But that's just the beginning. As I read through the first half, which is basically an introduction to brewing, I had a couple of criticisms. First, there were no charts and I really like charts. I like to know how the original gravity of a barley wine stacks up to a Scotch ale or how the hops and bitterness content of an English IPA compares to an American IPA. But this succinct discussion of homebrewing doesn't bother with such things.
Second, every recipe in the book is an extract recipe. There are no instructions for all grain brewing whatsoever. But this isn't a book about homebrewing - at least making a technically advanced brewer of its readers isn't this book's goal. It is a book about brewing extreme beer at home and Calagione is content to leave the minutia of mash and sparge to others.
Most of the last half of Extreme Beer is devoted to extreme recipes. With beers like Ginger Saison, Kiwit (kiwi-wit), Peppercorn Rye-Bock and Crandaddy Braggot there's enough here to keep a homebrewer excited for some time. Calagione also gathered recipes from some of today's most innovative brewers including Adam Avery of Avery Brewing, Rob Tod of Allagash, Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing and others. As well as their contributions, there are homebrew versions of some of Dogfish's best known beers including Raison D'Etre, Indian Brown Ale, and Midas Touch.
I wouldn't recommend Extreme Beer as your only homebrew book. There are other books that can help you mature as a more technically proficient brewer. But brewing is half science and half art and those books typically focus on the first half of the equation. Extreme Beer takes care of the art. There's no hand wringing of Reinheitsgebot here. Want to try a handful of raisins in your beer? Throw 'em in and see what happens!