The history in this book is absolutely fascinating, and Mitch writes in a conversational style that's extremely approachable while remaining authorita...moreThe history in this book is absolutely fascinating, and Mitch writes in a conversational style that's extremely approachable while remaining authoritative. The section on specific brewing techniques for the various styles of IPAs is great, but the big disappointment for me was the recipes.
IPA has a couple dozen recipes for everything from the historical British IPAs of the 1800s to the modern craft brew American IPAs and double IPAs we all love today. Unfortunately, the recipes aren't very easy to follow, especially for an inexperienced homebrewer.
I imagine that most homebrewers make 5 or 10 gallon batches, and every recipe book I've ever seen (and I have seen a lot of them -- I own too many to ever brew all of the recipes in them) presents the malt bill and hop schedules in amounts that typical homebrewers use. IPA presents the malt bill as a percentage of the total rather than simply giving the totals needed for a 5 or 10 gallon batch. It's not the end of the world (it's easy enough to calculate using brewing software or a calculator), but it's a bit of a pain in the ass. Where the recipes [i]really[/i] fall short, though, is with the hops schedules. Most of these recipes don't tell the brewer how many ounces of hops to use, instead just listing something like "a combination of CTZ, Amarillo, and Simcoe" or "37% Cascade at 60, 14% Chinook at 30" etc. This is freaking book about brewing IPAs, and the most important component of the IPA isn't even clarified in the recipes! The only thing I can figure out is that we're expected to calculate a hops schedule by working backward from the target IBU, which is really goddamn difficult and makes me want to use any one of the other dozens of recipes I have on my shelf instead of figuring out how to do Blind Pig. It's a real shame, because the recipes given are for some of the greatest IPAs ever, including Stone Ruination and Sublimely Self-Righteous. I really wish this book, like Stone Brewing Co.'s Guide to Craft Beer: Recipes and Techniques from the Leading American Microbrewery, gave recipes for a 5 gallon batch of homebrew, with the percentages in a sidebar for those who wanted to scale up or down.
As a historical text, and as an addition to the homebrewer's library, IPA is a great book. As a collection of recipes that you can brew yourself, though, it falls very disappointingly short. If you're looking to get some understanding of the style, as well as augment your basic knowledge of brewing the style, it's great. If you want to open it to a recipe and head to the homebrew supply, you're going to be very disappointed.(less)
Like the first episode of any series, it took me quite a bit of time to figure out who the characters were, what they were about, and why I should car...moreLike the first episode of any series, it took me quite a bit of time to figure out who the characters were, what they were about, and why I should care about them. When I got all that figured out, and settled in for the ride, it was a lot of fun.
It's a great setup, though, and I can't wait to see where John takes them.(less)
I was hoping for something like A Voyage for Madmen, and that just isn't what I got. There's an interesting story here, but this particular telling of...moreI was hoping for something like A Voyage for Madmen, and that just isn't what I got. There's an interesting story here, but this particular telling of it comes across as an extended summary, rather than a real meaningful examination of this remarkable journey and the people who made it.(less)
House of Leaves isn't one of those tidy little things that holds your hand and wipes your bottom and tells you that you're special. It makes you work, and what you get out of it depends largely on how much work you're willing to do. House of Leaves is difficult at times, incredibly complex, occasionally pretentious, and (view spoiler)[ it doesn't neatly wrap up some of the biggest questions it raises (hide spoiler)].
When I finished it, I thought I was unsatisfied with (view spoiler)[the ending (hide spoiler)], but it lived in me long after I closed the book. I could not stop thinking about the characters, the puzzles, my various theories about the nature of the story and (view spoiler)[ whether Zampano existed at all, or was just invented by Johnny Truant. (hide spoiler)]
Here's the thing about House of Leaves: you can enjoy it simply as a horrifying story that could possibly be true. You could enjoy it as a love story on a number of different levels. You can enjoy it as a whole bunch of puzzles and codes and ciphers. You can enjoy it as a unique reading experience that will make you fall back in love with actual paper books.
But however you choose to enjoy it, you've got to just commit to it. Let the book's reality capture you, and ride it out until you finish the book. When you're done, you'll probably find that the House has taken up some space inside you, and you'll wonder if the nightmares will actually come, assuming they haven't already.
You'll go back to the beginning, and you'll reread sections large and small. You'll take a magnifying glass to the pictures and you'll spend a long time reading message boards that haven't been updated since 2004. You'll grab that copy of Poe's Haunted that you bought before you knew House of Leaves existed, and you'll listen to it again in an entirely new way.
You'll discover that you live at the end of a five and a half minute hallway.
Or maybe you won't. Maybe it won't live in you the way it lives in me... but it's worth your time to find out. (less)
I loved Sandman Slim so much, I picked this up the instant I finished it, and did not put it down until I had finished it. (In fact, I read it so quic...moreI loved Sandman Slim so much, I picked this up the instant I finished it, and did not put it down until I had finished it. (In fact, I read it so quickly, I didn't have a chance to put an entry here and track progress. I devoured it in 3 or 4 days.)
Kill the Dead doesn't exactly pick up where Sandman Slim left off. Instead, it's a while later, and we get to see what Stark's been doing since we last saw him. Richard Kadrey weaves an even more sinister and complex -- but ultimately satisfying -- story this time around ... and there are zombies.
If you enjoyed Sandman Slim, I think you'll be glad you read Kill the Dead. It has all the dark urban fantasy elements, and is even more of a classic noir tale than its predecessor.(less)
All this week, I'm reading Fuzzy Nation for the audio book. Once again, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to read a wonderful book, written b...moreAll this week, I'm reading Fuzzy Nation for the audio book. Once again, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to read a wonderful book, written by a wonderful author, and I get paid to do it.(less)