The best books for understanding beer, brewing, and civilization

The Books I Picked & Why

Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink

By Randy Mosher

Book cover of Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink

Why this book?

To start your journey of discovery into beer, I am recommending one of my favorite books, Tasting Beer by my friend Randy Mosher. This book teaches you to appreciate the flavors and aromas of beer. He describes flavors and food pairing with great flourish. My history teacher once told me that things are only boring until you learn something about them, “knowledge makes things interesting.” Randy makes beer interesting by sharing its past and present, and some speculation on its future. He is a master storyteller and weaves anecdotes, song, and verse into a tapestry of beer knowledge – and tapestry is the right word, because Randy is a graphic artist and has a superb way of summarizing concepts in charts and tables. You will also come away with a thorough understanding of beer styles and what makes each unique. 


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The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food

By Garrett Oliver

Book cover of The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food

Why this book?

Garrett’s book takes a deeper dive into the world of brewing and beer pairing. He takes you with him as he explores some of the great brewing cities, the breweries, the brewers, and their beloved beers. He gives detailed descriptions of specific beers and the foods that they are typically paired with and why. Knowledge makes things interesting, but getting to know the people behind the beers is even more interesting. Be prepared to get thirsty and hungry as you virtually share these joys of the table and tap.


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Ambitious Brew : The Story of American Beer

By Maureen Ogle

Book cover of Ambitious Brew : The Story of American Beer

Why this book?

Now that you better understand what beer is and where (and who) it comes from, it is interesting to learn more about how beer shaped the growth of the United States of America. Ambitious Brew is the story of beer in America: from the early days of the German Beer Gardens in the mid-1800’s to the rise to dominance of American Adjunct Lager beer and brewing prowess by 1900, to the dark days of Prohibition, and afterward; Maureen unveils the people and events that shaped this country. This book has long been one of my favorites, it helped me understand that people are the key – that behind every great beer are great people who often overcame great struggles to make it so. 


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Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing

By Lars Marius Garshol

Book cover of Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing

Why this book?

I met Lars at a brewing conference in Norway several years ago when he was researching and writing his blog on the history of beers in the region. He had spent years visiting farms across northern Europe, tasting the farmhouse beers, talking with the brewers, and learning the techniques that had been passed down through the generations. That blog eventually became this book, and along the way, he “re-discovered” and introduced a new class of brewing yeast to the world. This book is an incredible journey back in time to places that continue to exist in the present day. In fact, I bet if you ask 100 professional brewers for their top five reading list, this book would be on every one. 


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American Sour Beers

By Michael Tonsmeire

Book cover of American Sour Beers

Why this book?

This book was a difficult choice because there are a plethora of great books on various beer styles and ingredients that make for engaging reading. But this book is notable for pulling back the veil of mystery around a whole class of beers that most people are not familiar with, and those are sour beers. These beers are produced by fermentation with both yeast and bacteria, instead of yeast alone. Sour beers are not new, they have, without doubt, been around as long as beer itself, with many different techniques for producing them. These techniques often took years to produce a consistent and palatable product. This book documents the renaissance of sour beer production in American craft brewing and teaches you how to brew delicious sour beers yourself. 


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