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What book would you recommend for a beginner hoping to start with extract recipes or from an extract kit?

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From FAQ: "Avoid asking subjective or argumentative questions." One book per answer means you are voting on /books/ not /answers/, which makes this question inherently subjective. Please review the six guidelines for great subjective questions - blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective – Mike S Nov 9 '10 at 15:36

John Palmer's "How to Brew" is one of the most recommended books for anyone starting out with brewing. He goes over the process, the ingredients, and everything else you need to know to start out.

It's available online for free, or for about $15 on Amazon.

alt text

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I've read parts of this book and it is excellent – Joe Philllips Nov 9 '10 at 1:09
It's also great if you're switching to all-grain brewing. John knows his stuff. – Jeff L Nov 9 '10 at 1:12
I read this online for my first brew, then bought it outright. I'm a cheap college student, but this was completely worth it. – Fishtoaster Nov 9 '10 at 3:52
I bought this when I was first starting out and have it on hand during every brew session just in case. Its great for a quick reference and/or for a read through. – LoganGoesPlaces Nov 9 '10 at 15:46
A lot of detail, especially if you're just starting out. I find myself going back to get any time I see gaps in a recipe. – mummey Nov 16 '10 at 19:00

The complete joy of home brewing

The Complete Joy of Home Brewing

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You may want to condense your answer posts into one if you wish to be up-voted. – Mike S Nov 9 '10 at 1:17

The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charles Papazian seems to be a perennial favorite that is more colloquially written.

How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time by John J. Palmer is the cautious beginners guide.

The Complete Handbook of Home Brewing by David Miller is a classic guide

Obviously everyone will have a personal preference, but those three seem to be fairly prolific and well reviewed in the community. If you just want to brew a kit and get started, the Internet and/or the guide that comes with equipment kits will likely suffice.

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Please provide only one book per answer. Feel free to grab the image from my answer and then I'll delete mine – Joe Philllips Nov 9 '10 at 1:11
I'm the one who upvoted you by the way – Joe Philllips Nov 9 '10 at 1:41
We started with The Complete Joy of Homebrewing and it's very good and a very easy read. Definitely recommended. – Matt Kellogg Nov 9 '10 at 1:42
@Joe Please see my comment on the question. I was attempting to answer a subjective question as objectively as possible. I was trying to stay in line with the first guideline of subjective questions - "Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”." by providing rationale for /why/ each text would be good for a beginner. Thank you for the up-vote. – Mike S Nov 9 '10 at 15:40
I see your point. I don't see a problem with one book per answer as long as there is reasoning to go along with it. – Joe Philllips Nov 9 '10 at 17:25

Charlie Papazian also wrote "The Homebrewers' Companion", which fills in the gaps of "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing". Awesome author.

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The Brewmaster's Bible by Stephen Snyder
ISBN: 0-06-095216-4

Brewmaster's Bible

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This is definitely a great book! Taught me so much 6 years ago and is still teaching me today. – Room3 Nov 9 '10 at 21:57

Dave Millers Homebrewing Guide - Dave Miller
ISBN: 0882669052

Dave Millers Homebrewing Guide

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A great book for recipe design:

Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels

alt text

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I agree, this is a sweet book, but it is pretty heavy reading for a beginner homebrewer. – Joe Lencioni Nov 16 '10 at 15:22

My favorites are:

Any one of the above should be adequate, but having a few different ones for reference is a good thing.

The Palmer one is available online, but I much prefer my paper copy.

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