I was first introduced to the work of Stan Hieronymus about five years ago when I got a hold of a copy of his seminal tome on Belgian brewing, Brew Like a Monk. Published in 2005, Brew Like a Monk explores the brewing of Belgian abbey-style ales to an unprecedented extent and changed the way that many American brewers approached those beer styles. Here was a writer who actually went to the monasteries and found out what the monks were doing, finally casting off the dusty robe shrouding the mysteries of monastic brewing. My entire perspective on Belgian brewing has been shaped by that book.
Then came Brewing With Wheat in 2010. It wasn’t the first book to extensively cover the brewing of Bavarian hefeweizen – Eric Warner’s German Wheat Beer had already done a great job of that – but it expanded the literature to cover the full spectrum of wheat-based beers, from Belgian and American styles that are commonly brewed today, to nearly extinct German styles such as grätzer and gose. Through all of this, Hieronymus’ commitment to the story of the brewer took center stage. He recognized that beers are made by people, and each style is a consequence of a brewer’s experiences at some point in history. I know at least one brewery that was inspired to craft an obscure style of wheat beer that they never would have otherwise because of this book.
Now we find ourselves in 2013 and Hieronymus’ most recent book, For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops, has just been released by Brewers Publications as the second edition in the four-part “Brewing Elements Series” which already includes Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation by White Labs founder Chris White and renowned brewer Jamil Zainasheff.
First and foremost, For the Love of Hops is a book for brewers; textbooks used at professional brewing schools don’t even have this kind of depth on hops. Everything that we currently know about hops in brewing is covered, starting from breeding and growing new varieties and ending with more detail about hop aroma in finished beer than most people will every fully understand. Hieronymus also provides a whole slew of brewer-contributed recipes which, perhaps surprisingly, cover some styles that we don’t necessarily consider “hoppy” beer styles. This wide breadth of knowledge sheds light on the optimal use of hops for any level of hop intensity and character.
If you make beer, you need to go out and get a copy of this book as soon as you are finished reading this article. You could actually go right now. You won’t hurt my feelings, don’t worry.
Non-brewers may find themselves a bit overwhelmed with brewing science terminology at times, but For the Love of Hops will still be an engaging read for anyone with a strong interest in beer. Hieronymus’ keen eye for finding the compelling narrative in his subject matter persists, whether it’s exploring the history of hops in beer, clear descriptions of just about every currently-used hop variety, or explanations of how brewers use hops to create the beers that we all love.