The best brewing books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about brewing and why they recommend each book.

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Ancient Brews

By Patrick E. McGovern,

Book cover of Ancient Brews: Rediscovered and Re-Created

Patrick (Dr. Pat) McGovern, the Indiana Jones of ancient alcoholic beverages, takes the reader on a roller coaster ride through the nine extreme brewed beverages of history. On these journeys, McGovern is at once an archaeologist, a chemist, and a homebrewer.  His book is an amazing compilation of the mechanics of brewing both ancient and modern, and a wonderful comment on the human propensity for drinking and enjoying fermented and brewed beverages. It includes some recipes and food pairings for the ancient brews it describes. This book is a must-have for any beer aficionado, brewer, homebrewer, or even your everyday barstool cowboy.


Who are we?

Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle are both curators at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  Rob is a molecular systematist who has done research on everything from fruit fly diversity to human language, and Ian is a specialist in the study of human evolution and primates. They have collaborated on several exhibition projects, including the American Museum’s Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, and have written several books together, including the trilogy we are featuring here.


I wrote...

A Natural History of Wine

By Ian Tattersall, Rob DeSalle, Patricia J. Wynne (illustrator)

Book cover of A Natural History of Wine

What is my book about?

A Natural History of Wine (and its companion volumes A Natural History of Beer and the forthcoming Distilled: A Natural History of Spirits) all involve the science behind the alcoholic beverages we enjoy. Having long relied on wine for inspiration while writing books on subjects as diverse as race and the origin of humans, we ultimately realized that this magical drink brings together many different branches of science, from anthropology to zoology via areas as disparate as astrophysics, neurobiology, systematics, and ecology.

And as forbidding as those subjects may sound, we realized that all are much more fun and accessible when seen through the lens of wine. We also discovered just how much understanding a drink’s history, and how it found its way to that glass in your hand, enhances one’s enjoyment of it.

Tasting Beer

By Randy Mosher,

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

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. 


Who am I?

I was that child who always took things apart to see how they worked. I was always interested in new gizmos and technology, but found myself most drawn to raw materials – how does this make that, and how can I make that better? Eventually, this led me to engineering school and the aerospace industry. Along the way, I got interested in beer and asked, “why didn’t this work?” That question, vehemently directed at my first batch of homebrew, lead to the first edition of How to Brew. Thirty-something years later, I'm the Chief Editor for the Master Brewers Association – an international professional organization for brewers founded in Chicago in 1887.


I wrote...

How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

By John J. Palmer,

Book cover of How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

What is my book about?

“Owning How to Brew is like having a brewmaster as your best friend. In the 30+ years since the American craft beer revolution got its start, countless brewing books have appeared. None, however has achieved the status of How to Brew, which is thorough, comprehensive, and beautifully organized. And now, this new expanded and enhanced edition improves on the original. It’s a considerable feat to create a book that is invaluable both to first-time brewers and professional brewmasters, but John has done it with a book that is essential for everyone who is serious about brewing.”  — Jim Koch, Founder & Brewer of Samuel Adams

The Brewmaster's Table

By Garrett Oliver,

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

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.


Who am I?

I was that child who always took things apart to see how they worked. I was always interested in new gizmos and technology, but found myself most drawn to raw materials – how does this make that, and how can I make that better? Eventually, this led me to engineering school and the aerospace industry. Along the way, I got interested in beer and asked, “why didn’t this work?” That question, vehemently directed at my first batch of homebrew, lead to the first edition of How to Brew. Thirty-something years later, I'm the Chief Editor for the Master Brewers Association – an international professional organization for brewers founded in Chicago in 1887.


I wrote...

How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

By John J. Palmer,

Book cover of How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

What is my book about?

