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For beer lovers, making your own beer is an advantageous hobby to cultivate for a number of reasons and having the best homebrewing books on hand is a must.
For starters, homebrewing will save you money on beer and allow you to create flavors with ingredients that commercially limited beers simply do not contain.
Homebrewing can also foster a pleasant atmosphere and lead to social interaction.
Also, there is certainly intrinsic value in homebrewing: you're making something you can call you own. It's a challenging and rewarding process.
Where and how to begin
If you're going to embark on your own homebrewing escapade, you need a point of reference, or several, to get you started off in the right direction.
This is where having access to the best homebrewing books comes in handy.
These will not only supply you with techniques and pointers that will form the building blocks of your brewing education, but they will also supply recipes with which to test your evolving skills.
How we picked the best homebrewing books
Many of the contenders on our list are written by homebrewers with decades of experience. Undoubtedly, this type of knowledge will expedite your own homebrewing learning curve.
Homebrewing books are not merely useful for the beginner, however. Intermediate and even advanced homebrewers will benefit from the information found in the best books.
Certain authors have taken a creative approach to homebrewing that will force the reader into viewing the craft from an entirely different angle.
Furthermore, some of the best books on homebrewing feature an in-depth history of the craft, in addition to key insights about specific beers, from popular BJCP-certified beers to lesser-known, experimental beers. Thus, homebrewing books are not reserved for first-timers.
So without further ado, here are our top picks. Click on any of the titles to go directly to our review.
- 1Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew
- 2Modern Homebrew Recipes: Exploring Styles and Contemporary Techniques
- 3Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles
- 4How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Beer Right the First Time
- 5Homebrew Beyond the Basics: All-Grain Brewing and Other Next Steps
- 6Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass
- 7Home Brew Recipe Bible: An Incredible Array of 101 Craft Beer Recipes, From Classic Styles to Experimental Wilds
Which book is right for you
When shopping for a homebrewing book, consider your goals and abilities.
If you are indeed just starting out, it's wise to purchase a book that takes into account the fundamentals and initial, basic steps of homebrewing. In this case, avoid supplemental or specialized homebrewing titles that would better serve a more advanced student.
On the other hand, if you're already working with a foundational knowledge of homebrewing, a book on the basics might be superfluous to your needs.
But have no fear, as there are plenty of homebrewing books that build on the basics by offering a unique twist on classic recipes, or even an exploration of rare recipes.
These books will cultivate your need to get creative, which is one of the fundamental benefits of homebrewing.
Figure out your needs as a homebrewer, cross-reference those needs with what each book is offering, and most importantly, get brewing!
Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew
The first tome on our list of best homebrew books is co-written by accomplished brewers, Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer.
Zainasheff has been a yearly mainstay in the finals of the National Homebrew Competition since 2002. Brewing in every style, Zainasheff has collected more than 20 Best-of-Show awards.
John Palmer is the author of the homebrewing bestseller, How To Brew. Palmer is also a recurring speaker at the National Homebrewing Conference.
Each author contributes a column to Brew Your Own magazine. Clearly, both Palmer and Zainasheff bring years of experience and a winning reputation to Brewing Classic Styles.
This book contains 81 brewing recipes from Jamil Zainasheff. Each recipe is categorized as “beginner,” “intermediate,” or “advanced” based on the effort required to brew.
Beginner recipes include porters, stouts, brown ales, and pale ales.
Intermediate recipes encompass ales with unusual ingredients. Lastly, advanced recipes refer to lager styles that require fermentation, and thus active temperature maintenance.
John Palmer has crafted the initial chapters of Brewing Classic Styles with lucid information regarding ingredients, process, and style. Together with the appendices, Palmer’s contributions to this book meld nicely with Zainasheff’s recipes.
Zainasheff’s firm handle on Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) styles is apparent, as this book covers these styles with aplomb. Particularly enlightening are Zainasheff’s “Keys to Brewing” attached to each recipe. Here, the reader can glean information only otherwise attainable through years and years of homebrewing.
