Book Review: How to Brew

John Palmers How To Brewlink is considered to be todays standard book for new brewers.  This is due to two factors – How To Brew is excellently written and is a great guide for beginner brewers. But even better, Mr Palmer has put the first (1999) edition on a webpage, for free.

How To Brew (free version)
Extract-Based Recipes: 4/5
All-Grain Recipes: 3/5
Beginner Brewing Methods: 4/5
Advanced Brewing Methods: 3/5
Other Features: 3/5
Overall: 3.4/5
How To Brew (3rd Edition)
Extract-Based Recipes: 4/5
All-Grain Recipes: 4/5
Beginner Brewing Methods: 5/5
Advanced Brewing Methods: 4/5
Other Features: 4/5
Overall: 4.2/5

The biggest difference between the free and 3rd edition is the up-to-datedness of the recipes and methods. The 3rd edition was printed in 2006, about the time most of our modern methods became cemented int place. In contrast, the free version is somewhat out of date – the all-grain recipes in particular often rely on mash schedules orientated towards the poorly modified grains common in the 1990’s rather than the better-modified malts of today.

The recipes in this book (especially the 3rd edition) are really good, with all grain and extract-based versions of most recipes provided. The basic brewing methods are covered excellently in both books, while the 3rd edition does a reasonable job of explaining advanced methods.

Overall, this is a must-have for new brewers. Old-timers will find this book largely superfluous, as anyone reasonably comfortable with all-grain brewing will be familiar with most of what is covered in this book.

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