Brew Better Beer: Learn (and Break) the Rules for Making IPAs, Sours, Pilsners, Stouts, and More

Brew Better Beer: Learn (and Break) the Rules for Making IPAs, Sours, Pilsners, Stouts, and More

by Emma Christensen


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


In this colorful homebrewing guide, The Kitchn’s Emma Christensen gives you the keys to the brewery. Start out by mastering the basic styles, like A Very Good IPA and A Very Good Porter, then move on to inspired variations such as Centennial Dry-Hopped Double IPA, Campari IPA, and Smokey Chipotle Porter to discover which flavors, infusions, hops, and yeasts work best with each ale and lager. Want to brew a signature beer with your own personal stamp? Go wild with the “Make It Yours” suggestions and try tossing anything from cherries to chai spices into your brew.

This handy manual also dives deep into the mechanics of brewing all-extract, partial-extract, and all-grain brews, and includes a big, beautiful photographic guide to brewing beer so you can see exactly how each step is done. You can brew small 1-gallon batches, perfect for apartment brewers and low-risk experimentation, or brew 5 gallons and have enough to share with all your friends. You’ll also be introduced to up-and-coming beer trends like rye malts, barrel-aging at home, sour beers, gluten-free beers, and Old World beer styles.

Filled with inspiring recipes like Riding Lawn Mower Pale Ale, Maple Cider Dubbel, Finnish Juniper Rye Sahti Ale, Figgy Pudding British Barleywine, and Farmers’ Market Gruit, Christensen’s accessible approach will have you brewing better beer in no time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607746317
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 05/05/2015
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 540,704
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

EMMA CHRISTENSEN is the recipe editor for the popular homecooking website The Kitchn (, and a graduate of the Cambridge School for Culinary Arts in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A former beer reviewer for the Columbus Dispatch, she is a dedicated home-brewer always eager for the chance to nerd out about fermentation. Emma lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. To learn more, visit

Read an Excerpt


My relationship with homebrewing did not get off to the best of starts. I was plenty eager and I had a lot of shiny new equipment, but an hour after returning from my first trip to the homebrew store, I felt completely and utterly baffled. I was also not in the kitchen; I was sitting on the couch in my living room with three different, slightly contradictory sets of brewing instructions laid out on the coffee table before me. My husband was tackling this new hobby with me, and neither of us had any idea where to begin or which instructions to follow or even how to move off the couch.

Once we formed a plan of action, the situation (unfortunately) did not improve. The liquid malt extract we’d purchased was roughly the consistency of tar and wouldn’t come out of the container. Our beer juice (which some, though not all, instructions mysteriously referred to as “wort”) took forever to come to a boil. And once it did, it continued to boil right over the side of the pot, extinguishing the burner’s pilot light and making a gigantic mess. My husband and I argued about whether the batch was ruined or if we could just add some more water and carry on—the first of many such stressed-out and frustration-fueled fights to follow. To date, some of our most ferocious battles as a married couple have happened while brewing beer.

Sound familiar? Maybe your first brew day (and possibly many others) went along similar lines. Maybe you’ve never brewed before and are reading this in horror, wondering what possessed you to ever think homebrewing might be “fun to try.”

Don’t worry. I’ve got your back. What you’re holding in your hands right now is the result of many years of learning and tinkering with how to brew beer at home—without the tears or cursing. My number one goal is to guide you through those first few brews—the ones where everything is brand-new, you have no idea what’s going on, and the potential for frustration is high—and into a place where you feel confident stepping into the kitchen with nothing but a bag of grains and a desire for beer. The title for this book is also a promise: I want to help you brew better beer.
Why homebrew in the first place? Because it’s seriously fun. Because it tickles your inner science geek. Because your first batch is instant membership into a fellowship of homebrewers that stretches back for eons. Because there is no finer feeling than flicking the cap off a bottle of beer, hearing that hiss of carbonation, and taking the first sip of a beer you brewed yourself. 

