If you’re like me, you spend a large portion of the time that you don’t spend brewing thinking about brewing. You are also probably always reading and posting in homebrewing forums (like ours!), watching homebrewing Youtube videos, and soaking up any other information you can about beer and brewing. As much as I love all of the digital content out there, and try to continue to contribute to it as best I can, there is nothing quite like sitting down with a good book. Here is a list of some of the best homebrewing books to add to your collection!
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This list is by no means comprehensive, as there are literally hundreds of books available on beer and brewing. Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments or contact us and we will add it to this list!
Beginner Homebrewing Books
If you’re just getting started brewing or are looking for comprehensive overviews of the entire brewing process, these are the best books to get started with. While they all have different focuses, each covers the overall process of brewing with tips and tricks that are certain to help even seasoned brewers improve their beer. A few of these, like Palmer’s How to Brew and The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, by Charlie Papazian can be found on just about every seasoned homebrewer’s bookshelf.
How to Brew is widely considered to be the definitive guide to brewing beer. If there is one book that you should have on hand as a homebrewer, it is this one. This book is simple enough for beginners and provides step-by-step instructions that you can use on your first brew day. Still, even highly experienced homebrewers will find tips and tricks that will help them continue to improve. From sanitation to temperature control to water chemistry, this is an excellent overview of literally everything you need to know to brew great beer. If you can only pick one book to have on your shelf, it’s this one.
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing is the original comprehensive guide to homebrewing written by the original master of homebrewing himself, Charlie Papazian. This book is an excellent overview of everything homebrewing, from building your home brewery through recipe design. This book has been updated a few times over the years, and even though it may be a little dated, it’s a solid reference as well as an important piece of homebrewing history that is certainly worth picking up. It also contains the single best piece of advice you will ever hear: “Relax. Don’t Worry. Have a Homebrew”!
Beer Brewing 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Homebrewing for Craft Beer Lovers, by Mike Warren and John Krochune
Beer Brewing 101 is a great introductory book for new homebrewers planning their first brew day using an extract kit. It provides a simple approach to the basics that makes your first brew day as foolproof as possible. It features a supplies list, brewing term glossary, ingredient descriptions, and (perhaps most importantly for new brewers) a set of common problems new brewers encounter and how to recover from them. While seasoned brewers will likely not find a ton of ground shattering information in this book, it is certainly a great book for a craft beer lover who is looking to start homebrewing.
Written by Drew Beechum, who often writes for BeerAdvocate and Zymurgy, The Everything Homebrewing Book offers a simple, easy to follow approach for beginner brewers needing a step-by-step approach. This book covers the entire process, from choosing ingredients, cleaning and sanitizing, and recipe adjustment/development all the way through entering homebrew competitions. This book also contains 100 beer recipes, some of which are fairly fun and offbeat.
While not technically just a homebrewing book, this is an excellent read for any beginner homebrewer that wants to learn more about appreciating the nuanced differences between beer styles. To brew great beer, homebrewers need a thorough understanding of styles, flavor profiles, and sensory evaluation, and this book is an excellent resource for expanding your understanding of the aromas, colors, tastes, and mouthfeel of beer. If you are planning on getting into homebrewing competitions, a thorough understanding of how to taste beer is important in being ready to compete.
Advanced Homebrewing Books
Once you have gotten the brewing process down and are consistently making solid beer, you may find that the information in the beginner homebrewer books is no longer helping you advance. If you’re in that position, and are ready to take your homebrewing to the next level, these are excellent books to help you up your homebrewing game.
Brewing Better Beer provides a solid overview of the technical, practical and creative aspects of homebrewing. It was written by Gordon Strong, the only three-time winner of the National Homebrew Competition Ninkasi Award. He is the president and highest ranking judge in the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), and principal author of the BJCP Style Guidelines. Seasoned brewers like this book more than new brewers, and the no-nonsense approach to brewing advice will be highly relevant to taking your beer to the next level. One word of warning, there is no advice for extract brewing in this book, so only pick this one up when you’re ready to brew all grain.
Radical Brewing is one of the most fun homebrewing books on the market. Unlike most homebrewing books, which focus on process and science, Radical Brewing explores more of the creative and adventurous sides of homebrewing. This book is witty, fun, and humorous, but still includes tips and tricks that even advanced homebrewers will greatly benefit from. This book is all about having fun with different, often surprising ingredients. If you ever start getting bored with the beers you brew, give this book a read, and you’ll surely have some inspiration.
Experimental Brewing is the perfect answer for a seasoned homebrewer who is starting to get bored. This book lives up to its name, and provides an awesome look into a mad science approach to brewing better beer by trying new processes, ingredients, and scientific methods to brewing. This book is certainly not for a beginner, but it is a blast, and it’s almost impossible to resist trying some of the experiments that the authors outline. If you’re ready to start trying some cool, VERY different ways to improve your beer, this is definitely the book to pick up.
