Do you have a beer lover in your life and are unsure what to give them this year? We’ve got you covered with the best gifts, from apparel to glasses to gadgets, for all the beer-lovers on your list in our Holiday Gift Guide! Each day this week we will cover a different category of beer-related gifts.
Today we are looking at books on beer and brewing.
Building a Beer-Book Library
Books are a classic and wonderful gift, and even in today’s time of ereaders and the internet a quality edition can be treasured for a lifetime. There are hundreds of books on craft beer with more being published monthly, but there are a few that stand-out as great additions to any beer-lover’s library
The Beer of Tomorrow Pick: Tasting Beer
We’ve talked about Randy Mosher’s comprehensive work on beer before, and I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is an engaging read that covers the history of beer, the methods of tasting and appreciating beer, the development of styles, and everything in between. It feels like I learn something new about beer every time I pick it up.
Randy deftly modulates between an entertainingly florid voice and more direct and informative prose that helps convey sometimes nebulous concepts of flavor, food pairings, and sense-memory. Tasting Beer is basically required reading for BJCP or Cicerone certifications, but the book is never dry, and it is a joy to read.
The volume is colorful and packed full of great charts and illustrations, and I recommend the physical edition of the book since it is such a useful reference volume and it is great to pick-up and flip through. However, there is a fantastic electronic version of the book available through electronic textbook service Inkling.
Inkling preserves the readability of the attractively laid-out book while presenting it on your phone, tablet, or desktop compute, and individual chapters are available for purchase for just $2 each, and there is a free preview chapter available to test out.
Great Beers of Belgium (Amazon link)
No list of books on beer would be complete without some entry by the renowned and lauded hero of beer-writers Michael Jackson. There is no other writer who has done as much for beer in America (and the rest of the world) as Michael Jackson, and any of his works make for a wonderful gift. Great Beers of Belgium is a wonderful place to start as his coverage of the often esoteric and complex Belgian beer scene is unmatched.
I don’t think there is any other writer whose words can make you as thirsty as Michael Jackson’s, and his prose is always light, fun, and engaging. Unfortunately many of his other books on beer are currently out of print (though we doubt that will last long as publisher rush more beer books to the market), but there are always used editions available from Amazon. Look for Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion, DK Book’s Ultimate Beer, or Michael Jackson’s Great Beer Guide for more great works by the undisputed master of beer-writing.
The Brewmaster’s Table (Amazon Link)
This book by the Brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, Garett Oliver, delves into the realm of food and beer pairings, and it is a delightful and entertaining read. The author has an obvious passion for food, and his gourmand tendencies infuse the text with an earnest and relatable vibe that makes for an enjoyable read. The Brewmaster’s Table also covers the basics of beer brewing and history, but, even if you are well versed in the “basics” of brewing and beer history, the subject remains interesting because of how Oliver frames these topics around how to best exploit beer’s natural affinity for food.
While all beer books read better with a pint at-hand, this is especially true for The Brewmaster’s Table, and the book will make you both hungry and thirsty. Garret Oliver is an accomplished expert on the subject of food and beer, and he is gifted with a voice that deftly demystified a topic that often feels esoteric and arcane. The book will change the way you think about pairing beer and food, and it will instil you with confidence and strip you of apprehension about pairings.
It would make an excellent gift for the chef (aspiring or otherwise) or foodie in your life.
The Craft of Stone Brewing Co (Amazon Link)
Part biography, part cook book, and part manifesto, The Craft of Stone Brewing Co is a unique look into one of the most iconic craft beer brands around. A great gift for the Stone fan in your life, the book covers the history of the brewery and the men behind it. It also provides insight into the beers made by Stone, their place in the bigger craft beer world, and a large collection of home brew recipes and food pairing ideas.
The book has an abundance of recipes, history, and attitude, and it’s a well put together and enjoyable read. The text is always light and informative thanks to Randy Clemens’ punchy writing, and the photos are all drool-worthy.
Home Brewing Books
Home brewing is a topic that we haven’t covered much on Beer of Tomorrow, but it is a natural extension of craft beer fandom. After all, it is surprisingly easy to turn out your own beer in your kitchen, even without lots of specialized equipment. The Craft of Stone Brewing Co touches on home brewing and has some advice for starting, but there are a few other books that are geared towards the beginning brewer that are must-reads:
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (Amazon Link)
The current edition of the seminal work on homebrewing by Brewers Association president and pioneer of the homebrewing movement, Charles Papzian is often considered the bible of homebrewing. This book is responsible for launching an untold-number of brewer’s careers, and it is as relevant today as it was when the first edition came off the presses. The Complete Joy of Homebrewing is required reading for all brewers no matter the size of their system
How to Brew (Amazon Link)
Another basic instruction manual for the home brewer, How to Brew is one that I actually prefer over Papzian’s Joy of Homebrewing. How to Brew can be a little tougher to digest, but it has more details on the advanced techniques that make the best beer, and I like his coverage of brewing different styles.
Both books are indispensable references for the home brewer that come off the shelf on nearly every brew day.
Designing Great Beers (Amazon Link)
Written by Ray Daniels -the founder of the Cicerone certification program – this book is aimed at the more experienced home brewer, and it goes into great detail on the specifics of creating and executing your own recipes. It covers everything about brewing from water quality to fermentation and serving, and it explains the science behind each step. The book reads like a text-book (and it is used in many brewing science courses as such), but the content is invaluable to any brewer with command on the basics that is looking to take their beers to the next level.
Designing Great Beers also has an exhaustive section on the history and differences among classic beer style that is an invaluable tool when studying for any of the beer certification tests.
You can see the other Beer of Tomorrow recommended gifts for the craft beer fans in your life in our Gift Guide Index here!
*Please note that all links to Amazon in this post are Beer of Tomorrow referral links that will help support the site.