Gardening for the Homebrewer – Book Review

Gardening for the Homebrew

Gardening for the Homebrewer: Grow and Process Plants for Making Beer, Wine, Gruit, Cider Perry and More outlines an enormous variety of plants that can be grown at home for inclusion in your homebrew.  Wendy Tweton and Debbie Teashon discuss several categories of plants to allow you, the homebrewer and gardener, to become the best green thumb and brewer in the neighborhood!

What we really like about this book is how it covers not only the obvious plants for homebrewing but also some plants that may not be typically thought of as something a homebrewer can grow.  If you’re like us, we aren’t gardeners.  In fact, we could probably kill a cactus; but this book outlines the requirements for all the unique plants that could be used.  Of course there is an extensive section on growing hops, which makes sense because it’s the first plant that most homebrewers think of as something to grow.  The hops section calls out the specific regions where the plant will thrive in addition to advice about watering, nutrient additions and planting/harvesting schedules, which would help anyone be able to maximize their yield.

Another main ingredient for homebrews that is covered in this book is growing your own barley.  While this may seem obvious to some, to us it was a revelation.  Why couldn’t a homebrewer have a small plot in his garden with everything that he needs to create a beer with a truly local terroir?  If you harvest and malt your own barley everything could come from your own patch of earth!  This book provides the necessary information to start growing your own grains… however, the post-harvest processing information is not covered.  For complete info on malting your own grains, check out Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse.

The other plants discussed in this book take a step on the wild side, like growing herbs and spices that can be added to your brews, meads and ciders.  How about making a traditional gruit?  Tweton and Teashon give specifics about most of the ingredients that you would need for this unique fermented beverage, some would say the pre-cursor of modern day beer.

Overall this book gives us, the non-gardener, hope that we have a green thumb and can begin growing our own additions for our beers.  If you have a garden at your house and brew your own beer, there is no reason that this book shouldn’t be on your bookshelf.