Review of “How To Brew” by John Palmer -Intro
Posted on April 28, 2010 by mike
I have been listening to the Brew Strong show produced by the Brewing Network a lot as of late. One of the hosts, John Palmer, talks about his book on the show and all the people around him mention how good it is. So I suppose the marketing idea behind doing the shows wore off on me and I recently got my hands on a copy of “How To Brew” by John Palmer through amazon.com. I’ve been told that this is the “homebrewing bible” and that anyone of any skill level should have this book on hand. As a new homebrewer, I really eat up this information and I like to look at how people describe the process for beginners and I eventually have plans to move to all grain in the next few years, so what the heck, I finally cracked it open the other night and started.
The book is a bit thick, but that only means there is an opportunity for a lot of good, or a lot of bad information inside of it. Initially thumbing through “How To Brew” by John Palmer I found that the book is organized really well with a lot of topics, covered in their entirety. I like that the book starts with extract and moves on to all-grain. I feel this is the more common and natural progression that most people take in their brewing careers, so it makes sense to split it up that way in a book.
Reading the introduction was quite interesting because the book started out as an electronic 11 page document for beginning homebrewers in 1993, which was then posted to forums and bulletin boards. I myself am currently working on something similar for beginning homebrewers. So I was instantly laughing at the commonalities that I share with Palmer.
About the Author
From what I understand of John Palmer he is a wealth of knowledge. His knowledge isn’t just experience of brewing beer though. The guy is knows so much about the science behind brewing that it is a bit freaky. For example, he can tell you everything you want to know about the different metals that you can get in a brew pot… He can recite all of the different sugars that make up your wort and how each temperature will affect how well those sugars are broken down. I could go on and on, but the moral is, he is a damn scientist brewer.
I appreciate that because I can see myself being the same way. However, I could very well see this book getting to technical. I find that a lot of brewing information out there is technical. And to be frank, it bores me to read it. I’d like to see it spiced up! So, we’ll see how this book presents its data and information once we get into it a bit more.
The “Crash Course”
After reading the “crash course” section of the book I’ve come to realize that the book reads pretty easily, but I yearn for some color pictures and for it to not have so many pages that are just walls of text. I feel the crash course was a decent read to get an overall view of the brewing process, but I think a lot of information was left out and, in fact, wasn’t specific enough. I understand that is what a “crash course” is intended to be, but the brewing process isn’t something I think you can really do a crash course on and have it be successful. The reader might as well get a kit and use that as a crash course instead of buying the book to tell them that general information.
However, looking ahead at what I’ll be reading, the value in this book will be coming in the later, more in depth sections on yeast, malts, and the “Is My Beer Ruined” section. I look forward to reading the rest of this book over the course of the next couple to few weeks and writing up a full review on it for you guys. In the mean time, if your interested, I’d just pick up a copy of “How To Brew” by John Palmer or read the free version of it online at How To Brew.
Since writing this I finished the book. The full review of “How to Brew” by John Palmer can be found here.