If you’re an advanced brewer and a bit of a chemistry nerd, this is a great technical explanation of how biology and chemistry influence great beer brewing. This book is heavily academic and not as focused on practical applicability as other brewing books in this list, so if you are interested in learning the science behind your beer does what it does, we recommend picking up a copy of Principles of Brewing Science. If you’re not interested in chemistry and want to focus on the art of brewing rather than the science, this might not be the book for you.
Mastering Homebrew is one of the best all-around homebrewing books available. It provides the beginner-level step-by-step information that many of the beginner brewing books have, but then goes a level deeper for each section and explains why that step needs to be taken. Instead of just giving you a process to blindly follow, this book endeavors to impart a true understanding of the process and the skills needed to brew exceptional beer on your own. This book also provides some of the best graphics and illustrations of any brewing book, as well as an overview of the various beer styles and what makes each unique. If you were to only read one homebrewing book, this might be the one.
Homebrewing Recipe and Recipe Formulation Books
If you’re looking for some award-winning recipes aligned to specific Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) style guides, there are a few great books that will help you both understand the styles better and design competition-worthy beer recipes. These are great resources for more advanced brewers who are ready to begin competing.
Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles is widely believed to be the single best resource for recipe formulation. This book contains formulas, tables, and the scientific understanding of the ingredients needed to design great beers. This is not a book for beginners, but it is one that will absolutely help you take the quality of your brewing to the next level. Like some of the books we discuss next, this book also provides solid information on beer styles to help you formulate a recipe that is enjoyable but also true to the style, making it an excellent resource for brewers who are interested in competing in BJCP homebrew competitions.
Brewing Classic Styles contains, in my opinion, a very cool approach to a book of brewing recipes. The authors, Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer, first provide an overview of beer ingredients, how to select them, and some overall brewing advice. After the introduction, the book walks through all of the standard homebrew competition categories and subcategories of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) and provides a recipe for each of the 80 subcategories (this book was written in 2007). If you’re interested in getting into competitions, this is a great way to start to learn to brew to a style rather than just to taste.
After you had your fill of Brewing Classic Styles, Modern Homebrew Recipes is a great book to start exploring the changing BJCP style guides. This book provides an overview of brewing techniques and recipe formulation approaches before providing over 100 distinct recipes across the BJCP style categories and subcategories. This book is written by Gordon Strong, the same author as Brewing Better Beer, and it is an excellent reference for those looking to brew to specific styles and/or enter homebrewing competitions.
Brewing Elements Series
As you become a more advanced brewer, it will become increasingly important to have a thorough understanding of each beer ingredient you use so that you can make small tweaks to your process that have large impacts on overall quality. There are tons of books about each beer ingredient, but a great place to start is the Brewing Elements Series published by the Brewers Association.
This book provides a comprehensive overview of malt (primarily barley malt) from growing the grain through the malting process. As part of the Brewing Elements Series, this book provides information on the history of malt, the science behind the enzymatic conversion that occurs in the malting process, and tips for malt selection, handling, and storage. We recommend that every brewer who is looking for a greater understanding of the beer they brew read the entire Brewing Elements Series.
For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness, and the Culture of Hops, by Stan Hieronymus
Probably the most fun book in the Brewing Elements Series (I mean, who doesn’t love hops!?!), this book provides a history of hops, stories from large breweries in their hop use practices, the geographical differences in hops, and why they change depending on how you use them. Fair warning, this book is not designed specifically to help you build recipes, but it is a great overview of our favorite beer ingredient, and includes a comparison chart of over 100 varieties of hops. When I started growing my own hops, this was my favorite book to read in the garden! We recommend that every brewer who is looking for a greater understanding of the beer they brew read the entire Brewing Elements Series.
Often the least considered element in beer brewing, and especially in homebrewing, water is absolutely critical to brewing a great beer. Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers provides readers with an accessible overview of water chemistry, including sources, treatment for brewing, and adjustment for beer styles. This book is a must-have for someone looking for a way to immediately improve their homebrew, because most homebrewers initially don’t do any water treatment or adjustment. We recommend that every brewer who is looking for a greater understanding of the beer they brew read the entire Brewing Elements Series.
For many homebrewers, yeast can become an afterthought; just a packet of stuff they sprinkle onto the wort after the brew day is over. Yeast, however, is an incredibly important ingredient that affects everything about your beer. Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation covers everything from yeast selection, handling, and storage through building and rinsing/washing yeast cultures. This book even outlines how to set up a yeast lab and the science behind the fermentation process. We recommend that every brewer who is looking for a greater understanding of the beer they brew read the entire Brewing Elements Series.
Style-Specific Homebrewing Books
If you’re a fan of a specific style, or are looking for resources on how to perfect a certain style that you have been trying to brew, these books are great deep-dives into those specific styles and their ingredients, processes, and style guidelines. There are dozens, or hundreds, of style-specific homebrewing books available, so we are just including a few of the more popular or newer ones. Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments and we will add it to this list!
