Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Beer Books

For my 14th Top 10 list I’m a book state of mind. I’ve been trying to finish two book proposals since last year and a third book came up recently that I have to finish in about six weeks. Then earlier this week, a colleague sent me yet another invitation to pitch a book that a specific publisher wants to do. So I took a look through my own library of beer books and decided to pick my ten favorites. I also decided to not include guidebooks (sorry, Lew), fiction or homebrewing books (sorry, Charlie) in the list. That essentially leaves reference books and history, which is what I tend to gravitate toward. Some I felt I had to include because of their influence on me once upon a time, even if they’ve become dated over time. So by top ten, I simply mean the ones I like best or find most useful on a regular basis, and not including several popular type of beer books. And of course, I don’t own every beer book, though I do have quite a few. So the list is hardly scientific. You probably won’t agree with my choices, but that’s okay. I’d love to hear your choices. Anyway, here’s List #14:

Top 10 Beer Books

The Essentials of Beer Styles by Fred Eckhardt. It’s hard to believe that Fred’s little book is only 20 years old, but it cataloged beer styles in a brand new way, one that’s been picked up by everybody since, from the BA to the BJCP.
Great Beers of Belgium by Michael Jackson. Most of us have a soft spot for the beers of Belgium, and Michael’s book bring them to life in a way no other book has managed.
Ambitious Brew by Maureen Ogle. From the Golden Age to the Silver Age, Maureen’s thoroughly researched history eschewed mythology for fact and remains one of the few records of the early days of craft beer.
Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher. A brand new book, Randy’s book was one that needed to be written, to replace Evaluating Beer, a book with much good information but disjointed and hard to use because of the format and multiple authors. Tasting Beer pulls it all together in one easy-to-use book.
Amber, Gold & Black by Martyn Cornell. Martyn’s pdf-only book takes on many sacred cows of the beer canon and shows us their true history.
Drink by Iain Gaitley. Gaitley’s thick, dense book is not just about beer, but it has so much new, interesting and informative material in one place that it’s a delight on every page.
The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver. There are plenty of good beer and food books, but Garrett’s broke new ground and changed how we view the relationship of food to beer forever.
Brewed In America by Stanley Baron. Originally published in 1962, it’s still the standard, rich with information, though the language is a little dry.
New World Guide To Beer by Michael Jackson. The 1977, or original, edition was the first beer book I ever bought. I still consult the latest edition from time to time and often just enjoy paging through it.
Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion by Michael Jackson. Hands down my favorite beer book. It’s not just informative and rich with stories, but I love the language of it. A masterpiece of reference books.


As usual, it was pretty hard to keep the list to ten, and a great many wonderful books didn’t fit on the shelf. Here’s a few more that almost made the list:

The Beer Bistro Cookbook by Stephen Beaumont & Brian Morin; The Best of American Beer & Food by Lucy Saunders; Brew Like A Monk by Stan Hieronymus ; The Encyclopedia of World Beer by Benjamin Myers & Graham Lees; The English Pub by Michael Jackson; Good Man’s Weakness by Charles McCabe (admittedly a work of fiction and essays, but read it and you’ll see why it’s on this list); Grape vs. Grain by Charles Bamforth; He Said Beer, She Said Wine by Sam Calagione & Marnie Old; One Hundred Years of Brewing: A Complete History of the Progress Made in the Art, Science and Industry of Brewing During the Nineteenth Century; Origin & History of Beer & Brewing by John P. Arnold; Premium Beer Drinker’s Guide by Stephen Beaumont; and Ultimate Beer by Michael Jackson

Let me know your favorite beer books, and why.


Also, if you have any ideas for future Top 10 lists you’d like to see, drop me a line.


  1. says

    There are a ton of great homebrewing texts but that might be for another list, I do think Red, White and Brew Brian Yaeger’s book from last year deserves an honorable mention, it’s a fun read and it’s a unique look at the American brewing culture.

  2. Mitch says

    I agree with every book on this list.
    Designing Great Beers, by Ray Daniels, may be considered a homebrew text, but contains a ton of information on historical aspects of the style, historical and current ingredient usage as well. A great read.
    Brew Like A Monk is one of my favorites. Agree with Amber, Gold and Black-fantastic information! Travels With Barley is a fun book as well.

  3. says

    Three Sheets to the Wind, by Pete Brown.

    I haven’t read “Man Walks into a Pub” yet, and eagerly await “Hops and Glory”. Three Sheets is all about beer culture. To paraphrase one section, Spanish beer isn’t great, but drinking beer in Spain is amazing.


  4. says

    The English Pub by Michael Jackson…

    Motor – You can borrow our copy of Man Walks into a Pub… And I don’t think Pete has a US deal for Hops and Glory yet. I was going to try to pick up a copy when we pass through Heathrow in July.


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