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Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  962 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Formulas, ingredients, historical and modern day brewing practices are all covered in this book. Drawing on information from old brewing records, books, contemporary beer analysis, and hundreds of recipes, the author provides a wealth of data on the current and historical brewing techniques and ingredients for 14 popular ale and lager styles. It also includes brewing calcu ...more
Paperback, 404 pages
Published January 26th 1998 by Brewers Publications
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How to Brew by John J. PalmerThe Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charles PapazianDesigning Great Beers by Ray DanielsRadical Brewing by Randy MosherBrewing Classic Styles by John J. Palmer
Best Homebrewing Books
3rd out of 32 books — 42 voters
Yeast by Chris   WhiteDesigning Great Beers by Ray DanielsBrewing Classic Styles by John J. PalmerExtreme Brewing by Sam CalagioneHow to Brew by John J. Palmer
Bjór- og Bruggbækur
2nd out of 6 books — 1 voter

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,841)
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Feb 15, 2013 David rated it it was amazing
Every since I first read this book I have referred to it as "The Bible" - so has every other brewer I have ever worked with. Not at all a book of recipes, this advanced brewing tome is more of a reference. My only complaint is the binding. I'm pretty sure I am on my 5th copy because the binding falls apart and the pages scatter. Perhaps that's because it gets used most of the time in a humid environment. Invaluable for recipe development, this book has it all - most every recipe formulae and tab ...more
Jon Lefor
Jun 02, 2015 Jon Lefor rated it it was amazing
For somebody who wants to really understand brewing science and how to brew classic styles this is an excellent read. It may be easier for me to read since I'm an engineer but I found every page of this book useful. The section on styles is also very great as it gives you a history of the style and then as an added bonus it gives you, albeit from 1994 or 1995, the general makeup of NHC second round beers for those styles which can help you to come up with your own version of classic styles of be ...more
Nov 10, 2012 Jon rated it really liked it
This is a fine book for beginning to intermediate brewers who want a reference for the characteristics of traditional styles. Part I covers ingredients and Part II tours the styles, including history, characteristics, suggested ingredients, and some words on technique. There are no recipes: this is for those who wish to formulate their own with some guidance. What is covered, is covered very well; the limitations come in the form of some odd omissions. Part I provides 120 pages of background on ...more
Bill West
Apr 15, 2014 Bill West rated it it was amazing
This brewing book keeps paying dividends. If you concoct your own recipes, it's an indispensable reference.
Wes Devauld
Jun 10, 2012 Wes Devauld rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Homebrewers
Shelves: brewing
This book is an excellent overview of the different styles of beer and what it takes to make them.

The book is separated into two halves, with the first being an overview of brewing ingredients and how changing different parts of the process will change the flavour of your beer. This is not an introduction to the process of brewing, for that read Palmer's book ( The detail of the first section is amazing, and is delivered using an easy to consume style.

May 31, 2016 James rated it it was amazing
An excellent book for intermediate homebrewers looking to crack into the science of brewing, and to make the jump from extract brewing to all grain brewing. I keep this on hand whenever I brew as a technical reference, and have used it to refine my recipes.
Apr 21, 2008 Aaron rated it it was amazing
Ray Daniels presents an analysis of the first and second place winning National Homebrew Contest recipes in over a dozen major beer styles. I use this book as a core reference when designing new beers; it allowed me to make the leap from brewing from other people's recipes to creating my own recipes in order to present my own interpretation of a particular beer style. I now brew almost exclusively from my own recipes, thanks in a large part to this book, and get a larger sense of satisfaction fr ...more
Dan Ryan
Dec 27, 2008 Dan Ryan rated it it was amazing
Probably the best homebrewing book I've ever read - this book does a great job of discussing ingredients and techniques for producing great beers. It also describes many of the major styles attempted by homebrewers, with valuable information on how to make them.

My only criticism of the book is that, in his analytical, scientific way, he presents the factual information on how the style recipes rather than great recipes. He reports what percentage of award-winning recipes use which kinds of malt
Ethan Yankura
Aug 04, 2013 Ethan Yankura rated it it was amazing
This book is a master class in beer styles and technique. The non-brewer will benefit from a definitive guide to some of the most classic profiles in zymurgy. The brewer will finally understand the building blocks of making beer. It can get overwhelming at times, reading like a chemistry textbook, but the science it reveals will make you a better brewer (and better equip you to understand what you are drinking). It does not contain recipes, rather formulas that will let you better understand the ...more
Jun 03, 2016 Mike rated it it was amazing
Best home brewing companion on the planet. Still a classic, after all these years. I'd love to see an updated version though!
Jul 02, 2014 Josh rated it it was amazing
An excellent resource no matter what your level of brewing skill. This was exactly the information I was lacking in order to be able to formulate my own recipes.
Jan 22, 2015 Anduim rated it really liked it
Muy interesante, pero no toca lo referente a elaboración. Muchas formulas interesantes e informacion de primera.
Bart Carter
a classic book for recipe formulation, it's simply a must read for the advanced homebrewer
Juan Vido
May 20, 2014 Juan Vido rated it really liked it
Buen libro para tener de lectura para estilos específicos, y sacarse dudas sobre la cocción.
Dec 30, 2009 Andrei rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
If you are into brewing beer, this book is for you. However, it's probably best to read some other introductory text first. It can be a rough read at times, full of charts, figures, numbers, and statistics. The first part of the book covers understanding, calculating, and controlling beer gravity, color, hop usage, malt selection, etc. The second part is dedicated to a range of beer styles, their history and development, and formulations based on commercial and NHC examples. I enjoyed reading th ...more
Feb 27, 2014 Eric rated it liked it
Some good info on ingredients in the first part of the book. Nothing revolutionary, but nice to have the information consolidated into one place. Some of the charts and tables (e.g. Breakdown of oil content in different hops) were quite useful and seem to be original.

