Five Books Homebrewers Should Read

Thanks to Old Man Winter and Mother Nature (both of whom SUCK), I hurt my back shoveling snow and was resting a lot over the weekend and week.  Since I couldn’t work on the electric kettle (and I had the incorrect solid-state relays), everything was held off for a week.

So I started reading another beer book and thought that I’d post something about them.  This list is NOT EXCLUSIVE!  There is a lot of great brewing literature out there – I’m just going to talk about the four I’ve liked the most so far.  These are in no order, either.

1. How To Brew by John Palmer

I’ve read this probably three times, twice on his website and a third reading the Third Edition on Kindle.  The thing I like about this book is that it is very step-by-step and practical, and when he goes into discussion about what is happening behind the scenes (particularly in the all-grain chapters), the author clearly indicates that he is going to explain things for a while and what chapter to go to if you just want to brew.  In fact, the author does that in another place – the beginning.  The book starts out with brewing your first extract brew (which I believe is a good place to start, even if you brew one extract brew like me).

2. The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian

After reading How To Brew, this is a little bit of a review, but I think this book clearly shows that brewing beer is not an uptight process.  The book drives home the point of “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew”.  It is somewhat of a review after reading How To Brew, but still a good read nonetheless.  The book also talks about the historical context of beer and brewing.

3. The Brewer’s Apprentice by Greg Koch and Matt Allyn

First off, brewing books written by some of the most respected craft brewers should ALWAYS be read.  Greg Koch is the CEO of Stone Brewing, brewers of such high-quality brews as Arrogant Bastard Ale, several excellent IPAs (Levitation*, Self-Righteous, Ruination 1.0 [and probably 2.0, too], and many others), as well as one of my favorite milk stouts.  And while I’ve skipped out on the recent Green Tea and Golden Stout collaborations, the Xocoveza Mocha Stout collaboration was excellent.  Anyway, the book is more of a thinking book than a howto book (unlike the two above).  There is a lot of discussion about specific ingredients (like hops) and specific processes (like mashing).  This is a book to read with a beer in your hand when your carboys are full and you want to think about brewing the next beer.

4. Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher

This book is not about brewing, it’s about tasting.  Tasting is an important part of brewing beer, especially if you want to brew better beers (and who doesn’t?).  Taste is a critical part of evaluating beer, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.  It’s also an important part of recipe formulation.  This book really hits its stride around chapter 4 when the discussion moves into the sensory evaluation of beer (judging), beer presentation (glassware, pouring, etc), and beer and food pairing.

5. Mastering Homebrew by Randy Mosher

This is a book that should be purchased as a printed book as opposed to an eBook version.  While it is a little more expensive that way, the book is full of pictures and tables that explain a lot of the more complex brewing processes in a simpler, almost infographic-with-text-explanation style.

See this page?  It looks awesome printed. It'd be nearly impossible to read on a Kindle!

See this page? It looks awesome printed. It’d be nearly impossible to read on a Kindle!

I think I like reading this one at this point (6 or 7 brews, 4 or 5 all-grain brews) because of the intense discussion of grains and hops (so far), and I’m probably about 40% of the way through the book.