My homebrewing library is extensive: I spend a lot of time reading just about every single book on the subject I can get my hands on; some of books are awesome for beginners, some touch advanced topics, and some go so far down the rabbit hole that only serious enthusiasts (or professionals) will benefit. I’ve compiled this list of books that I believe belong in every homebrewer’s library, I hope that it provides folks curious about which books to read some direction on what to get next. Be sure to check back often, I’ll be updating the list frequently as I read new books and get my thoughts down on others.
Books for Beginners
The Gold Standards
How to Brew, John Palmer – I consider this to be the premier introduction to modern homebrewing techniques. Perfect for beginners, the author goes through step by step every single thing that a budding homebrewer needs to know to brew excellent beer; extract to all-grain. The absolute most cutting edge techniques are absent from this book and many topics that could (and are) books in their own right are touched on only briefly, but there are no glaring omissions or poor advice to be found. If I had to choose a single book to recommend, this is it.
You might have seen the first edition version up on the web, while it’s an excellent reference, please do yourself a favor and get the printed version, in its third edition. The website is a collection of Palmer’s techniques from the 90’s back during the USENET days and has some seriously outdated recommendations in it.
Brewing Classic Styles, Jamil Zainasheff & John Palmer – Okay, so know you know how to brew, but you’re struggling to figure out what to brew. Most cooks I know didn’t start out whipping up gourmet meals off the top of their heads, instead they use a cookbook of tried and true recipes until they understand the ingredients and techniques to produce the results they’re looking for. Brewing Classic Styles is like the Joy of Cooking for homebrewers: there is an award-winning recipe, description, and story for literally every single style in the 2008 BJCP guide. The recipes are geared toward extract brewers, but contain the alterations needed for all-grain brewing. I reference this book every single time I design a recipe just to make sure I’m in the right ball park.