5 Best Homebrewing Books

by Billy | Last Updated: April 19, 2020

Although I first learned how to brew from a friend, after a few batches I finally picked up a homebrewing book. From then on I devoured them.

It’s true, I’m a book worm. So here’s my pick for the 5 best homebrewing books.

The Complete Joy of Homebrewing – Charlie Papazian

The first homebrew book I ever read, The Joy of Homebrewing, is a brewing classic. Charlie coined the phrase, “Relax, Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew”, and repeats it numerous times in this book when the reader approaches a tricky subject matter.

His laid back, “it’s only beer” attitude is very reassuring.

Best Seller
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition
$19.49

You can certainly learn how to brew with this book, but Palmer's book is better for a beginner looking for a step by step approach. 

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02/28/2021 12:39 pm GMT

You can certainly learn how to brew with this book, but Palmer’s book is better for a beginner looking for a step by step approach. The techniques in the Joy of Homebrewing are a little out of date and the organization of the book is confusing. That said, people swear by the recipes and having made a couple myself, I can back that statement up.

Reading this book is a right of passage into the homebrewing world, and Charlie deserves a place on every brewer’s bookshelf.

  • Type: How to brew A – Z
  • Level: Beginner to Advanced
  • Recipes: Yes, extract and all-grain.

How to Brew – John Palmer

Palmer’s How to Brew is the best how to brew book out there. It clearly teaches the beginner how to get started with extract, moves them though to extract and specialty grains, then shows them how to upgrade to all-grain brewing. The book is written in a straightforward, no-nonsense style. Just the facts, and lots of ’em.

Most Popular
How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know
$17.91

How to Brew clearly teaches the beginner how to get started with extract, moves them though to extract and specialty grains, then shows them how to upgrade to all-grain brewing.

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Like Charlie’s book, this one should be on every brewer’s shelf. It is one of those reference books that you’ll go back to time and time again no matter how experienced you are.

  • Type: How to brew A – Z
  • Level: Beginner to Advanced
  • Recipes: Yes, all-grain and extract. (I goofed in the video where I said there aren’t recipes; there is a recipe chapter.)

Brewing Classic Styles – Jamil Zainasheff & John Palmer

Palmer is the how-to guy and Jamil is the recipe guy. Together they created a great brewing book in Brewing Classic Styles. This is not a book for the new homebrewer. It’s for a  brewer with a little experience who wants to advance his skills and learn how to brew different styles.

Homebrewers' Choice
Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes
$16.39

This is not a book for the new homebrewer. It's for a brewer with a little experience who wants to advance his skills and learn how to brew different styles.

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The idea is that it teaches you how to  brew every one of the 80 BJCP beer styles. This book is very direct and you’ll speed through each type of beer. It lays out the guidelines for a style, gives you the key factors for brewing it, then provides a recipe.

  • Type: Recipe Formulation/Skill Improvement
  • Level: Moderate
  • Recipes: Yes, extract and all-grain.

Designing Great Beers – Ray Daniels

Designing Great Beers is similar to Brewing Classic Styles in that it focuses on brewing according to style guidelines. Think of this book as a sequel to that one.  It goes much more into depth about the key components of beer styles: types of malt, hops, yeast, water chemistry, fermentation temperatures, IBU’s, SRM’s, etc, etc.

Advanced Brewing
Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide
$19.29

Designing Great Beers goes much more into depth about the key components of beer styles: types of malt, hops, yeast, water chemistry, fermentation temperatures, IBU's, SRM's, etc, etc.

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This is a more advanced book and like How to Brew, it is one of those reference books that you’ll always go back to and learn something. It is big and packed with information.

What I really like about this book is that it uses actual data from National Homebrew Competition (NHC) to show you how the winning beers are made.  Daniels provides tons of charts and graphs showing trends for real beers submitted to the NHC. For example, there is a table showing the most common hops used in the fruit beer category.  Very cool.

  • Type: Recipe Formulation/Skill Improvement
  • Level: Advanced
  • Recipes: No

Radical Brewing – Randy Mosher

Last but not least is Randy Mosher’s Radical Brewing Radical Brewing. Where Brewing Classic Styles and Designing Great beers were more dry and scientific, Mosher’s book nails the art of brewing. The first third of the book is an intro on brewing and in my opinion isn’t necessary since it is a more advanced book, and the reader is likely to already know that information.

Great Read
Radical Brewing
$14.39

Where Brewing Classic Styles and Designing Great beers were more dry and scientific, Mosher's book nails the art of brewing. 

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After that though, there are some real gems.

The book goes outside the box and teaches you things like:

  • 12 ways to improve a stout
  • How to barrel age beers
  • Weird malt and adjuncts
  • Brewing Belgian beers

This is also the most reader friendly of all the books. It includes color, images, and charts. There is a lot of information in here but it’s an easy read.  Top marks.

  • Type: Unconventional Brewing/Skill Improvement
  • Level: Advanced
  • Recipes: Yes, extract and all-grain.

Honorable Mention: Extreme Brewing – Sam Calagione

I won’t do a full review but Extreme Brewing comes in at a very close 6th. Sam is founder of Dogfish Head brewery and teaches the tricks of the trade for making their off-centered ales.

Best Seller
Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast's Guide
$24.99

Extreme Brewing is a recipe-driven resource for aspiring home brewers who are interested in recreating these specialty beers at home, but don't have the time to learn the in-depth science and lore behind home-brewing

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Want the recipe for their 60 Minute IPA? India Brown Ale?  Midas Touch? They’re all in here.

Raised in Virginia, lives in Southern California. He swears he's the only "malt head" in SoCal, the land of hops. Billy is a BJCP judge, award-winning homebrewer, and lover of all things fermented.