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All Posts, White Owl

Author Guest Post: John Shepherd

Making Your Own Beer

Quite a number of years ago, I started a craft brewery with an old friend. It came out of a conversation about ‘wouldn’t it be great to’ but looking back, what it really came from was a desire to make something and make something we cared about, in this case beer.

We are no longer connected with the brewery, we sold up and moved on earlier this year but left it in very good and very capable hands. But despite no longer being in the business, my love of beer goes on and this book is, in some ways, a reflection of that affection for all things beer-related.

When the opportunity to write this book came up, I wanted to pass on some practical advice around that ‘making something’ and making something you care about. But I really wanted it to be more than a self-help book. I wanted to try and explain a little bit more about the rich history of beers and how, in my opinion, we got to the beers that we have today. In short, I wanted to write a how-to book that was also an interesting read.

Whether I have achieved that will be decided by those who choose to read it but I could not get the image out of my head of a Christmas morning, my niece giving me my present and I open it up and it is a how-to book about home brewing. ‘Thanks, I say, that is something I have always wanted to try’. But then, it’s Christmas Day, I am not going to start brewing now am I? So I put the book to one side and open up something else.

The intention of my book is that on that Christmas Day morning, there is enough in this ‘How To’ guide about all things beer-related to ensure it is actually opened and read by the recipient of the gift. So, by the time lunch is served, the reader is now armed with all sorts of information about the acidity of hops, who started the craft beer revolution and some early theories on the workings of yeast.

Making beer really is an amazing thing and I have always compared it to, as I do in the book, skiing. In that it is a very hard thing to totally master but it is relatively easy to get downhill in your first attempt without disaster. That is why home brewing is such a great thing to do, it is relatively cheap and easy to get started and it is entirely realistic to be confident that you can make something. And make something you care about, in this case beer, and the really amazing thing is armed with a bit of knowledge, you can actually make the beer you want to drink.

Making something is an amazing power and if you enjoy the process and enjoy the end-product then it becomes even more powerful. Likewise, learning something is a great achievement but it can also be an enjoyable journey. In it’s own simple, humble way, my hope for this book is that somebody reading it will learn a little about how to make something but also take some enjoyment from that learning journey.

I think I should probably end with a “cheers”.

Make Your Own Beer is available to order here.