How To Brew is a classic brewing book that many of us used to get started.
Covering everything from planning recipes to cleaning, it’s an essential addition to your library.
I’ve intended to review this book for a while, but didn’t want to jump the gun. As a beginner brewer I only used a small portion of the content so I’ve waited until I had more experience.
Which is now!
As it says on the front, the book covers pretty much every aspect of home brewing.
John Palmer went for the kitchen sink approach to book writing and included detailed descriptions of everything, right up to an analysis of the various metals used to manufacture equipment.
Although at first glance this may seem over the top for beginners, once you learn your way around there’re plenty of tit bits that help you start and then improve your brewing.
Conveniently the first chapter runs you through brew day, before getting anywhere near an explanation of the science of brewing.
This means you can successfully brew a beer before worrying about technical problems.
Although in this way the book is accessible for beginners, Palmer doesn’t shy away from complicated topics. After this introduction he covers in scientific detail many of the processes and reactions that allow beer to be made.
This extract gives you an insight into his philosophy:
To learn to brew beer, you don’t need to learn how the yeast metabolise the malt sugars, but you do need to understand that eating sugar is what they do, and you need to understand what they need from you to get the job done. Once you understand that, you can do your part, they can do theirs, and good beer will happen.
How To Brew includes most brewing techniques, from beer kit to extract to all grain. Unfortunately, there’s no mention of brew in a bag but most of the all grain information applies.
Palmer’s style is fresh and jovial. The wealth of information means it’s not a book to read from cover to cover (in one sitting), but rather for dipping into when necessary.
I’ve found that it stands the test of time well. Whenever I have a new brewing problem or question, there’s usually information in How To Brew that can help.