The Best Home Brewing Books – Four of my Favorites

by Brad Smith on April 19, 2019 · 2 comments

This week I’ll give you my picks for top home brewing books. As you might expect I have a pretty extensive library of brewing books, and I also know many of the top authors well.

I’ve included Amazon associate links for each book which you can use if you want to support this site. Many of these books are also available in your local brew shop or book store.

1. How to Brew – Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

This substantial book by my friend John Palmer is considered by many to be “the book” for home brewing. Updated in 2017 to its 4th edition, and weighing in at 582 pages this in-depth book covers almost every possible brewing topic. It is a more technical read than some other brewing books, and can be a bit overwhelming at first read if you don’t have a technical background.

Nevertheless John does walk you through everything from basic brewing to more advanced topics like brewing at altitude or managing your mash pH. There is a reason you will find this book in just about every serious home brewer’s library.

2. Mastering Homebrew – The Complete Guide to Brewing Delicious Beer

Though not as popular or well known as Palmer’s How to Brew, this book by graphic artist and brewer Randy Mosher is lavishly illustrated and very approachable even for a first time brewer. It is not quite as technical as Palmer’s book, but it does an amazing job of covering the vast majority of brewing techniques, terminology and equipment used by home brewers. I also like how Randy approaches beer from a flavor perspective rather than simply looking at it as a technical endeavor.

Even as an experienced brewer, I found Randy’s insights into topics like “harsh zone malts” and flavors of various ingredients to be both unique and valuable and they gave me further insight that has helped me improve my own recipes.

3. Designing Great Beers – The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles

An older book by Ray Daniels who now runs the Cicerone program. This book walks you through a number of classic beer styles and attempts to analyze the ingredients used in award winning recipes for each style. I found this book very useful early in my brewing career as it gave me a reasonable place to start when building my own recipes for many of my favorite styles.

While I don’t often directly use the book these days, the methodology of dissecting and comparing the ingredients used in top beer recipes for a particular style is something I do extensively to this day. In fact I usually start the development of a new beer recipe by first looking up related recipes.

The book can be criticized because it has not been updated to reflect newer beer styles, or new brewing techniques and it only contains a limited number of styles. However I feel the content is solid and the technique can be carried over to newer recipes and styles with ease once you understand the book’s approach to recipe design.

4. Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass

Randy Mosher has a second book in my top five list, again in no small part because of his artistic approach to beer. What I like most about Radical Brewing is that it gets you thinking in new and unique ways. Randy goes well beyond the traditional four brewing ingredients and conventional techniques to explore the sublime.

While Palmer’s How to Brew provides an in depth technical approach to brewing, Randy’s Radical Brewing dives deep into the artistic side. The book is packed with ideas and examples of brewing outside the box to create beer with unique flavor combinations. If you need inspiration or a way to expand your brewing horizons I do recommend Radical Brewing.

While those are my four personal favorites, I want to also mention the Brewer’s Association series on ingredients. This four book series consists of the books: Yeast, Water, Malt and Hops (Amazon links) and each one is written by an expert in the series. These four books are excellent if you want to do an in-depth dive into brewing ingredients.

Leave a comment blow if you have other books you have enjoyed. Thank you for joining me this week on the BeersSmith blog – please subscribe to the newsletter or listen to my video podcast for more great material on homebrewing.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Branchaud April 20, 2019 at 11:23 am

One book I would add to this list is Brewing Classic Styles by John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff. Although it might be a bit outdated compared to the changes in the most recent BJCP style guidelines, this gives a great launching point for recipe building. It is a book that is useful to a novice, but it something I still refer to as an experienced brewer when I’m building new recipes.

Justin April 20, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Any list without complete joy of home brewing is flawed.

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