Every time we find ourselves answering the same question more than two or three times on Twitter, we take that as a hint that a quick blog post on the subject is in order, if only to save us the trouble of repeating ourselves. One common question is ‘Which book on home brewing should I buy?’ and these are our recommendations.
- How to Brew by John Palmer. This is one of the best all-round guides. It’s perhaps a touch dry and even (or so we found) discouraging in places, but it’s worth a look, especially when the first edition is free online from the author’s website.
- Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher. Full of historically-informed recipes, crazy ideas, solid research and step-by-step advice, this is like having an inspirational teacher at hand. Particularly good on decoction mashing and brewing lager at home.
- Brew Like a Monk by Stan Hieronymus. In-depth research into the practices, recipes and ingredients used at Trappist and abbey breweries in Belgium, with bonus material on Duvel and other related beers. A fascinating read as well as a practical guide.
- Farmhouse Ales by Phil Markowski. Saison and Biere de Garde are given the same treatment as above. The book that helped us understand saison and, recently, to brew a pretty bloody good one.
- 1909 Style Guide by Ron Pattinson and Kristen England. Self-published so a little scrappy in places but the content… wow. Not only an education in what British beer was really like before World War I but also a goldmine of inspirational recipes and ideas. (Short version: more sugar in everything!) (Print on demand.)
- UPDATE 07/10/2014: for a broader range of historical recipes, and more professional presentation, we might now suggest Pattinson’s Homebrewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer (2014) instead.
Note: we haven’t yet come across a book of ‘clone’ recipes which is worth the bother; read one or two of the books above and you’ll be able to work most of them out yourself.