Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

5 Best Craft Beer Books to Have on Your Shelf

You love beer. You have strong opinions on the hazy IPA trend (and we won’t even get you started on brut IPAs). You know the best spot in town to get a flight of hard-to-find brews. You know all that, but you want to know more. Maybe you want to learn the science behind brewing, or take a deep dive into the history of beer. You might be curious why some brewers suggest specific glassware for their brews or perhaps you’re interested in starting your own brewery or taking a coast to coast craft beer road trip.

While all of this information can be found with a few well-worded internet searches, there’s something to be said about buying a good old-fashioned book to guide the way. These are the top five best craft beer books for would-be aficionados. (We must note, though, that many of these books have been reprinted and updated, so always make sure you’re getting the latest edition for the most up-to-date information.)

Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion by Michael Jackson

beer companion
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Not to be confused with the King of Pop, the beer world’s Michael Jackson was a journalist and critic who elevated the way beer is perceived in academic and culinary circles. Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion: The World’s Great Beer Styles, Gastronomy, and Traditions is an epic tome chock full of knowledge, offering a comprehensive guide to the history of brewing, style definitions, and beer pairings. Have a question about beer? You’re going to find the answer here.

Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher

tasting beer book
Image used with permission by copyright holder

After you’ve learned the background on beer, it’s time to get into the weeds. For budding Cicerone certificate applicants or future beer judges, there’s no better place to learn about the art of tasting beer than Mosher’s fun, accessible Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink. Readers will learn how water affects the taste of a beer and other factors that influence color, aroma, mouthfeel and (of course) flavor in a variety of beer styles. Even if you don’t want to become a judge, this book is a great way to get a handle on what you’re doing when you’re trying new beers.

The United States Of Craft Beer by Jess Lebow

the united states of craft beer book
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Now that you know how to properly taste and evaluate beer, it’s time for a road trip. Lebow’s The United States Of Craft Beer: A Guide to the Best Craft Breweries Across America is a state-by-state travel guide that provides insight into the various regional differences in the craft beer scene. It’s full of excellent pictures and brewer profiles, along with lists of some of the best beers available in each state. It’s by no means an encyclopedic compendium of the nation’s craft breweries, but it’s a great place to start.

The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian

the complete joy of homebrewing
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You know beer’s history, how to drink it, and you’ve tried some of the best in the country. Now it’s time to make beer yourself. Papazian’s Complete Joy of Homebrewing is the bible for DIY beer nerds. This book covers the chemistry of brewing, explains the ingredients involved, and (most importantly) offers easy-to-follow recipes. This may very well be the only homebrewing book you ever need to buy. The book has been in print since 1984, and there’s a good chance it’s the guide your favorite commercial brewer used to get started as well.

Brewing Up a Business by Sam Calagione

brewing up a business
Image used with permission by copyright holder

At this point, you’ve absorbed so much beer knowledge, you may as well start your own brewery. Calagione — more on him here — is one of the most charismatic figures in craft beer. His memoir, Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Beer from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, is full of entertaining stories from how he got his start to the rigors of running one of the United States’ largest craft breweries. You’ll laugh, you’ll be inspired, you’ll gain knowledge about entrepreneurship, and perhaps learn whether or not you have the mettle to become a craft beer professional.

Editors' Recommendations

Lee Heidel
Lee Heidel is the managing editor of Brew/Drink/Run, a website and podcast that promotes brewing your own beer, consuming the…
5 fun ways to sneak whiskey and other booze into your breakfast foods
Who doesn't want more booze in their breakfast foods?
People toasting over plates

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That's how it goes, right? Our question is what exactly the word important refers to in this old cliché. Is it meant to mean that every breakfast should be an extravagant feast, a celebration of waking up to yet another unpromised sunrise here on this beautiful earth? Should we celebrate to the fullest with an abundance of delicious foods and drinks? If so, we wholeheartedly agree. If, on the other hand, it's meant to mean that breakfast should be healthy fuel so our bodies start the day feeling good...sure, that works, too. (Yawn.) We like the first option better.

In that spirit of a celebratory breakfast, whether you're celebrating a holiday, a breakfast-in-bed anniversary, special house guests, or Monday, cocktails needn't be the only way to indulge. These are some of our favorite unique ways to add a little of that celebratory spirit to your favorite breakfast foods in the form of booze.

Read more
11 best coffee books: Brew up a pot of knowledge
Find out everything there is to know about your cup of joe

Our steaming hot obsession with the benefits of coffee is shared by many, and it's only getting more and more prevalent. In fact, it's pretty hard to drink java without falling in love with the farming, roasting, flavors, recipes, craft, and buzz of this product — the entirety of coffee is all at once so simple and yet so incredibly complex.

Our picks for the best coffee books
After pouring over dozens of titles and drinking the best coffee around, we found the best books about coffee that will teach you something new and interesting about your favorite drink, whether you’re a simple fan or a highly trained barista. This list of the best coffee books covers sociology, entrepreneurship, fair trade, and how to make the best cup of coffee from the comfort of your own home, so put on a fresh pot and enjoy these good reads.

Read more
Another fan-favorite craft beer is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
Fan favorite breweries files for bankruptcy
Guanella Pass Brewing

If you haven’t paid much attention to the American beer landscape in the last few decades, you might have missed a massive boom. In 1994, there were only 500 or so breweries in the whole country. Today, there’s more than 9,000. But with that many breweries operating, how many can be financially viable in the long term? With all that saturation (pun intended), we’re beginning to see a glut of closings and bankruptcies.

Don’t believe us? Simply search “brewery bankruptcy” and you’ll be met with many stories about large and small breweries closing their doors, filing for bankruptcy, or being sold outright to big brands (that may or may not want to cease production).

Read more