I don’t know about you but when I’m not homebrewing, one of my favorite activities is to read about homebrewing. Here are a few of the best beer books I’ve read so far:
This is the all-time beer book classic that’s probably on every homebrewer’s shelf. In addition to giving you a really good overview of basic and intermediate homebrewing, Charlie does an amazing job of making the homebrew process feel…possible, which is impossible to overstate for beginners. We all owe a debt to Charlie for 2 things:
- Being one of the main drivers behind the homebrew and craft brew revolution
- His famous phrase: Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew 🙂
Dr. McGovern has one of the coolest job titles I’ve ever heard: Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s also one of the co-creators of some of Dogfish Head’s historic brews, such as Midas Touch.
Uncorking The Past is fascinating to me because of its global perspective – fermented beverages are truly a global phenomenon, encompassing every culture in the world with fermentable sugars (almost 100% of humanity) and even other species. If The Drunken Monkey Hypothesis sounds interesting to you, go get this book.
I view Radical Brewing as the logical sequel to The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. Once you have the basics down and can brew a straightforward batch of beer without panicking too much, Randy Mosher gives you the toolkit to take your beer to the next level. Beer is one of the true blends of art and science – Mosher shows how beer is truly a canvas on which to share your creativity with the world. He also gets into the practical side of building creative beers, such as how to properly add fruit to your secondary fermenter and how to add spices and herbs to your brew. Just as important is the fact that Randy is an amazing writer and his prose about beer reminds me of the way poets write about love.
While the story of The Brewer’s Tale is somewhat similar to Uncorking The Past, Bostwick tells the story in a more accessible manner, although with less of the nitty gritty detail. Bostwick also makes the connection between beer’s deep history to today’s craft beer movement to show the continuation of a long tradition of brewing. Worth a read!
Of all the beer books on this list, Buhner’s book is the most “out there” and I mean that in the best possible way. This book will take you out of your comfort zone and challenge many commonly held brewing assumptions. What’s fascinating about Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers is the ingredient substitution that ancient brewers used in lieu of the “standards” of barley, hops, yeast, and water. Literally anything that could be fermented, was fermented. Anything that could preserve beer or make it taste better was used in the brew. And most surprisingly, often there were no hops!
For the practical brewer, a major insight in this book is the idea of keeping your yeast happy (like any other living thing!) and how that principle can be used to make your beer better than ever.
While Proof is not 100% about beer, it’s still a fascinating look at the science behind the fermentation process. Most importantly, there is a great final chapter on the science of hangovers, including scientific explanations of the cause, hangover prevention, and last but certainly not least, hangover cures. That chapter alone makes this book a must-read.
Have you read any other great beer books? Let me know and I’ll include it in a follow up post!