“Owning How to Brew is like having a brewmaster as your best friend. In the 30+ years since the American craft beer revolution got its start, countless brewing books have appeared. None, however has achieved the status of How to Brew, which is thorough, comprehensive, and beautifully organized. And now, this new expanded and enhanced edition improves on the original. It’s a considerable feat to create a book that is invaluable both to first-time brewers and professional brewmasters, but John has done it with a book that is essential for everyone who is serious about brewing.”  — Jim Koch, Founder & Brewer of Samuel Adams

Historical Brewing Techniques

By Lars Marius Garshol,

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

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. 


Who am I?

I was that child who always took things apart to see how they worked. I was always interested in new gizmos and technology, but found myself most drawn to raw materials – how does this make that, and how can I make that better? Eventually, this led me to engineering school and the aerospace industry. Along the way, I got interested in beer and asked, “why didn’t this work?” That question, vehemently directed at my first batch of homebrew, lead to the first edition of How to Brew. Thirty-something years later, I'm the Chief Editor for the Master Brewers Association – an international professional organization for brewers founded in Chicago in 1887.


I wrote...

How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

By John J. Palmer,

Book cover of How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

What is my book about?

“Owning How to Brew is like having a brewmaster as your best friend. In the 30+ years since the American craft beer revolution got its start, countless brewing books have appeared. None, however has achieved the status of How to Brew, which is thorough, comprehensive, and beautifully organized. And now, this new expanded and enhanced edition improves on the original. It’s a considerable feat to create a book that is invaluable both to first-time brewers and professional brewmasters, but John has done it with a book that is essential for everyone who is serious about brewing.”  — Jim Koch, Founder & Brewer of Samuel Adams

Reckless Memories

By Catherine Cowles,

Book cover of Reckless Memories

Reckless Memories is the first book in the standalone Wrecked series. Ford and Bell will capture your heart with their second chance at love. There’s angst and tension and a swoon-worthy love story brewing amidst suspenseful moments. If you love a good romance with Nora Roberts’ feels, you’ll enjoy this story!


Who am I?

As well as being an author of romance and an upcoming thriller, I am an avid reader. I’ve been passionate about books since I was a little girl, and I read a ton every year…often reading several at any given time. Books are my favorite pastime and my favorite subject to talk about, hands down. I did a podcast for several years—Living in the Pages—where I talked to authors from all over the world about their books and their process in writing. My TBR (to-be-read) list is never-ending.


I wrote...

True Love Story

By Willow Aster,

Book cover of True Love Story

What is my book about?

Growing up in an idealistic home, Sparrow Fisher is sheltered and innocent. When she meets Ian Sterling, a musician who is rising in popularity, she instantly falls for his charm. The attraction is instant, but their relationship isn't so simple.

True Love Story is a story about the real highs and lows that come with a relationship—happiness, pain, angst—and finding out if love really is enough.

Ambitious Brew

By Maureen Ogle,

Book cover of Ambitious Brew : The Story of American Beer

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. 


Who am I?

I was that child who always took things apart to see how they worked. I was always interested in new gizmos and technology, but found myself most drawn to raw materials – how does this make that, and how can I make that better? Eventually, this led me to engineering school and the aerospace industry. Along the way, I got interested in beer and asked, “why didn’t this work?” That question, vehemently directed at my first batch of homebrew, lead to the first edition of How to Brew. Thirty-something years later, I'm the Chief Editor for the Master Brewers Association – an international professional organization for brewers founded in Chicago in 1887.


I wrote...

How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

By John J. Palmer,

Book cover of How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

What is my book about?

“Owning How to Brew is like having a brewmaster as your best friend. In the 30+ years since the American craft beer revolution got its start, countless brewing books have appeared. None, however has achieved the status of How to Brew, which is thorough, comprehensive, and beautifully organized. And now, this new expanded and enhanced edition improves on the original. It’s a considerable feat to create a book that is invaluable both to first-time brewers and professional brewmasters, but John has done it with a book that is essential for everyone who is serious about brewing.”  — Jim Koch, Founder & Brewer of Samuel Adams

American Sour Beers

By Michael Tonsmeire,

Book cover of American Sour Beers

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. 


Who am I?