Brewing Classic Styles is not a starter book for first-time homebrewers. Rather, it is a worthy supplement to a more basic, detailed, and essential homebrewing text (like How to Brew, for instance).
- 323 pages
- Addresses every recognized brewing style
- Recipes focus on extract with substitutions for all-grain brewers
- Tweak the recipes or recreate them as is
- Impressive range of recipes
Modern Homebrew Recipes: Exploring Styles and Contemporary Techniques
Next on our list of best homebrewing books is one containing more than 100 recipes from Grandmaster Beer Judge Gordon Strong.
In addition to the recipes themselves, Strong covers everything from brewing techniques to BJCP style updates. With regards to the latter, there is no one more qualified than Strong to write about BJCP styles. Strong is BJCP’s highest ranking judge and one of the primary authors of its guidelines.
Modern Homebrew Recipes is true to its title in that it provides a lot of new, modern twists on classic recipes. Strong’s personal observations and pointers are the most valuable part of the book.
This a perfect book for a homebrewer who is familiar with classic methods and is looking to improve and expand his or her abilities.
Strong is a frequent contributor to a variety of beer and brewing publications, such as Zymurgy magazine. This book is a fascinating sneak peak into the mind and methods of one of today’s foremost authorities on homebrewing.
- 350 pages
- Teaches how to brew many different styles
- Includes sensory and formulation notes for each style
- Tons of detail included in each recipe
- Clearly explains many non-traditional techniques
- Offers different approaches to the same brewing style
Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles
In essence, this book is a valuable technical manual on homebrewing from Ray Daniels. It is replete with tables, formulae, and other technical information that will undoubtedly help enhance your homebrewing capabilities.
The first section of Designing Great Beers focuses on ingredients and technique. Daniels does a brilliant job of complementing his quantitative data on homebrewing with striking and easy-to-understand visuals.
In the book’s second segment, Daniels delves into the historical origins of popular beer styles.
Using the National Homebrew Competition’s array of successful beers as a template, Daniels analyzes what the leading minds in beer brewing are up to, and his take on things can certainly help you understand what goes into crafting classic beer styles.
By consulting Daniels’ book, one arrives at an understanding of the preparation that goes into brewing some of the most popular beers of today. With this knowledge, one arrives at a platform upon which to innovate.
Daniels’ approach to explaining methods caters to the beginner homebrewer and the advanced homebrewer. This is one of the clear strengths of the book; brewers of all levels and abilities can learn something useful from it and cultivate their own, personal style.
How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time
How to Brew is one of two contributions from John J. Palmer on our list of best homebrew books. Simply put, this is a quintessential text for the beginner homebrewer.
Palmer offers an authentic and exhaustive crash course in homebrewing, filled with step-by-step instructions on everything from recipe development and hopping techniques to yeast ranching and bottling or kegging. A number of recipes for ales and lagers are included.
Palmer even goes into detail about how to build your own homebrewing equipment. Whereas other books on this list serve as worthy supplements to a starter guide, How to Brew is a perfect book to begin with.
- 404 pages
- Short, to-the-point chapters
- Contains technical explanations for designing your own beer
- Ideal for intermediate to advanced brewers
- First half contains scientific and mathematical look at brewing
- Second half offers stories and descriptions of specific beer styles
Homebrew Beyond the Basics: All-Grain Brewing and Other Next Steps
This book contains a lot of unique brewing recipes, in addition to a variety of innovative homebrewing techniques.
Its author, Mike Karnowski, is a BJCP-certified judge with an impressive 25 years of homebrewing and professional brewing experience.
This book is especially notable for its quality photos and focus on specific, next-level homebrewing topics such as whirlpool hopping and water chemistry. For this reason, this is another appropriate supplemental homebrewing book to a reader with some established brewing experience.
