I first began receiving Zymurgy approximately one year ago when my girlfriend signed me up as a member of the American Homebrewers Association. While the organization offers many perks and does a lot to further both homebrew and craft brew the only one I directly took advantage of was the subscription to their magazine Zymurgy.
Zymurgy is a magazine dedicated solely to homebrewing (rather than those to craft brewing which touch on the topic of brewing your own it is in fact the opposite). That being said it seems to be poorly made. The magazine has many flaws that make me not feel like it is worth the subscription to the organization.
First off the quality as a magazine. The layout of the magazine puts small and ugly advertisements all over the place, sometimes in the middle of articles, making the magazine hard to read and the ads less appealing (some craft brew and homebrew ads look awesome and actually improve other magazines).
Additionally the material and physical quality of the magazine is just not up to snuff. It feels cheap and falls apart quickly. For example the newest addition has only been read by me once but the entire middle section has separated into individual pages, pretty pathetic really.
In terms of content Zymurgy is a real mixed bag. While some articles are very creative and exciting (anything by Randy Mosher usually is in my opinion) there are many that fail by any standard. The newest edition stood out particularly in the case of ups and downs. While it was interesting reading an attempt to clone Orval it wasn't a particularly helpful article and the recipe posted was actually incorrect according to the article. The USSR influenced ales article was intriguing and full of interesting articles but the homebrewing in South America article offers very little for most readers. What stood out to me more than anything in the issue was the AWFUL article entitled "What Makes It a Stout." While the article talked a bit about different types of stouts and the history of stout and porter it blatantly disregarded the clear separations both explicitly and implicitly implied by the two separate names. It's definition comes down to that it has roasted malt and is called a stout. This is a gross misinterpretation of what a stout is and what separates it from a porter (e.g. the unmalted barley, the heavy amount of roasted barley over black patent or chocolate malts, and the characteristic heavier body and creaminess, to name a few).
While it might not be a bad read occasionally, Zymurgy is the least exciting, interesting, or even helpful magazine for a brewer or beer fan. While I may renew my membership in the future, at this time I'm fine with letting this subscription run out.