I am probably biased because I never met an IPA I didn’t like, but this is one of my favorite books on this list, and probably the only one I have read cover to cover more than once. It provides a great history of the evolution of the IPA, discussions on brewing approaches, hopping techniques, and even water chemistry. It also includes some recipes of historical and craft IPAs, though they don’t include specific amounts for each ingredient. Fair warning, the book is getting a bit dated with the recent explosion of new IPA styles, so this is a great book to combine with some of the newer IPA books on this list.
Once you have read Mitch Steele’s IPA book, you’ll likely find that you want to learn more about some of the newer developments in IPA brewing, like New England IPAs (NEIPAs) and other hazy/juicy IPAs. The New IPA distills a ton of information about hop research, commercial brewery processes, experiments, and lab testing down into an easy to read book that is great for anyone who loves brewing hazy IPAs. This is not a recipe book, and it’s not really one for beginners, but it will certainly be a great book for any Haze Head!
If you’re a fan of monastic styles of beer, Brew Like a Monk should be high on your list to read. This is an easy read that explores the history of the Belgian style throughout the years, and while not a “manual” for brewing Belgian ales, it also includes style guidelines, brewing strategies, grain bills, fermentation approaches, and other practical advice. This book is a must-have for any Trappist beer enthusiast!
Centuries ago, the Gose-style of beer was popular throughout Germany, and then largely disappeared until it recently found new life in craft brewing. If you’re a fan of the slightly sour wheat beer that is the Gose, you’ll enjoy learning about the unique aspects of brewing this style, including salinity, spices, and lactic acid. This book is a solid resource for brewing the Gose style, including tips and tricks for your brew day.
Books About Opening a Brewery
Dreaming about opening your own brewery? Here are some of the best books available on the process of opening a brewery, brewery operations, and stories of how now-familiar breweries got their start. Remember, opening a brewery is often more about small business skills than it is just about brewing. Make sure you don’t ignore skills in business management, financing/accounting, customer service, marketing, and other business skills that you will certainly need to succeed in opening a brewery.
One of the best ways to learn about the process for opening a small brewery is to talk to people who have done it! In my experience, most small brewery owners are happy to talk to you about how they got started, and they can be a wealth of advice. If you want to read a little bit about how a few owners got started, check out our interviews with homebrewers who started their own breweries!
Beyond the Pale describes the story of how Ken Grossman went from homebrewing five-gallon batches of beer to opening arguably the most successful craft brewery in the United States, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, in 1980, which now produces more than 800,000 barrels of beer per year. This book is a must-read for any homebrewer seeking inspiration about opening a brewery, and focuses on how Sierra Nevada became one of the United States’ most loved breweries. If you are looking for a book about the trials and tribulations of starting a brewery, this is the first one we’d recommend you read.
So you Want to Start a Brewery? is the first-person story of how Tony Magee started the Lagunitas Brewing Company. It’s a humorous book that certainly doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties Tony faces throughout his journey. This book effectively mixes an entertaining story with both brewing and business tips that will surely be useful as you consider opening a brewery. This is a great story that we recommend for any craft beer lover.
Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Beer from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, by Sam Calagione
Unsurprisingly, one of the most fun and engaging stories of opening a craft brewery comes from Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. Like many successful commercial brewers, Sam started with a homebrewing kit and found a passion for brewing that he was able to turn into a business. This book is a bit more philosophical than others, but still includes a lot of valuable information on how to start and sustain a small business, how to find and stick to your brand identity, and how to engage with your community.
Operation Brewery: Black Hops – The Least Covert Operation in Brewing: A Step-By-Step Guide to Building a Brewery on a Budget, by Dan Norris, Eddie Oldfield, and Michael McGovern
Operation Brewery is the story of how three friends opened Black Hops Brewing on the Gold Coast of Australia. This is a great book for anyone planning on opening a brewery on a budget and explains that brewing great beer is not enough to be a successful commercial brewery. Other important topics, like branding, marketing, funding sources, positioning, and other business aspects of opening a brewery are discussed. While this book obviously focuses on the process for opening a brewery in Australia, the advice contained in it is invaluable to anyone looking to open a brewery anywhere.
If you are planning on opening your own brewery, this book contains the Brewers Association’s official advice on how to succeed in the industry by focusing on producing the highest possible quality beer. This book covers everything from ingredients to financing and business plans, and even sustaining practices and operations, however don’t expect it to completely teach you everything you need to know. Remember, owning a brewery is MOSTLY owning a small business and a LITTLE bit of brewing, so you will need to focus more on the legal and business operations aspects of the brewery. That said, this is a well-written and entertaining book that is worth reading. It’s not overly technical, and if you’re opening a brewery, you can’t over-prepare.
The Brewery Operations Manual is a tactical-level “to do” list of the steps you will need to take to move from homebrewing into opening a brewery. It covers everything from sourcing and assembling equipment, to running the business itself. There is no philosophy or filler here, it is just a ton of no-nonsense advice on how to start a successful brewery for the lowest possible cost. It’s definitely recommended for anyone who is looking to get started on a budget.
Did we miss one of your favorite books? Have feedback to share about one of the ones we listed? Leave a comment below or post in the forums!
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