How to Brew, 4th ed., by John J. Palmer (2017)

How to Brew, 4th ed., by John J. PalmerWowzers! This is a massive resource for anyone interested in brewing their own beer, whether novice or expert. This is the fourth edition, updated and revised to include coverage of the many improvements in brewing technology and techniques in the past decade since the last edition was published. In the preface, author Palmer notes when the book was first published in 2001, people entered the field in hopes of brewing better beer than what could be found on store shelves. Since then, of course, craft brewing has exploded, and you can find tasty beer on shelves and in pubs. So why brew then? For the sheer love of creating a great beer, natch! Palmer makes sure you understand every step of the process, giving you greater skill in creating tasty and rewarding brews. My review is based on a digital copy of the new print edition, and I’m amazed at how extensive and well constructed (intellectually) this is. There are some 25 chapters, nearly 10 appendices, an exhaustive index and even a bibliography in the unlikely event readers want more information. The Table of Contents is 12 pages long! Holy heck this is a resource. As the book is nearly 600 pages, Palmer understands new brewer impatience and offers an all-important first chapter offering the basics for brewing your first batch once the kit is home!! Then he launches into the detail that will make your brewing results the toast of the neighbourhood. The first section is on Brewing Beer Kits, and is a natural starting point, covering sanitation, the science of malt and barley, using extracts, hops, and grains. There is a chapter on yeasts and one on water, and a chapter on bottling and kegging. As the reader develops a greater understanding of brewing science, we start learning about how to create different kinds of beer, and Palmer wraps up Section I with chapters on lagers, strong beers, sour beers, and even a chapter on brewing with fruits, vegetables, and spices (raspberry ales – yum!). In Section II, kits are abandoned in favour of All-Grain Brewing, and we delve into malted barley and brew mashes in great detail, ensuring you are ready to consider making stouts and pilsners. The final section offers the experienced and confident brewer recipes for all the best beer styles, from amber ales to bock beers, and guidance in how to start experimenting with your own recipes. The final chapter is on troubleshooting, helping brewers pinpoint what might be causing a funky fermentation smell, problems with carbonation, or a soapy flavour, to name just a few issues. This is the kind of reference book that will be consulted over and over again. If you have any interest in brewing beer, this is the authoritative resource. Most impressive. My thanks to Brewers Publications for the advance reading copy provided in exchange for my honest review.
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