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 Grützner 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. 😉