Book review

A less than perfect book

The Perfect Keg
Ian Coutts
Greystone Books

This is a book that features a great idea but one that is not that well executed.perfect keg

The idea is this – Coutts decides to brew a beer made of ingredients he’s grown himself. Yep, he aims to grow the barley for the malt, plant some hops and even muster up some yeast from his wife’s breadmaking exploits.

Making a beer quite literally from scratch does have a lot of potential – though admittedly it’s going to interest geeks more than the gen pub. But it’s a potential that’s never reached because Coutts doesn’t really have an ability to write in an entertaining style. Or maybe it’s more because, to be frank, not much that is interesting really happens.

So Coutts ends up trying to make a big deal out of what really are minor hiccups, like trying to find barley seeds, or dealing with some piece of farm machinery that doesn’t work properly. Or dealing with hassle of selling your city home while also having to travel to the country farm to check out how the barley and hops are doing. Or trying to paint a picture of a city slicker who is totally clueless about farm life.

That last effort is rather undermined by the fact that the farm he is using to grow some of his ingredients is part-owned by his wife Catharine.

What would have made this book far more interesting is if, well, something interesting happened. Maybe he could have tried to grow the ingredients in his backyard. Maybe he tried to do everything else in his own house. Or, I don’t know, just anything to stop it from being dull.

For anyone who has homebrewed – extract or all-grain – you likely are well aware that reading a book about the process is actually going to be a bit on the dull side. That’s what a lot of The Perfect Keg ends up as being – it’s essentially a 200-page description of someone making a batch of homebrew.

Shame, it could have been good.

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