1. How to Brew by John Palmer
|My well-worn copy of How to Brew by John Palmer.|
A vast majority of the chapters are purely about brewing - mostly extract at the beginning, but he goes into all grain later. Palmer gives an overview of the process for both extract and all-grain and then devotes an entire chapter to each step - from malt to sanitation to yeast and fermentation. The chapters are helpful, practical, and easy to follow.
Later in the book, he goes into much more of the science of brewing with water profiles and mash pH. There are many charts and appendices to help, including chapters on how to make your own mash tun and immersion chiller. Palmer even provides some of his own recipes in both extract and all grain for you to try.
If you are looking for one book to buy, get this one, especially if you have never brewed before.
2. Extreme Brewing by Sam Calagione
|A book that got a lot of use in my early batches.|
While I did say this book is "all about brewing," I wouldn't use it as my guide to "how to brew." (That, obviously is the first book above, "How to Brew.") While Sam gives a brief overview, it is just that: brief. Where this book shines is in the recipes.
It is geared toward extract brewers, but all grain brewers can gain inspiration. Sam gives several Dogfishead recipes, like 60 Minute IPA and Indian Brown Ale. Other well known brewers from across the country also give some of their recipes, too. Along with clones of professional beers, there are also some originals, each with its own unique twists - from kiwi wheat to pumpkin stouts and a variety of crazy recipes in between. If you need ideas, like some "off centered" beers, and are just starting out, this can make brewing pretty fun - at least more fun than buying a pre-made kit in a box.
3. Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher
|A fun book to flip through.|
Again, this is not a "how to brew" book, though there is a chapter that touches on the process. This book is all about recipes. Crazy recipes. Radical recipes.
This is not a book to get if you want to brew standard, Beer Judge Certification Program styles of beer. Spices, teas, sugars... all different ingredients to really expand your mind as to what can go into a beer. It is fun to flip through to see what inspires you. And this book can easily give inspiration to a boring ol' brew day.
So, there are a few of my favorite books, books which helped me get started in brewing and started me out right. Nothing sucks more than doing something horribly wrong the first time or two to make you want to quit. These books gave me a good overview of process and kept me experimenting with what a beer could be. Now I know what chamomile tastes like in a beer. I never would have known had I not read it and tried it.
So, best of luck to you. If you have any books that really helped you out or are worth a read, let me know about it.