The second part of the book has historical information as well as common brewing practices for various BJCP styles. The information was generally good, and my only complaint is that some major styles (e.g. Saison) were completely ab
Aug 31, 2008 James rated it really liked it
This is a good book to read for both brewers and non-brewers. For the brewers, it is a good overview of all the styles of beer and gives the reader an insight on what characteristics you need to achieve in your beer to label it a particular style. For the non-brewers, it is a good guide to what you should expect from a beer claiming to be of a particular style. After reading, you should be able to go to one of those bars that has 100 odd beers on the menu identify beers that you are likely to en ...more
Mar 09, 2011 Doug rated it liked it
This book provides an interesting mix of analysis of ingredients and methods, history of various styles, and breakdowns of commercial and competitive homebrew beers. It is a good reference for use when creating your own recipes, with various notes for designing beers for sale, competition, or general exploration. The focus is on English and German styles. There is little mention of Belgian beers, but then most Belgian styles are not as neatly defined as those of England and Germany.
Bobby Chastain
Jun 25, 2010 Bobby Chastain rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brewing
Amazing source of information on the science and craft of brewing. If you want an intimate knowledge of how every element of your beer, from grain varieties to hop varieties and adjuncts effects the end product, this book will give you the most in-depth knowledge that I can find on the subject. Even more than ingredient description/analysis you will find equations for calculating brewhouse efficiency, water quantity needed, IBUs, and so on. Very informative "text book" on brewing.
Nov 14, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
I've finally read most of this book. You can't read it cover to cover, though there are portions that are good to read that way. It's definitely a reference book, and it's definitely not for new brewers. It took me a long time to come to appreciate what it offers-- a detailed analysis of modern and historical takes on all the major styles of beer, and a discussion of the roles of various ingredients in accomplishing various representations of those styles.
Jonathan Pistorino
Apr 23, 2009 Jonathan Pistorino rated it it was amazing
Definitely not a beginners book. This book discusses most common styles of beer and helps break down their flavor/aroma profiles so that you can recreate the style with various ingredients.

I really appreciate their statistics of what ingredients were used and which combination of ingredients tend to win competitions.

(Ex. Surprisingly, California Lager yeast does not always produce the best steam style beers.)
Jun 04, 2013 David rated it really liked it
This book has given me the confidence to start crafting my own recipes with something more than wild guesswork. I really don't have a reason to give this 4 rather than 5 stars except for the fact that my enjoyment of it is of a practical rather than a literary nature (not that it is not well written). I highly recommend it for any homebrewer who is ready to look into the "why" and "how" of various beer styles.
Apr 08, 2014 Aaron rated it really liked it
A little dated in some regards, but this is still an amazing book on recipe formulation. If you want to sit down and create a recipe entirely without the help of brewing software, this book will help you do it. Not only that, but it will help with understanding all the ins and outs of what works and why.
May 28, 2008 Morgan rated it really liked it
Shelves: brewing
Here the author profiles some common beer styles, and what winning entries have used for ingredients and methods. This is great for learning how to formulate your own recipes.

However, I'm brewing a lot of Belgian and less-common German beers these days, so I find myself referencing this book less and less; there are no profiles for Belgian beers and very little German beers.
Jun 15, 2007 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: brewers
The definitive text for recipe design. It is used by both homebrewers and commercial brewers to design the recipes that everyone loves. It gives an historic and technical examination of most beer styles. A must own for the brewer.

note: For an examination of Belgian-inspired beers, check out Brew Like a Monk, Farmhouse Ales and Wild Brews.
Jul 08, 2011 Beeraucratic rated it it was amazing
This is super helpful reference for beginning and veteran brewers. Daniels breaks down a ton of style by historical evolution then dissects a bunch of AHA second round finalists in each style to let you know how these beers are most commonly "built" today. It really helped me take my brewing to the next level.
Matt Bradley
May 08, 2014 Matt Bradley rated it liked it
Plethora of information, however an updated version would be more handy. He uses winners of the National Homebrew Competition in 1993 and 1994 to discuss styles and how to brew them. Styles have changed and have grown since then. Also, would have been interested in more commercial examples.
Ml Stephens
Feb 10, 2011 Ml Stephens rated it really liked it
Still one of my favorite brewing texts. Daniels' ability to parse some of the vital details in crafting various styles is surpassed by very few writers. This is a book I refer too again and again (and find other brewers doing so as well). Looking for a gift for your homebrewer? Here it is.
May 05, 2014 Shawn rated it it was amazing
While parts are a little dated and I wish a few more styles (e.g. Belgians) were presented, all-in-all this is a great book for a brewer looking to go beyond the basics. I highly recommend this to anyone that wants to to brew great beer whether its the classic styles or not.
Oct 07, 2012 Wes rated it it was amazing

Easily the best, most practical home brewing book I've read. A little technical, so I probably wouldn't recommend it to new brewers. But of you've been making a lot of good beers but are looking to take things to the next level, I can't recommend this book enough.
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