Better Know A Beer Mag: Brew Your Own Magazine

18 03 2010

Brew Your Own Magazine

Brew Your Own: The How-To Homebrew Beer Magazine
March/April 2010 Edition
Independently Published

http://www.byo.com/

Overall Feel: I have been brewing for almost as long as I have been drinking beer. And I have been reading this magazine off-and-on for almost as long as that. This magazine is definitely not for the feint of heart. Nor is it for the run of the mill beer drinker. This is for that strange and wonderous member of the beer consumption community: the homebrewer. This month’s cover looks innocent enough. There is a pretty woman on a bike with a beer in her hand. And a headline: “6 Great Bicycle Themed  Beers Cloned”. To clone a beer is to attempt to recreate a commercially brewed beer at home. It takes great skill, creativity and a almost fanatical appreciation of ingredients. It is almost like saying, “Prego spaghetti sauce is good. I wonder if I could recreate it myself.” There are also articles called “Master Dry Hopping”: the practice of fermenting in hops. And “Build Your Own Tap Handle”. Unless you want to brew, there may be little here for you. But for brewers, it is nothing short of heaven.

Articles: There is a monthly feature where brewers send in pictures of their brewery set ups. Shiny pots, pans, copper tubing, Bunson burners, turkey fryers, keg-a-rators, all lovingly and painstakingly welded and tied together. There is an in depth conversation on the Lovibond Scale–The rating of toasting that malts receive. There is a question on how one brewer can refine his potato-based beer. As well as the articles mentioned on the cover, there is a look at how to improve head retention that goes down to the molecular level and includes physics equations. A homebrewer apprentices at his local brewery to find out, exactly, what he is missing from the Big Show (the answer: a lot more hard work, math, and precision). There is also a very convincing article encouraging brewers to become certified beer judges through the BJCP. (Ed. Note: The BJCP is where we get all the information for our Better Know Your Beer Style column). Unlike other beer magazines, no one can claim this magazine does not go deep enough.

Pictures: This magazine is made by home brewers for home brewers. For that reason, the pictures are not stellar. Most of them are done by amateur photographers with their digital cameras. There are no “sexy” bottle shots are sweat speckled pints. Instead, it is earnest shots of brew pots, mash tuns, grain mills, and fermenters. Now, if you are into that sort of thing, you will find it great. But for the average beer drinker, a pot is a pot. And there is no difference between one that boils beer and one that boils soup.

Highlights: In this case, “Highlights” is a relative term. As this blog is dedicated to the average thinking person, we will focus on things any one can get behind.

  • BYO recognizes the existence of women beer brewers and drinkers. They attempt us gender neutral language whenever possible. And interview some women brewers. The woman on the front cover looks like she is legitimately enjoying her beer, instead of being a prop to attract men readers.
  • Even for non-brewers, the 6 cloned bicycle themed beers is pretty cool. To be able to see all the different details that goes into a New  Belgium Fat Tire is pretty interesting. Even if you don’t know the difference between Munich Malt and Carapils Malt.
  • The article on becoming a brewer’s intern is sweet. And any one who appreciates good beer will come away with a new appreciation on how difficult it can be to make it.

Lowlights:

  • The only main low point is the fact that this magazine is not for every one. Unless you brew, it is very difficult to get excited about stainless steel kettles and gas lines. Likewise, do you really want to read three pages on how to improve head retention if you are only going to see the end point?

Who is the Magazine Good For?: It should seem obvious by now. This magazine is not for any one. It is for the brewer who wants to step up their game to the next level and enjoys reading about their hobby.

Rating: 4 out of 5. Fun read for the right target. For a free issue of BYO, please visit. http://www.byo.com/

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