Of course, Karnowski also goes into vivid detail about all-grain brewing! His clear and concise explanations are perfect for the homebrewer making the transition from extract to all-grain methodology.
The book brilliantly balances on the line between description and easy reading. The pages of this book do not burden you with an excess of information, and yet the tips and pointers that are mentioned go a long way towards improving your abilities as an all-grain homebrewer.
Karnowski is the acting Head Brewer of specialty beers at Green Man Brewery (Asheville, NC).
- 192 pages
- Offers pragmatic approach to brewing backed up with science, examples and experiments
- Contains a wealth of practical advice
- Simplifies core concepts and best practices in brewing
- Delivers valuable insight from veteran homebrewer
- Ideal for all-grain brewers
Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass
Radical Brewing is a colorful, visually appealing book that focuses on creative and lesser-known perspectives on homebrewing. This book is appropriate for the homebrewer seeking to come at brewing from a new angle.
On our list of best homebrew books, this title is one of the more artistically inclined homebrewing books. Its author, Randy Mosher, views craft beers (via homebrewing) as a favored alternative to corporate-style, mass-market beer brands.
Whereas certain homebrewing books tend to focus on a scientific, step-by-step approach, Mosher presents an approach that is more steeped in artistic expression than anything else.
Rather than offer a pragmatic manual on homebrewing, Mosher has written a versatile, entertaining book that is infused with humor, history, and personal anecdote. Mosher’s own experience as a homebrewer dates back at least two decades.
Radical Brewing covers a lot of beers that aren’t included within the BJCP style. In this regard, this book is a bit of an outlier on this list. This is a naturally fun book that will delight newcomer and experienced homebrewers alike.
Mosher is not striving for the status quo homebrewing analysis here, and that is the gift of this book; it ventures outside the box and will help to cultivate your creativity as a homebrewer.
- 350 pages
- Perfect book to learn about interesting ingredients, archaic techniques, and little known beer styles
- Offers historical information about brewing
- Very easy to read, engaging style
- For intermediate to advanced brewers
- Witty and informational
Home Brew Recipe Bible: An Incredible Array of 101 Craft Beer Recipes, From Classic Styles to Experimental Wilds
Chris Colby of Beer & Wine Journal has created an all-encompassing homebrewing book that caters to the beginner, intermediate homebrewer, and advanced expert.
The 101 recipes in this book cover BJCP-style beers, as well as Great American Beer Festival (GABF) styles. Colby’s pointers will direct the homebrewer towards achieving classic styles, experimental styles, and everything in between.
For a reader looking for a wide variety of selections in their homebrewing experience, this book is a great resource.
Colby’s writing style is conversational and user-friendly. From a diverse list of recipes to a plethora of helpful tips for every level of homebrewer, this book offers something for practically any individual interested in homebrewing.
What is more, the recipes are cleanly organized and presented in relatable fashion.
- 272 pages
- Great recipes with very specific instructions
- Suitable for all levels of experience
- Addresses classic styles and more experimental beers
- Shows readers how to transform one beer style to another
Homebrewing can be a hobby, profession, or anything in between. It is a perfect way for beer lovers to save money on beer and create new and innovative flavors that you simply cannot buy anywhere else.
For the beginner, homebrewing can be a fun hobby that creates a pleasant social setting. For the more advanced homebrewer, the craft can lead to a higher form of artistic expression.
At any level of your homebrewing journey, you can benefit from knowledge found in the best homebrew books. This list is a perfect foundation for these types of books.
Consider what you want to get out of homebrewing, and then find out what kind of knowledge you are seeking from the experts in homebrewing! Keep things fun, and make great beer. Good luck!
Professional jockey Jose always liked to kick back after a training session with a high-strung thoroughbred, but he'd never indulged in beer until the raven-haired owner of his most challenging mount slid a beer to him from across the table. One sip of the ice-cold, frothy pale ale and Jose was lost. Now married to an heiress, Jose works as a sports journalist and collects cars.