Having read many brewing books, I found Stan's approach to the cultural impact of hops - through testimonies of brewers, researchers and hop growers - refreshing. It was particularly delightful for me to read on how revered hops are to the ones most directly affected by it’s success in the brewing industry;How pledges are made with particular hop strains and how – often serendipitously - Hop ‘trends’ are created or demolished.
Now, while the book achieves it's goal satisfactory it's not without flaws:
1) For one, the book shifts too abruptly between highly superficial / introductory topics to ultra complex scientific explanations. This makes the read feel laconic and erratic.
2) The lack of content on history. It would be nice to have more information on how hops shaped society and brewing throughout the ages. Even if just a general outline of the topic.
3) The lack of information on the agronomics of hops: There are some pages dedicated to rhizomes, diseases and training systems but the information seems disjointed and lacking. (why so little informations on planting and maintenance? )
4) The ubiquitous "filler" chapters. Was is really necessary to put in a recipe chapter? Seems unwarranted and just feels tedious. At least have the recipes sprinkled across the book appropriately contextualized and tied to the topic at hand.
Now having said all that, this is still the book to get when it comes to hops - for the moment being at least - and despite it’s shortcomings it was a pleasant – at times warming – read. Just be sure to get Hop Growers, if you want the full picture on hops.
eBook For the Love of Hops