craft beerAs the craft beer craze continues to sweep the nation, more and more people are deciding to try their hand at creating their own perfect brew. In Craft Beer for the Homebrewer, beer writer and certified cicerone (think sommelier for beer ) Michael Agnew merges the passions of consumption and creation into one definitive guidebook, designed for the craft beer lover who also happens to be a homebrew enthusiast.

Agnew presents dozens of recipes adapted by craft brewmasters for the homebrewer to make in his or her own kitchen, basement, garage, or patio. Based on the actual production beers of featured microbreweries, these recipes cover the entire range of beer styles – ambers and pales, IPAs, stouts and porters, Irish and Scottish ales, Belgians, and wheats – representing craft breweries from across the United States. Each recipe is accompanied by full-color photography, an ingredient list, instructions for both the mash and extract brewer, and historical and anecdotal notes about the brewery that provided it. Agnew prefaces the book with an introduction to the craft beer industry, briefly discussing the major ingredients and required equipment that homebrewers will encounter inside.

With its meticulous selection of delicious beer varieties, Craft Beer for the Homebrewer offers a beautifully designed collection of microbrews for the homebrewer on the cutting edge of the craft beer scene. (description from publisher)

Famous for its complex and flavorful coffees, Blue Bottle Coffee in New York delights its devoted patrons with exquisite pour-overs, delicious espressi, and specialized brewing methods. Yet as coffee production becomes more sophisticated with specialized extraction techniques and Japanese coffee gadgets, the new artisan coffees can seem out of reach. The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee explains this new world from farm to cup, exploring the bounty of beans available and the intricate steps that go into sourcing raw coffee from around the globe.

¬†Blue Bottle founder James Freeman coaches you through brewing the perfect cup of coffee, using methods as diverse as French press, nel drip, siphon, and more to produce the best flavor. For coffee lovers who want to roll up their sleeves and go deeper, Freeman explains step by step how to roast beans at home using standard kitchen tools–just like he did when starting out.

Rounding out the book are more than thirty inventive recipes that incorporate coffee or just taste particularly good with coffee, such as Saffron Vanilla Snickerdoodles, Stout Coffee Cake with Pecan-Caraway Streusel, Affogato with Smoky Almond Ice Cream, Coffee Panna Cotta, and more.

With more than one hundred stunning photographs showing coffee’s journey from just-harvested cherry to perfect drink, this distinctive and deep guide to the new breed of amazing coffees from one of the top artisan coffee makers will change the way you think about – and drink – coffee. (description from publisher)

beer exhibitBefore Red Bull and Monster Drink the victual of health around Davenport was a frothy mug of suds. There weren’t national brands in refrigerated trucks endorsed by athletes and scantily-clad models in the first half of the century. Each town had their own local brands, crafted by mustachioed laborers using recipes from the Fatherland.

For the 20 percent of Davenport Germans, it was a beverage steeped in tradition and culture, and one of the few remaining creature comforts they could control. They did so with a flourish as a number of brands sprung up in Davenport, including Mathias Frahm and Son, Koehelr and Lange (also known as the Arsenal Brewery), Littig Brohers, and Zoeller Brothers.

All of this information is featured in the latest exhibit at the German American Heritage Museum as you look at snapshots of the malthouse workers, tavern operators, and ancient conetop cans and vessels.

I found it to be a fascinating little tour and a great excuse to visit the GAHC for the first time, at the low Depression-era price of $2.