Table of Contents

Introduction   1
chapter 1: Know Your Ingredients   5
Malts   6
Water   10
Hops   10
Yeast   14
Other Fun Ingredients   16
Say Hello to the Beer Family!   19
chapter 2: Assemble Your Beer Kit   23
General Equipment   24
Brewing Equipment   27
Fermenting Equipment   28
Bottling Equipment   29

What to Expect on Your First Visit to a Homebrew Store   34
chapter 3: Brew Your First Beer   37
Bird’s-Eye View of How to Brew Beer   38
How to Brew an All-Extract Beer   40
All-Extract Amber Ale   49
How to Brew a Partial-Extract Beer   50
Partial-Extract Amber Ale   53
How to Brew an All-Grain Beer   54
All-Grain Amber Ale   62
A Photographic Guide to Brewing Beer   60
Should You Brew a 1-Gallon or a 5-Gallon Batch?   64
Chapter 4: Pale Ales   69
A Very Good American Pale Ale   71
Bitter Brit English-Style Pale Ale   72
Bitter Monk Belgian-Style Pale Ale   73
Pine Woods Pale Ale   74
Amarillo SMASH Pale Ale   77

What to Worry About,
What Not to Worry About   78

Chapter 5: India Pale Ales (IPAs)   81
A Very Good IPA   83
Centennial Dry-Hopped Double IPA   84
Double-Take Black IPA   86
Two-Left-Feet American Barleywine   87
Campari IPA   89
How to Pour and Taste Beer   90
Chapter 6: Brown Ales   93
A Very Good American Brown Ale   95
Pecan Pie Brown Ale   96
Brown Bear Seeks Honey Braggot   98
The Great Pumpkin Ale   99
Chai-Spiced Winter Warmer   101

Get Geeky with the Mash   102
Chapter 7: Porters and Stouts   105
A Very Good Porter   107
A Very Good Stout   109
Smoky Chipotle Porter   111
All-Day Dry Irish Stout   112
Affogato Milk Stout   113
Boss-Level Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout   114
Play with Your Hops   116
Chapter 8: British Ales   119
A Very Good British Mild   121
Tea Time Extra-Special Bitter (ESB)   122
High Seas British IPA   124
Sugar and Spice Strong Ale   125
Figgy Pudding British Barleywine   127
Brewing in Warm Weather,
Brewing in Cold Weather   128

Chapter 9: Belgian Ales   131
A Very Good Abbey Ale   133
Maple Cider Dubbel   134
Tropical Island Tripel   136
Fuzzy Nose Sour Ale   137
Peach Melba Sour Lambic   139
Get Funky with Sour Beers   140
Chapter 10: Scottish and Irish Red Ales   143
A Very Good Scottish Ale   145
A Very Good Irish Red Ale   147
Day Hiker Irish Red   148
Caramel-Coconut Wee Heavy   151
Smoke & Scotch Ale   152
Ten Small Habits That Will Make
You a Better Brewer   154
Chapter 11: Wheat Beers   157
A Very Good Wheat Beer (Hefeweizen)   159
Sweet-Tart Berliner Weisse   160
Salty Dog Gose   161
American Summer Wheat Ale   162
Lavender-Orange Witbier   165
Adding Fruits, Spices, and Other
Fun Things to Beer   166
Chapter 12: Rye Ales   171
A Very Good Rye Pale Ale   173
Dark Pumpernickel Roggenbier   174
Finnish Juniper Rye Sahti Ale   177
No Apologies Imperial Rye Ale   178
Red Eye Chicory Rye Porter   179
Five Easy Ways to Level-Up
Your Brew Game   180

Chapter 13: Session Ales   183
A Very Good Session Ale   185
Riding Lawn Mower Pale Ale   186
Watermelon Saison   188
Lemonade Stand Shandy   189
Farmers’ Market Gruit   191
How to Design Your Own
Homebrew   192
Chapter 14: Gluten-Free Beers   197
A Very Good Gluten-Free Pale Ale   199
Gluten-Free Saison   200
Gluten-Free Chocolate Porter   202
Jasmine Honey Sparkler   203 
Hoppy Hard Cider   205
The Real Deal with Lagers   206
Chapter 15: Lagers   209
A Very Good Pilsner   211
Spring Blossom Maibock   212
McNally’s Oktoberfest   214
Chocolate Doppelbock   215
Ode to San Francisco Steam Beer   217
Common Problems, Easy Solutions   218
Glossary: Homebrewer’s Lingo   222
Recommended Resources   226
Acknowledgments   227
About the Author   228
Index   229

Customer Reviews