whatever I can online, with Chad Yakobson of Crooked Stave by far the best source, though I should mention that the yeast book in the Brewing Elements series has three pages on brewing with Brett. 

Now Michael Tonsmeire, the man behind The Mad Fermentationist blog has written a book titled American Sour Beers which contains a wealth of information not just on Brettanomyces, but the other yeasts and bacteria found in sour beers too.

Despite the title if covers all the classic European 'sour' beer styles, and how they are produced, as well as looking in detail at how a number of American breweries make their sour beers. Each microorganism, and how they can be obtained, is discussed and both spontaneous fermentation and 100% Brettanomyces fermentation get their own chapters. Adding fruit and flavourings, ageing and blending are all covered, as well as a trouble shooting guide, and of course recipes.

As well as the author's own practical experiences, he's got a number of people to share the methods they use so there's a lot of experience to learn from in the book. Though my own interests are mainly in brewing with unusual yeasts reading the book has at least tempted me to start playing with bacteria as well. On a small scale in a separate fermenter though, as deliberately bringing bacteria that make beer go sour into your brewery is not something to be taken lightly.

This is the beer book of the year for me and it's a must read for anyone interested in mixed fermentations.

* One thing I've learnt from craft beer is it's best to make grandiose claims first and worry about the facts later.


  1. I shall be acquiring a copy of that book. Nice one, Ed. JC

  2. Ive read it over and over and only done one recipe so far!
    The best book I have read in a long while along with Experimental Homebrewing

  3. Thanks for the tip off about the book, it's excellent.