I was that child who always took things apart to see how they worked. I was always interested in new gizmos and technology, but found myself most drawn to raw materials – how does this make that, and how can I make that better? Eventually, this led me to engineering school and the aerospace industry. Along the way, I got interested in beer and asked, “why didn’t this work?” That question, vehemently directed at my first batch of homebrew, lead to the first edition of How to Brew. Thirty-something years later, I'm the Chief Editor for the Master Brewers Association – an international professional organization for brewers founded in Chicago in 1887.


I wrote...

How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

By John J. Palmer,

Book cover of How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time

What is my book about?

“Owning How to Brew is like having a brewmaster as your best friend. In the 30+ years since the American craft beer revolution got its start, countless brewing books have appeared. None, however has achieved the status of How to Brew, which is thorough, comprehensive, and beautifully organized. And now, this new expanded and enhanced edition improves on the original. It’s a considerable feat to create a book that is invaluable both to first-time brewers and professional brewmasters, but John has done it with a book that is essential for everyone who is serious about brewing.”  — Jim Koch, Founder & Brewer of Samuel Adams

Drink

By Iain Gately,

Book cover of Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol

People have been making and drinking alcoholic beverages for as long as the technology has been around that allows them to do so – some 8,000 years, as it turns out. In this glorious gallop through the long and varied history – or, rather, multifarious histories – of beer, wine, and spirits around the world, packed with odd facts that will make you a champ at any booze trivia quiz, Iain Gately entertainingly shows how tightly intertwined the various forms of alcoholic beverages have been over the centuries with the societies that produce them, and how our western love/hate relationship with the demon alcohol has evolved.


Who are we?

Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle are both curators at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  Rob is a molecular systematist who has done research on everything from fruit fly diversity to human language, and Ian is a specialist in the study of human evolution and primates. They have collaborated on several exhibition projects, including the American Museum’s Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, and have written several books together, including the trilogy we are featuring here.


I wrote...

A Natural History of Wine

By Ian Tattersall, Rob DeSalle, Patricia J. Wynne (illustrator)

Book cover of A Natural History of Wine

What is my book about?

A Natural History of Wine (and its companion volumes A Natural History of Beer and the forthcoming Distilled: A Natural History of Spirits) all involve the science behind the alcoholic beverages we enjoy. Having long relied on wine for inspiration while writing books on subjects as diverse as race and the origin of humans, we ultimately realized that this magical drink brings together many different branches of science, from anthropology to zoology via areas as disparate as astrophysics, neurobiology, systematics, and ecology.

And as forbidding as those subjects may sound, we realized that all are much more fun and accessible when seen through the lens of wine. We also discovered just how much understanding a drink’s history, and how it found its way to that glass in your hand, enhances one’s enjoyment of it.

The Professional Barista's Handbook

By Scott Rao,

Book cover of The Professional Barista's Handbook: An Expert Guide to Preparing Espresso, Coffee, and Tea

It is hard to pick just one of Scott Rao’s books as they have become the industry standard. If you want to learn more about how the best cafes approach coffee brewing, to steal the best bits for your home brewing, then this is a really great place to start.


Who am I?

I’ve been working in coffee for nearly 20 years, and teaching people about coffee for most of that. I love sharing how interesting, diverse, and fun the world of coffee is, and I want people to enjoy and value the coffee they drink a little more. It is a passion and a career that’s taken me around the world, and continues to reinforce the idea that just a little effort or interest in your morning coffee has surprisingly large rewards. The books on this list inspired my own passion for coffee and I hope they do the same for you.


I wrote...

How To Make The Best Coffee At Home

By James Hoffmann,

Book cover of How To Make The Best Coffee At Home

What is my book about?

More and more people are brewing coffee at home, and this book covers everything you need to know to make that coffee better. The goal is to understand the most important aspects of brewing, so it can be simpler and easier rather than more complicated.

Covering everything from how to buy coffee, how to better taste coffee, right through how to brew it in a wide array of different brewers, this is a concise but complete book that will make your mornings that bit more delightful.

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