Saturday 21 September 2013

A Workshop Manual for Beer

A long time ago, when I was much younger than I am today, I used to do nearly all of my own car maintenance. I enjoyed it, quite a lot. The pinnacle of this success was taking a Triumph Dolomite 1500 twin carb1 engine that had mangled a big end bearing, stripping it down, sending the crank for a regrind, the head for a skim and rebuilding the whole lot. It started first time. Blow me over with a feather.

A socket set, a torque wrench, a set of allen-keys, various other tools and not least, a Haynes Manual was essential to complete the task. I still have all my old Haynes Manuals. I know I should throw them out, or sell them on eBay, but I just can't bring myself to leave go. Even the smell of swarfega gets me reminiscing about happy days.

Home-brewed beer has always been something well within the reach of those who want to have a go. It's simply not cost effective when you consider how easy it is to get hold of great beer these days, but for most people who do, it's not about the money. It's about gaining a skill, about being good at a hand-craft. The move of car makers to make cars so difficult to maintain always smacks of forcing car owners to use the dealers for servicing and repair. Beer, at least in this respect, is different. I like that, many real home-brew enthusiasts make some of the best beer evangelists there are.

Haynes manuals must be less popular than they were 20 years ago, probably as a direct result of the futility of trying to do anything other than an oil change or a fan belt replacement yourself. It makes me a little sad, really, even though these days I do not have the time to spend hours under the bonnet of our vehicles.2 It's nice to see Haynes do rather quirky manuals about all sorts of things these days.

That Dolomite eventually died completely, in the end. It seems the 1500 should have had 5 main bearings but Triumph only gave it three. Doing 85mph on the motorway for any more than 3 miles caused the oil to stop flowing to the middle bearing due to centrifugal force and so the bearing went. Again.

Anyway, you've probably guessed by now that I'm a fan of Haynes manuals, which is good, because they are just about to launch one on beer. I don't know what it's like, and if I get a copy I might even review it, but I think it's a cool idea. Apparently it tells you all about how beer is made in big breweries, and some stuff about how you can make your own.

It appears to be written by the British Guild of Beer Writers Chairman, Tim Hampson, as far as I can see from the Amazon website, although the Haynes PR peeps seem to omit him from their press release, shame.

The Beer Manual applies the unique Haynes Manual practical treatment to the world of beer and introduces the reader to the wonderful range of beers and the drink’s rich social past, which is entwined throughout our history and culture.
With the aid of numerous photographs, practical sections describe the brewing process in a large commercial brewery, and offer step-by-step guidance for those who wish to brew their very own beer at home, whether from an off-the-shelf homebrew kit or by devising their own recipes and sourcing suitable raw materials to produce unique beers. 
Case studies chart the journeys of brewers who have turned the rewarding hobby of home brewing into viable businesses. A huge variety of aromas, tastes, colours and strengths can be created by brewers, whether professionals working for large international brewers or amateur enthusiasts in their kitchens at home. 
This book challenges the notion that only wine can be matched with fine food, and looks at why beer should be an essential ingredient in any creative cook’s kitchen. This is the essential guide for new and experienced home brewers, and for readers wishing to learn a little more about beer’s journey from barley and hop fields to the glass.

Pictures curtesy of Haynes Manuals

1Twin carb!! I remember how excited I was as a twenty odd-year-old at getting to own a twin carburettor car. Injection was still a long way off my reach in those days.

As for the Dolomite, nick-named the "Dollop of shite" by a friend of mine, in the end I came round to his way of thinking.

2Actually, I lied. The right hand indicator went on the van the other day, again. The garage replaced the indicator stalk last time, but it clearly wasn't really the fault. Ford, the silly people, put the relay box in a place where the contacts would collect salty road water and corrode specialist crimp contacts. I fixed it myself, and even had to use a meter and a soldering iron. I also bought a Transit Van Workshop manual, published by Haynes. It's got circuit diagrams in it. It's almost accurate, well, more accurate than the official Ford owners manual fuse numbering anyway.

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