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True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home

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This accessible home-brew guide for alcoholic and non-alcoholic fermented drinks, from Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn's Emma Christensen, offers a wide range of simple yet enticing recipes for Root Beer, Honey Green Tea Kombucha, Pear Cider, Gluten-Free Sorghum Ale, Blueberry-Lavender Mead, Gin Sake, Plum Wine, and more.

You can make naturally fermented sodas, tend batches of kombucha, and brew your own beer in the smallest apartment kitchen with little more equipment than a soup pot, a plastic bucket, and a long-handled spoon. All you need is the know-how.  
That’s where Emma Christensen comes in, distilling a wide variety of projects—from mead to kefir to sake—to their simplest forms, making the process fun and accessible for homebrewers. All fifty-plus recipes in True Brews stem from the same basic techniques and core equipment, so it’s easy for you to experiment with your favorite flavors and add-ins once you grasp the fundamentals.  
Covering a tantalizing range of recipes, including Coconut Water Kefir, Root Beer, Honey–Green Tea Kombucha, Pear Cider, Gluten-Free Pale Ale, Chai-Spiced Mead, Cloudy Cherry Sake, and Plum Wine, these fresh beverages make impressive homemade offerings for hostess gifts, happy hours, and thirsty friends alike.

192 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2013

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Emma Christensen

6 books5 followers

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5 stars
198 (35%)
4 stars
254 (46%)
3 stars
83 (15%)
2 stars
16 (2%)
1 star
1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews
Profile Image for Harris.
991 reviews27 followers
March 3, 2016
Recently, I’ve gotten it into my head to try out some homebrewing and after requesting a whole shelf of do it yourself beer brewing treatises from the library, both basic and advanced, Emma Christensen’s “True Brews” came to be my favorite. I will probably invest in a copy! True Brews is a great place to start, with Christensen’s clear explanations detailing basic instructions and recipes for a beginner to quickly start doing their own homebrewed beverages, including the equipment and ingredients needed, as well as tips for more unique and difficult projects.I liked that “True Brews” did not focus on one specific brew, but included a variety of fermented beverages to try out, alcoholic and non-alcoholic; sodas, kombuchas, kefirs, ciders, beers, meads, wines, and even sakes. I also appreciate her focus on one gallon recipes, easily accomplished in even the most cramped apartment kitchens; this also allows for a lot of tinkering with recipes as well.

I scored some high quality unpasteurized Door County apple juice last October, so for the past few months I’ve been processing it into cider; cracked it open for a holiday party and it turned out to be not too disappointing; very crisp and boozy, not bad for a first attempt! I’m also planning a chai-spice mead for my next main brewing project. I also love how Christensen’s recipes are both specific enough to be followed by someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing (like myself), but also open enough to be almost immediately hacked for specific tastes; the “master” soda and “master” beer recipes, in particular, are ripe for just about anyone to start up some improvisation and experiments. I started out with my own experiment on the soda front, a pumpkin spice soda brewed up with roasted pumpkin, lemon juice, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg; one taster called it “fall in a bottle.” I’m going to try a cranberry ginger ale this week, (basically, I am a fan of all things ginger), and I'm going to try an improvised beer, a extra special bitter ale, based on the master beer recipe as well. Really, I’m inspired to try something new every time I crack the cover!
Profile Image for Valerie.
68 reviews
September 25, 2013
The sodas and fruit wines seem pretty easy. I like her descriptions before each recipe and the interviews with experts are helpful.

**Edit 09/10/13**
I just did one of the beer recipes and I probably wouldn't do it again. I like small batches because I can lift them on my own, but a 1 gallon batch is too small for all the work. I only got 9 bottles out of it and a 2.5 gallon batch is probably the same amount of work and you can get about 22 bottles out of 2.5 gallons. The Naked Brewer: Fearless Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Rule-breaking Recipes has really good 2.5 gallon batches. I am sure you can brew 2.5 gallons if you live in a small space.

**Edit 09/24/13**
Yes, I am editing this again. So I made the Apricot Wheat Ale (I actually used peaches instead of apricots) and it's really good. I will try brewing other beers from this book, but I will double the recipe next time. I'm sad that I only have 8 bottles left of this delicious beer! I also made two of the sodas in the last week and the soda recipes take less than 30 minutes. I'm adding a star.
Profile Image for Gloria Chavira.
41 reviews1 follower
August 12, 2014
Great recipe book on fermented drinks. I use the kombucha recipe at home and my brew is delicious.
Profile Image for Irka.
57 reviews2 followers
March 4, 2018
Parece muy claro en casi todos sentidos (para quien recien empieza, como yo). Ya mismo me dan ganas de comenzar a experimentar con algunas recetas básicas, e ir complicándome un poco a medida que avance.
Lo bueno de True Brews es que no solo trata de cerveza. Se usa más o menos el mismo equipo para todo, así que si uno quiere probar hacer otra cosa, tiene a mano (en este libro) varias recetas para divertirse a mares.
33 reviews3 followers
March 1, 2018
Emma Christensen covers all types of brewed beverages in this book. I started out brewing beer a few years back and I have since brewed some various wines as well . This covers other beverages such as home brewed sodas, keifer, Kumbacha, hard cider, mead, and Sake.

