In many ways, John Palmer began my obsession with beer. When I first started homebrewing with my brother in our mother’s basement, it was his book, How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Beer Right the First Time, that was our bible. I also had a copy of Homebrewing for Dummies, which was more than adequate, but it was Palmer’s book that I kept coming back to. And now, after over a decade, it’s getting an update.
He blended the scientific with the practical. Instead of just following directions blindly — like how I still cook to this day — he let you know why you were doing what you were doing. And when curiosity got the better of you, the appendices were where the nerds lived.
I still have my dog-eared version from 2006. It walks the beginners through their first extract batch up and the experienced through their first all-grain batch. I bought the book shortly after the release of its third edition, and its worth noting that back then the internet was different, and in many ways a published books held a special place of authority for a burgeoning hobbyist. Now things are a bit different — Palmer actually has most of book available for free online — but it’s still massive news that the fourth edition of his book, the first update in over a decade, is now available to order here. It’s been 11 years, and the whole industry, including Palmer, has refined itself in that time.
The whole has been updated to reflect the best of his current knowledge, with new chapters covering malting and brewing, strong beers, fruit beers, sour beers, and adjusting water for style. Without reservation, I recommend it as the best book for beginner or advanced homebrewers.