If you love beer but are intimidated by the gadgetry and science or turned off by stuffy dogma of the available brewing literature, fret not. I have found your book: author Jereme Zimmerman’s latest work, Brew Beer Like a Yeti: Traditional Techniques and Recipes for Unconventional Ales, Gruits and Other Ferments Using Minimal Hops. The volume arrives to help unpack and demystify (though notably not un-mystify) the beer brewing process for you.
In his first book, Make Mead Like a Viking (Chelsea Green, 2015), Zimmerman did the same thing for meads and various other ancient ferments; with his new book he returns to his original love of beer-making in a triumphant fashion.
Zimmerman is a bright and enthusiastic storyteller as he takes you through the often mystical, sometimes chaotic but always fascinating history of beer—through its folklore and traditions, its drinking songs and major players. He does so with infectious charm. You find yourself in the deepest nooks and crannies of the beer-making world yet utterly riveted by the details of, for instance, the life of yeast in our universe, or the role and encouragement of brettonomyces on the beer foam. In fact, it is when Zimmerman strides into the science that the book really takes you on a special and educational journey that is so easy and fun to read that it feels like you’re absorbing the information through a sort of literary osmosis.
Translating the dense science behind beer brewing into something interesting for the average person is not easily done, but Zimmerman seems almost innately equipped with this skill.
Another skill Zimmerman demonstrates is putting the process in perspective—that throughout history people have made a variety of different beers with a shocking lack of equipment or even understanding of how fermentation works, and so can you. There is something simply relieving to learn just how little it takes to brew a beer, and Zimmerman does not neglect to emphasize this.
Yes, you can get highly technical with beer-brewing, making masterpiece brews with all the refined edges to impress your friends. This book can help get you there. But this book will also just as easily teach you to simply brew some beer in a pot on your stove (or even a bag!) and it will taste familiar and be equally as fun to drink.
If I have a criticism of this book, it’s the use of the term Yeti in the title. Unlike the Vikings in his first book, which were an obvious representative for mead-making, the Yeti is a mythological creature with, to my knowledge, no specific attachment to beer history. Instead, it seems “Yeti” is employed because it’s a longtime nickname for Zimmerman himself, although gets little mention throughout the book. However, I will say that by the end, the Yeti becomes the perfect mascot for this book—a spirits animal, of sorts. It seems to fit perfectly Zimmerman’s own views on beer-brewing, eschewing the dogma of most brewing literature and instead embracing a little wildness.
Overall, this book is, to be sure, an excellent place to begin or continue your beer-making journey. It’s also a fun place to learn more about the history of one of the world’s favorite and arguably most important beverages. Either way, if beer is your thing, or you’d like it to be, this book should be among your next purchases.