True Brews is a great book if you are looking to learn about all the types of home brewed beverages you can make at home. There are a lot of great tips in the book on the process and a few different recopies for each type of beverage. I am really interested in trying the blueberry-pomegranate wine and the blueberry lavender mead.

If you want to learn more in depth information about one particular type of brewing this may not be what you are looking for. There are other books that go into more detail and Emma has some of those she has written herself, but this is a very good book.
13 reviews
March 8, 2019
The primer on fermented liquids

The basics for how to make and troubleshoot your own sodas, kombuchas, kefir, beer, mead, sake, cider, and fruit wine, while helping newbies avoid common pitfalls. Accessible, well-written, a great gift for anyone you love who has expressed interest in doing any one of these themselves because once you understand the concepts, you might as well make it all yourself.
Profile Image for Amanda.
714 reviews
March 19, 2021
I am an elementary teacher so I am accustomed to reading a ton of picture books. Thus, when I am reading a how-to book like this I would prefer a few more photos to illustrate some of these unfamiliar items. Despite the slight lack of pics, there is still a ton of great easy-to-read info.

I got this book because I was looking for some kombucha home brew info, but I can't wait to try the ginger soda and hard cider recipes once I get some yeast!
Profile Image for Siriusly.
128 reviews
May 1, 2019
I dinged a star because some of the recipes are unnecessarily "complicated" for an absolute beginner. I say complicated because the author adds steps, ingredients, and supplies that aren't really needed to get fermenting. Like Campden tablets, yeast nutrients, tannin. Other than that, this book is a great, quick introduction into fermenting beverages - even soda.
Profile Image for Linn Chapel.
Author 7 books17 followers
October 14, 2019
This is a fantastic book that's been guiding me through the mysteries of brewing. So far, I've learned how to make homemade soda - to my kids' everlasting delight - and brushed up on my Kombucha skills. Next I hope to try some hard cider and mead. The author Emma Christensen has packed a lot of carefully tested info into the chapters of her book with a sure hand and a breezy style.
Profile Image for Lauren .
1,701 reviews2,298 followers
May 8, 2017
Great recipes and instructions for all sorts of fermented drinks. I've used it for two batches of kombucha, and consulted it for some beer - also will use for some cider and mead later this year! A good primer text if you're interested in the subject!
Profile Image for Jenn..
134 reviews
July 30, 2022
Borrowed hard cover book from DC Library.

Beautifully illustrated and easy to follow. I pulled out at least 9 soda and kefir recipes that I am excited to try and will be checking this book out again if ever I venture deeper into home brewing.
Profile Image for James Piss.
148 reviews1 follower
October 16, 2022
this doesnt teach how to drink the thing s you makw??? like i have a bunch of stuff in my house that i cant do anything wtith now. ui called my buddy mark about it but he jsut said what i made didn't sound like a drink, more like a drink
Profile Image for Meg.
13 reviews
September 27, 2018
Incredibly useful. I read this cover to cover and refer to it constantly. Great recipes and general how-to information.
Profile Image for Sarah.
616 reviews65 followers
July 30, 2019
It was interesting to learn how to make homemade soda, and to learn about kefir and kombucha, but I wasn't really interested in the book beyond that.
Profile Image for Erica.
Author 4 books52 followers
March 7, 2021
supportive of all kinds of cultures. nice ideas for second ferment additives to kombucha.
Profile Image for Amanda.
86 reviews2 followers
April 21, 2021
👍 My husband is an avid brewer and I wanted to learn more about the ins and outs as well as brewing non-alcoholic beverages. This is a gorgeous, approachable DIY.
27 reviews
January 1, 2022
Great and succinct resource for brewing at home, especially if you're interested in kombucha (and growing your own starter from scratch).
Profile Image for Amy Bradley.
630 reviews7 followers
December 31, 2016
A good introduction to creating fermented beverages with over 50 recipes, non-alcoholic as well as alcoholic. Some I was not interested in (beer, for example holds no interest for me), but others are interesting to consider.

One point of confusion for me was that the blurb of a recipe mentioned that x number of pounds of fruit would make x quarts of juice - but the recipe was in cups. (After looking it up, the number of quarts was equivalent to the number of cups - but as a non-American, quarts are not a measurement I am accustomed to).

