John Palmer - How To Brew (3rd Edition)

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John Palmer - How To Brew (3rd Edition)

Postby Aleman » Mon Apr 28, 2014 12:32

This review may not be as objective as it should be but here goes.

There is an online version - quite frankly don't bother, it is inaccurate and extremely out of date. Even John Palmer tells people not to bother with it now.

The 3rd edition (printed) is probably one of the better books for beginners looking to get a bit more information on the stuff behind the brewing process. There are quite a few American myths still propagated

Skunking, DMS, Residual Alkalinity, (anything that might include a bit of flavour)

Recipes are included being mainly extract (extract is more easily available and in a variety of flavours in the US), and in US gallons . . . be aware.

It's one of three Palmer books on my book shelf, and is acceptable, just don't treat anything in it as gospel.

please note:The use of punctuation, bold, underlining, italics, and different sized type, follows the convention used in writing, for many years, to place emphasis on the point being made, and to highlight the importance of that point in the opinion of the author. It is not the intention of the author to shout, if that was the case the author would adopt the, much more recent, convention of using all capital letters.
Albert Einstein wrote:Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.
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Re: John Palmer - How To Brew (3rd Edition)

Postby Bribie G » Wed Apr 30, 2014 14:32

Palmer is a wealth of information but getting seriously out of date IMHO.

Extract brewing is really big in the USA for the simple reason that during Prohibition most of the breweries closed down, but some of the larger ones survived by making malted milk, near beer and malt extract. Malt extract was a big earner as it was mainly used for home brewing and bootleg brewing. Most of the underground breweries run by the mob used extract as they weren't in a position to have big malting, mashing and lautering facilities. After Prohibition home brewing really equalled malt extract until the rise of the craft brewing movement, and the mindset persists.

Palmer has some funny ideas, for example that it's impossible to avoid chill haze unless you crash chill the wort. Also oblivious to demonstrably effective new methods of mashing like BIAB.

However very sound advice overall, but I'd question his sequence of presenting the science of brewing. For a newcomer who is looking just to make some beer I would find Palmer intimidating as he plunges you straight into biochemistry with his description of the diastatic process "chopping trees into branches, twigs, leaves" etc. He assumes you can't open a tin of extract without a deep understanding of the Alpha Amylase that helped put it there.

Three stars out of five.
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Re: John Palmer - How To Brew (3rd Edition)

Postby Good Ed » Wed Apr 30, 2014 22:38

I'd agree with the twigs and branches bit, but I find myself referring to it often, so as Tony says don't treat everything as gospel. But lots of charts and nomographs, good section on water (I've yet to get his book Water, part of the Brewing Elements Series), good section on off flavours and quite a few appendices including mash tun design, manifolds and basic fluid dynamics. A good basic book from someone who has contributed a lot to the US home brewing community :thumb:

Here's to the man who drinks strong ale,
and goes to bed quite mellow.
Lives as he ought to live,
and dies a jolly good fellow.
- Old English folk song
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Re: John Palmer - How To Brew (3rd Edition)

Postby Crankwood » Tue May 06, 2014 11:47

There are lots of things which John Palmer has changed his mind on eg he no longer recommends secondary fermentation. More information and ways of working come along and no printed book can ever keep up. Having said that its a great read and lots of the information is great,
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Re: John Palmer - How To Brew (3rd Edition)

Postby brugen » Tue Oct 14, 2014 21:20

Aleman wrote:
There are quite a few American myths still propagated

Skunking, DMS, Residual Alkalinity, (anything that might include a bit of flavour)



Are you saying that skunking doesn't exist or is so rare that as a homebrewer I don't need to worry about it? Are clear bottles just as good as brown?

As a returnee to homebrew after 30 years I found Palmer's book to be excellent.

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