am 29. Oktober 1999
I find this book fascinating! Months after buying it, I find myself sitting down to look for a recipe to try, and spending hours reading the historical and herbal notes. Never would have expected the best herbal I own to be a beer book! There is also information on the religious practices of early Celts and Norwegians as they relate to the use of herbs, as well as lots of information on the spiritual use of herbs by modern traditional peoples.
As for the beers themselves, Buhner takes a relaxed attitude. Indigenous people make beer without fancy equipment, and we can too. What matters most is what tastes good to us--which means we have to do a lot of experimenting! There are lots of recipes to try here, from the Middle Ages up to the present. But the choice is not as wide as it first looks, because not all of the ingredients are easily available. If you get into this, the next book you'll want may be "The Brewer's Garden."
am 15. April 2000
I didn't expect to find in this book both the wonderful herbal and the beautiful exploration of brewing that I found. The book's deep research reveals the intricate relationship that plants have had with brewing throughout history and shows how hops were added to beer only recently in the history of brewing. The plant information is backed up with lengthy sections about historical usage and scientific review of their efficacy. Though some of the more straitlaced readers of this book have cried wolf: plants with potentially toxic effects that were often used in historical fermentations are clearly labeled and all contraindications for each herb are listed. It is not surprising that this book won four awards. It is simply the best overview of historical brewing, the use of fermented herbal infusions in healing, the sacred place of fermentation and plants in human society, and one of the best general herbals I have ever seen. In addition the author is an extremely gifted storyteller. I can't recommend it highly enough.
am 12. April 2000
While the author has obviously worked very hard and done a lot of research, the book he has produced is a lot like many other things in nature - beautiful but also deadly and carrying few warning labels. While I don't advocate kneejerk acceptance of FDA opinion, I do object to presentation of recipes for beers which include henbane and jimson weed and other potentially toxic or damaging herbs. By all means, buy this book if you are seriously into brewing, it contains a lot of good information and background. But at the same time, I also urge that it should not be one's only source of information. Be especially careful when working with unfamiliar herbs, and consult at least two other sources before using them. Herbal field guides are a good place to get accurate, scientific information about herbs.
The author's point of view is spiritual rather than scientific. It's ironic in the section about the "Corn Woman" that he makes a nod to science, but in general his view of the scientific method is antagonistic. It would have been nice to see a *balance* between the scientific and the spiritual instead.
In closing: nice effort; and yes, worth buying, especially if you are a serious brewer...but BE CAREFUL.