I suppose it’s about due since I have a strong desire to write about my favorite hobby in beer brewing. So please check out Bayou Beer which is a great name for a website focused around Louisiana beer and brewing.
I found myself looking at my rather large collection of beer and beer brewing books today thinking about how many just sat on the shelf or even discouraged me when I tried to read them before fully understanding what I was reading. Home brewing books vary! Some are easy to read and cater to the beginner while others border on textbooks with math, biology and chemistry that can make you feel like you’re back in college. So I’ve decided to give a “road map” if you will of what I’d suggest to someone getting in to beer brewing. Here are the books and resources I’d read, in order, to get to making great beer.
- How To Brew by John Palmer – If you want a preview of this great book it’s available online for free although it doesn’t have the artwork you get in the paid version. I still read this book today. I believe Palmer is considered to be the first great home brew book author or at least to me he is.
- Brewing Classic Styles – John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff. This book boasts 80 award winning recipes anyone can brew and it certainly backs this up. Once you get a handle on the How To Brew book the first thing you’ll want to do is find different recipes to broaden your horizons. Every style that exists is listed as well as keys to brewing that style of beer. It’s brief and not too thick with science as to make it a difficult read. A great step after digesting How to Brew.
- Listen to the Jamil Show from oldest to newest on The Brewing Network. Jamil Zainasheff has a great radio show and when it first started they went from style to style discussing each style for about 45 minutes on the radio. Listening to the philosophy on brewing from these guys is invaluable and I wish I would’ve stumbled upon it earlier. I was just introduced to it this year.
- Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels – This book is a tour of classic styles of beer, their history and how the recipes are formulated and brewed historically as well as how they are brewed at the National Homebrew Competition. When you get in to designing your own recipes this book is invaluable.
- New Brewing Lager Beers by Gregory Noonan – The title of this book is a little misleading because it isn’t about lagers. This is an advanced reference for brewers which really gets in to what it means to brew seriously. For me this was the book that felt most like reading a college textbook but it is interesting after you really understand brewing. I purchased it first and had to let it collect dust on the shelf for a couple of years after it hurt my brain. I came back to it after I’d learned everything above and it made a lot more sense and was fun to read.
- Radical Brewing – this is what you’re looking for if you want “inspiration” and fun facts to get in to creating your own unique recipes. Lots of history, philosophy and facts that will help you grow as a brewer.
- The Individual Books in the “Classic Beer Style Series” – This is a series of books by different experts each on an individual style of beer. I have bock and helles at the moment and they’re great beers on those individual styles. I purchase these books when I focus on a specific style.
That’s what I’ve got as a good road map to get started. If you make it through all that you’ll be well equipped to find what’s next. In addition to this I’d find a good beer brewing club in your area. The members can put you on to things you haven’t heard of yet and you all help each other grow together. I’d also find a good online community you like. Personally I love HomeBrewTalk.com. When I was new to brewing I’d post questions on this site while brewing and have an answer in minutes. A great site.
It’s not exactly like it’s something that hasn’t been solved in the past but in my experience people usually solve it for a solution “not what we’ve been missing around the office”. Here’s what we wanted it to do:
- Generate Microsoft Word documents programmatically.
- Generation is through a MVC 3/4(whatever) website. Basically ASP.NET
- Generate without installing Office on the server which is a big no-no that people typically end up ignoring and gambling with.
- Do it in a way that you can teach someone else to support and reproduce easily.
Well I solved it through delegation. By delegation I mean myself and the other developer lead had taken seperate 1-2 day stabs at the problem before we got overrun with business as usual and we finally got another resource we could delegate it to without his time getting consumed by some panicked manager worried about XYZ business owner on product ABC. I handed him the problem with a few possible solutions such as Open XML, Infragistics, Telerik, Automation Factory and some others who’s memory I’ve probably already drank away by now.
Well after a week or so of research our guy came up with using this:
Open XML SDK 2.0 for Microsoft Office (specifically the Open XML SDK Tool but yeah you probably want it all)
It works. Essentially you template out whatever you’re trying to produce in Microsoft Word and then run it through this tool. It will produce the C# code you need as a starting point to produce the documents you need. It’s great and head and shoulders over the Open XML tutorials/examples I’ve seen out there that only show you how to self code a 4 line Word document. You still have to doctor it some since it only produces code for the document you’ve templated out but it gives you an in depth starting point and really lays out some of the “layered” aspects of generating Word objects.
At a later date I hope to piece together an actual demo but for now this should help anyone with the same problem.