2018 Holiday Beer Book Gift Guide

Black Friday, November 23rd, is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, and this year there are some great beer books worth gifting. We chose ten of the best, all newish beer books worth adding to your collection or someone else’s, all available now on amazon.

Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out

In a time when selling out to the big guys is as controversial and important to the craft beer dialogue as it is today, Josh Noel’s examination of the first major modern craft brewery sell-out is a must read. When Chicago’s Goose Island Brewing sold to Anheuser-Busch in 2011, it was almost unthinkable news; the path forward for the brewery seemed unknowable, and the course it charted would prove a learning experience for all. Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out author Josh Noel first broke the news of the Goose Island sale for the Chicago Tribune and knows the true story better than just abut anyone else. In addition to tracking the history of Goose Island, what happened and why, Noel also addresses through personal anecdotes from industry leaders: how should a brewery grow?

Homebrew World

The latest book with regular Imbibe and Beer Advocate magazine beer writer Joshua Bernstein discovers the eclectic, exotic and sometimes bizarre and always fascinating world of homebrewing and homebrewers. In his book Homebrew World, you will learn everything from award winning and eccentric homebrewers, from what equipment they use to secret techniques and ingredients. Some of the world’s great homebrewers will explain how they went from stovetop extract recipe homebrewers to award winning and best-selling commercial brewers. Finally Bernstein will show you how to really delve into homebrewing, competitions and festivals, as well as providing some top notch recipes from the best homebrewers in the biz.

The Secrets of Master Brewers

Portland’s own Jeff Alworth talks with brewmasters worldwide to uncover little known stories, brewing tricks and other secrets of the trade. The Secrets of Master Brewers will take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of 26 major European and North American breweries and explore some of the world’s foremost style-defining or revolutionary beers. Like Cantwell’s Brewing Eclectic IPA, this book does feature 26 original recipes for you to brew yourself, as well as exploring other tips and tricks that could be applied to many different original recipes. According to the book description, you will: Learn how the Irish make stout, the secrets of traditional Czech pilsner, and what makes English cask ale unique by delving deep into the specific techniques, equipment, and geographical factors that shape these distinctive styles.

Trappist Beer Travels

Perhaps the most handsomely presented title on this list, Trappist Beer Travels is a hardcover, black cloth and foil imprinted tome for Belgian beer lovers. Part history book, travelogue and beer journal, this book is a chance to get an inside look including stories and obscure facts on monastic breweries. Trappist Beer Travels treats its readers with a rare all access literary trip inside monastery walls for an in-depth look at the legendary breweries of Trappist monks.

Gose: Brewing a Classic German Beer for the Modern Era

Now one of the most ubiquitous and talked about beer styles, the gose almost didn’t event exist 10 years ago. Only the hazy IPA has possibly had a quicker rise to fame and popularity than the gose, and the story of this Austria based creation is much more interesting. Today’s versions of gose share little in common with the historical gose and author/brewmaster Fal Allen is one of those most responsible for the modern interpretation with his goses from Anderson Valley Brewing. From the books description: Discover brewing methods from the Middle Ages and learn how to translate them to modern day beer. Learn about salinity, spices, and lactic acid as you experiment with gose recipes from some of the best-known craft brewers of our time.

Brewing Local

One of the world’s foremost beer writers and researchers, Stan Hieronymus, takes a deep dive on beers using cultivated and foraged ingredients. With farmhouse and other wild, historical and exotic ales making a big splash in the last few years, Brewing Local hits at just the right time. Brewing Local touches on the locavore movement, highlighting locally-grown, traditional ingredients from yeast to herbs, flowers, plants, trees, nuts, and shrubs flavor unique beers.

Brewing Eclectic IPA: Pushing the Boundaries of India Pale Ale 

There may not be a more relevant brewing and style book today than Dick Cantwell’s Brewing Eclectic IPA. Cantwell is famous for being the co-owner/Brewmater at Elysian Brewing who refused to go along with its sale to Anheuser-Busch and now owns SF’s Magnolia Brewing. At Elysian, Cantwell was one of the first to start brewing juicy and tropical IPAs and strange/unique versions of tradional craft beers. In Brewing Eclectic IPA, Cantwell will talk about how brewers are using a wide range of flavors to push the boundaries of the style with stuff like cocoa nibs to coffee, fruits to vegetables, spices, herbs, and even wood. This book not only talks style and ingredients; it also has 24 recipes for contemporary IPAs for you to try your hand at brewing.

Beer Pairing: The Essential Guide from the Pairing Pros

Beer and food pairing books are practically a dime a dozen, but Julie Herz, former director of the Brewers Association puts her stamp on the category with a definitive guide on how to do it. I’d still recommend checking out classics that are more about actually cooking with beer like Garrett Oliver’s The Brewmaster’s Table, Lucy Saunders Dinner in the Beer Garden or our own local Christian deBenedetti’s (of Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery) Beer Bites. What sets this book apart is that it explains how the effects of aroma, taste, preference work with pairing. This isn’t as basic as amber ale pairs well with burgers, this is going to dispel myths and explore more unusual palate experiences through pairings. Beer Pairing: The Essential Guide from the Pairing Pros does include tips from some of the industry’s great pros, as well as scientific geeking out on how our body experiences flavors. If you ever want to become a master pairer and create your own dishes and pairings, then this is the book for you.

Beer Hiking the Pacific Northwest

In the Pacific Northwest, there are few things we love more than beer and the outdoors. This new guidebook by veteran hikers leads you on 50 PNW hikes, selected for their beauty and where they land near a brewery. The hikes in this book run from one hour jaunts to six hour day trips. The compact tome fits nicely into a glove box or backpack for a handy trail guide to bring along on your hiking and beery travels.

The Widmer Way

This one won’t arrive until after Christmas, but you can now pre-order Jeff Alworth’s history of Portland’s milestone brewers/brewery Widmer Brothers. The Widmer Way will chronicle founders and namesake brothers Kurt and Rob Widmer from homebrewing to becoming craft beer pioneers and goliath of the industry that they are today. Among their contributions was bringing the Hefeweizen to America and defining the American version of the historic German-style. The Widmer Way will also explore the Widmer family history and German influence to such controversial decisions as pairing with Anheuser-Busch.

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com