Start Your Own Brewing Lab with a Library
You don’t need a dedicated cleanroom and a master’s degree in microbiology to set up your own homebrew-scale lab; just a few books will set you on the path to elevating your brews with the power of science!
A good place to start is Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), says Jessica Davis, Quality & Innovation Manager at The Bruery (Placentia, California). A pop science journey through the human race’s obsession with ethanol, Proof is a book that will make you thirsty not only for some of the beverages Rogers describes in brisk prose but also for more details about the chemical reactions and biological processes at the heart of all alcoholic beverages.
The common thread among beer, wine, spirits, and every other alcoholic beverage is, of course, yeast, and there’s no better primer on the little buggers than Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff’s Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation (Brewers Publications, 2010). This book is part of the Brewing Elements Series, and you don’t have to be a microbiologist to get a lot out of it, though you might feel like one after you’ve read it. Written with the homebrewer in mind, a quarter of the book is dedicated to building an at-home lab, from how to pick a microscope to what to do with the cell counts once you’ve made them.
Once your microscope is set up and you’re counting cells and managing yeast cultures, turn your nascent lab into a homebrew-scale quality assurance program with help from Quality Management: Essential Planning for Breweries by Mary Pellettieri. Published by Brewers Publications, the guide is aimed at professional brewers (and is priced accordingly), but small breweries and serious homebrewers will benefit from implementing the processes Pellettieri details in the book.
Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® has a few online courses you will also find helpful. Check out Introduction to Evaluating Beer, Troubleshooting Your Beer, and Advanced Yeast Management at learn.beerandbrewing.com.