Some recipes I would love to try are going to take a bit of work, as they call for ingredients I have not been able to source locally (such as mead specific or liquid yeasts), and am unsure how they would survive shipping in the mail in Canada.

Most unexpected were the recipes for sake - intellectually it is fermented and therefore could be done, but to have the steps broken down was fascinating, especially the advanced sake recipe, where ingredients are added incrementally over several days.

Also of note is a recipe for hard lemonade - another incremental recipe, to overcome the yeast's preference for not overly acidic environments.

All in all, clearly written and laid out, and a good resource.
Profile Image for Dana.
46 reviews2 followers
August 7, 2015
I wouldn't recommend this book for someone looking to learn about Kombucha brewing. Although I'm still new myself, and I know there are a variety of different ways to make Kombucha, the directions differed quite a bit from several other consistent practices I've seen in other books. They also overlook important things, i.e.; they recommend using a cheese cloth to cover your jar (countless books, brewers, and websites say it's not ideal as it allows fruit flies in), nor do they tell you what water temperature is ideal to steep different teas. Those things matter and can greatly affect the outcome of your kombucha.

I can't speak to the other sections as they aren't what I'm looking for. If you're interested in Kombucha recipes/books, I'd look elsewhere.
Profile Image for Andrew Reed.
2 reviews
November 24, 2013
True Brews has become my home brewing bible, albeit it's my main and only resource apart from information I get from the internet. I work at a bookstore and have chosen True Brews from a number of options available to me and for a beginning brewer it has served it's purpose in every way. I have tried each recipe provided for ciders and I am currently venturing into kombacha with fruit wine hopefully in the near future. The book is laid out in a simple and easy to follow style providing the reader with the basics of home brewing before delving into the recipes. I would highly recommend this book and suggest if you do pick it up try the Sweet Spiced Mulled Cider.
Profile Image for Alexander.
13 reviews2 followers
March 28, 2014
True Brews is an excellent addition to any serious (or casual!) homebrewer's collection. The small batch sizes make it easier to take risks and experiment on recipes, and the author's inclusion of "Master" recipes are a great jumping off point for brewing something unique. Most importantly, the recipes work! I have brewed about 6 batches from recipes in True Brews, and I have yet to encounter a dud.
Profile Image for Sarah Brown.
5 reviews
July 14, 2016
"True Brews" gives you straightforward recipes and useful tips/tricks for brewing a variety of fermented beverages. I primarily picked out this book because I recently started brewing Kombucha and was looking for a few new recipes; however, we also brew beer and I found that chapter to be very helpful as well. It's simple and to the point. I feel encouraged to dive into another fermented beverage realm. Maybe mead!!

"The scoby IS weird." -- Yes. Yes, it is. =)
Profile Image for Sean.
14 reviews
July 25, 2013
Want to get into homebrewing but don't want to deal with massive five-gallon batches? This is the book for you. Christensen's simple descriptions, vivid photography, and manageable batch sizes to a great deal to make homebrewing much less intimidating to novices to the hobby. Plus, it has plenty of recipes for non-alcoholic beverages if the hooch isn't completely your thing.
Profile Image for Sam.
126 reviews
August 13, 2013
Fun and informative book, especially about Kombucha. It gave a little a little less information than i hoped for Water Kefir but many recipes if I chose to figure that whole situation out. If I ever get over being nervous about growing a Scoby, I will probably check this book out again for the tasty Kombucha recipes!
Profile Image for Jennifer.
891 reviews22 followers
April 6, 2015
An okay intro to different types of homebrews, but overall just felt a bit flat to me. (pardon the pun)

I admit to a snobby eye roll when I was looking over the acknowledgements page and saw a San Francisco homebrewer thanking MoreBeer. Please go support your local supply stores! Brewcraft, Oak Barrel, Fermentation Solutions are great places to shop from!
Profile Image for Heydi Smith.
2,841 reviews7 followers
December 9, 2016
I've been looking for a simple book that can tell me about kefir and kombucha, in terms I can understand. This book was just the ticket. Not only did I understand their instructions but it also provided troubleshooting tips and recipes to use the fermented drinks in or change their flavor profile.
Profile Image for Natasha  A..
490 reviews
June 17, 2013
Absolutely fabulous book.
We went looking for a book to learn how to make cider.
What we found was this, and it has opened our eyes to so many possibilities!
I had no idea you could make soda with yeast.
I had no idea what kafir or kombucha even was.
I can't wait to get started.
Profile Image for Word Owl.
28 reviews
June 27, 2014
Loved it! Her notes at the beginning of each chapter are both inspiring and informative! Entire review here.
Profile Image for Sagely.
234 reviews20 followers
June 1, 2015
Another great book that very accessibly presents a great variety of home-brew options. I'm excited to try making mead. I may even take the plunge finally with kombucha. Another book for the permanent brew shelf.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews

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