William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill always considered themselves pretty handy. Despite living in urban San Francisco, they made their own bread, roasted their own coffee and made their own pickles. They also drank a lot of beer. It's only natural that they decided to learn how to make their own beer.
"So we bought a kit and made a batch, and it exploded all over our tiny apartment. That's when we realized, there has to be a better way to do this," Bostwick, a former Shaker Heights resident, said in an email.
They read plenty of homebrewing books but found them to be boring and geared toward five-gallon batches, which they considered too much for their apartment.
"So we came up with our own technique (through LOTS of trial and error) for small-batch, one-gallon batches that lets us be creative, invent new recipes, try unexpected ingredients ... basically make the kind of beer we want to drink and beer you can never find in a store, with herbs and spices, seasonal fruit, that kind of thing," said Bostwick, a journalist and beer columnist for GQ magazine.
He and Rymill decided they could write a homebrew book for folks in similar situations: Beer Craft: A Simple Guide to Making Great Beer ($17.99 from Rodale Books). The colorful, 176-page paperback -- released earlier this year -- is filled with graphics, small batch recipes, advice from professional brewers, and even profiles of such high-profile brewers as Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co. and Ron Jeffries of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. Bostwick and Rymill write in a friendly style that educates while it entertains. They break down the brewing process and offer tips on everything from sanitizing your equipment to putting labels on your bottles. They even toss in some traditional hangover cures (Germans apparently swear by pickled herring).
"It was really important to us to make it fun and easy to follow for people, like us, just starting out," Bostwick said. "So the recipes are very simple, small-scale, and most of all, fully illustrated. Other homebrewing books are scary, especially for newbies, and we wanted to make brewing accessible."