My new book

As I had previously mentioned here, I’ve been working on a book about historic German and Austrian beer styles and how to brew them at home. Finally, today was the big day: the book is finally published! It’s called “Historic German and Austrian Beers for the Home Brewer” and can be purchased on Amazon as an e-book. You can get it here on Amazon.com, here on Amazon UK, and here on Amazon Germany. If you’re from another country, just search for the book title on your country’s Amazon website.

I decided to go the route of self-publishing, and went for exclusively publishing it for Amazon Kindle. You don’t need a Kindle e-book reader to read it, there are also mobile apps and desktop apps for Windows and Mac available for download. While this locks the book into the Amazon platform for the next 3 months, it also gives me, the author, more options to earn royalties. Not that I expect to earn a lot of money from this…

Work on the book started in November 2016, shortly after I had released my previous book which is shorter, in German and has a broader focus. The overwhelming feedback back then was that there was a huge interest in historic beer recipes from non-German speakers, so there was really no other option than to prepare the content in English, but very quickly turned into just focusing on German and Austrian beer styles and researching them much more in detail.

Due to a change in jobs in the middle of 2017, I didn’t put much effort into the project for several months, and only picked up work on it again towards the end of last year. So, part of my new year’s resolution for 2018 was to release this book within the first quarter of the year, which I’ve successfully managed. In the end, it was quite a bit of work to clean things up and get everything right. Thanks to everyone who was willing to proof-read the book beforehand and give me some feedback!

To give you a few insights into my nerdy ways of creating the e-book, let me describe my workflow. Just skip this paragraph if you’re not into geeky e-book software for programmers. Essentially, I used the Markdown format to write my book, with one file per section. It’s a simple text-based file format for documents which can then be converted into a number of other file formats by using various different tools. One of them is called pandoc, and is probably the most powerful converter of text file formats. It does a pretty good job converting a bunch of Markdown files to e-books, in particular the epub format. I also used it to produce a PDF file for easier reviewing, and used a tool named kindlegen to convert the epub file to .mobi, which I ultimately uploaded to Amazon for publishing. To build all these files, I used an old-fashioned Makefile, so whenever I edited any of the Markdown files, a simple “make” command rebuilt all files (.epub, .mobi, .pdf). To create the cover design, I used gimp. The cover image was painted by Eduard GrĂźtzner in 1912 and in the public domain. I downloaded it from Wikimedia Commons.

All in all, it was a great experience to work on the book. I learned a lot myself, discovered lots of interesting and exciting details about German beers, and I hope this e-book helps me get the word out that there is a side about German beer culture that goes way beyond the typical association of pale lager beers, Pilsner, and Bavarian wheat beer. That side has long been neglected, and was mostly replaced by modern lager brewing, but just that the fact that historically, there has been a beer tradition that is entirely different from modern German beer, is worth celebrating and worth spreading the word about. And my book is just a glimpse, there were literally hundreds of local beer styles around, while my book can only cover those for which specific recipes were preserved and documented. Unless more historic sources are uncovered, many old German beer styles may be lost.

So, if you’re a homebrewer, or a craft brewer, and you’re interested in exploring something new that is actually old, read my book, brew these beers, and help these styles have a revival. It worked for Gose, a beer style that was functionally extinct for several decades, and is now one of the most popular beer styles of the international craft beer scene, so I think it can work for other German beer styles, as well.

What will my next project be? I don’t know yet. I haven’t really thought about it. But I’m pretty sure something will come up, some topic that I will eventually find interesting enough to write about. Until then… read my book, and if you like it, spread the word. 😉

9 thoughts on “My new book”

  1. While I have a Kindle, all my beer books are in dead tree format. I’d rather a dead tree of this too, can you do printing on demand once you Amazon lock out expires…?

    1. Amazon has a print on demand solution as well, and since many people have asked about a paper copy, I’m currently looking into how I can format it nicely so that it looks worthy to be printed. I’m on holidays for quite some time starting next week, so I won’t be able to do most of the work on this until April, unfortunately.

  2. Hello Andreas!
    First off, awesome book! I really enjoyed it! I look forward to brewing these recipes and digging into your German language material as well.
    I have a question though with regards to the Braunschweiger Mumme. You mention that all recipes are made for a 5 gallon batch at the beginning of the book. I see that for this recipe you are essentially doing a full volume mash with 6.25 gallons. However, you say to boil the wort until you only have 2.5 gallons remaining. Is that correct? Assuming something like 0.5 quarts/lb of water loss during the mash, you should have about 4.56 gallons left after mash. So we would boil off 2 gallons then? Then adding in the extract, we would only have 2.75 gallons of wort to ferment.
    Just curious and sorry if this isn’t the right spot to post. I plan to make this a late fall/early winter beer for this year and wanted to get the recipe down.

    Thank you for your time!
    Mark Winters

    1. Yes, the Braunschweiger Mumme recipe is different simply because it starts with an intensely high strike water volume. When I originally converted it to the same size as all other recipes, it started off with 12.5 gallons of strike water. I think that’s a volume so large that a lot of homebrewers won’t have a vessel large enough to easily fit the whole mash in, so I divided it in half to make it easier to handle, and then added the comment to boil the wort down to 2.5 gallons. I had assumed that specifying the target volume in the recipe would make it clear enough that that particular recipe was different from all the others. Sorry if that wasn’t clear enough in the book. I hope that answers your question.

  3. Hi. I’ve read your book and found a curious quote about Mailänder Bier. Where did you get this information? I couldn’t find any bibliographic note related to that point. It would be interesting to find the source of this quote. Best regards

    1. Mailänder Bier is occasionally mentioned just by name, but not much further information, e.g. here: https://books.google.de/books?id=xjRO5w914_cC&pg=PA360

      The sentence translates to “Of beer there are three types in Vienna: the Mailänder-Bier, the White-Beer, both from barley and hops, and the Horner-Bier, a very thin, cooling drink, from wheat and a bit of cream of tartar.” No other information.

      Same author, later edition: https://books.google.de/books?id=vbAAAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA330

      Luftbier, Horner Bier and Mailänder Bier are described as having completely disappeared in recent years (the publication is from 1816), and that the commonly brewed beers are Bavarian beer, Regensburger beer, English beer, Märzenbier, etc.

      Other sources (of which I don’t have full sources) describe it as paler than other beers, and “smells like beer, tastes like wine”. It’s unfortunately one of those historic beers of which we only know the name, and really not anything else.

  4. I’ve read the book and found a quote about Mailänder Bier. Would really like to know where did you get this information, since I couldn’t find any biblipgraphic note related to it.

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