I love books. I love collecting them. I love the door they open up to a new world of information. I love that in every field there are classics that are untouchable. I love that the internet still doesn’t have a thing on the well-written, well designed, perfectly distilled content of a book. Here’s a list of my favourite books to get you started in homebrewing:
Best book for getting inspired after your first brew:
Radical Brewing: Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass + others – Randy Mosher
Radical Brewing is the beer geek’s (and geek soon to be) wet dream. It’s also my favourite beer book. Not only does it give you a none-to-brief overview of the brewing process but it’s full of beer history and more importantly beer ideas. Historical recipes, long lost styles, fruit, herb and spice additions, freakish beer hybrids awash the pages of this book. If you don’t go away feeling inspired to brew something new and interesting then perhaps brewing isn’t for you.
Best technical brewing guide:
How to Brew – John Palmer
Before there was Dave Line’s Big Book of Brewing, and Charlie Papazian’s Joy of Homebrewing but unfortunately those contenders have been usurped by Palmer’s now classic guide which is without a doubt (at least in my mind!) the best overall technical guide for homebrew level brewing
Palmer’s website Howtobrew.com has a lot of content from the book freely available but it’s well worth buying the book as the layout and design overall is better than the website.
You won’t go wrong with this one. The only thing I’ll say is that getting started in homebrewing, it’s very easy to get intimidated and bogged down in the minutiae of all the technical details. I’d almost say that this book is better to pick up and thoroughly examine once you’ve got a few brews under your belt – that way, all the information has a practical framework to “hang itself” on.
Best ingredients books:
The Brewing Elements series is pretty well known in the brewing books world. Over the last four years, a different volume has been released every year. I’ve highlighted the two which I think are essential from the series. These are readable but technical books which will absolutely help you get the most out of your ingredients. Let’s face it, there are only four to worry about – and mastery of these is the key to making great beer. I’ve not bothered with the Water Book (also by Palmer) due to it being perhaps a little too technical and chemistry orientated, and I’ve heard that Malt is the weakest of the series but can’t vouch for that opinion first hand. Opinions welcome!
Best recipe design book:
Designing Great Beers – Ray Daniels
Author Ray Daniels has started the beer serving Cicerone beer sommelier program so he ought to know a thing or two about beer and brewing.
In his book, as well as an overview of the brewing process, the rest of the book is organised by style and chapter. In each chapter, Daniels gives a historical overview and then analyses a bunch of different recipes to give you general guidelines for the beer so you have an idea how to compose a recipe. Very good for those technically-minded folks who need strict parameters to work from.
Best Belgian Brewing Books:
Brewer’s Publications Belgian series – Brew Like a Monk/Wild Brews/Farmhouse Ales – Tim Webb/Stan Hieronymus/Phil Marowski
If you’re into funk, tartness or just want to try something different then have a look at these three classics. Monk is for trappist monastery style ales, Wild for lambics/gueze and the like and Farmhouse is for saisons and biere de garde and some other styles. They’re all trailblazers of sorts due to there being little English language literature about them until their publication.
That’s it for the moment, I may update the guide as and when I see any other books that are worthy of addition – and if anybody has any suggestions please add in the comments below.