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4.8 out of 5 stars75
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on 21 June 2008
For the technical side of brewing this book covers what you need to know! I also have the "complete joy of homebrewing" which is also a great book and lot of fun to read, but to be honest it is not as up to date as this book. I recommend this book together with "designing great beer" - with this set you'll be able to brew the most common types of beer with very good results.
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on 9 January 2012
This is a very comprehensive book, with a mine of information about home brewing. It is written in an engaging style, which makes it easy and interesting reading.

The main criticism that I have relates to the fact that it is aimed exclusively at American readers. British readers need to be aware that a US gallon is significantly less than an imperial gallon - or alternatively stick to the metric units only. Also, some of the ingredients (particularly hop varieties) are very hard or impossible to come by in the UK.

I appreciate that this is hardly the author's fault, as he may not have been aware that his book would sell abroad. It would be nice if an international edition of this excellent book could be published.
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on 10 October 2009
I've had access to the on-line version of this book before, and since I've evolved to a more-than-occasional brewer I sort of felt obliged to buy the book that learned me so much about one of my favorite drinks.

At first, I only used the book to get down to the practical side of brewing beer. I feel that if you follow the author's advice and if you can just bring yourself to be patient, things can't go wrong, not even if you want to go through the whole brewing process instead of just starting from a malt extract. The book does what it promises in the subtitle.

But this book also contains detailed explanations about all the processes involved in brewing, so that you understand about the chemics involved. This might seem a bit boring at times, but it helps you to understand where you can tune the process and how you can create your own beer style. This understanding is exactly what you need after you've tried brewing a couple of times, it worked, and now you want to try something different.
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on 18 March 2009
This book really is the beer homebrewers bible but the sheer volume of complex (to a new person) information could scare off.
Suggest don't buy the book quite yet - just buy a brewkit with the money instead, get the bug to take it to "real" brewing and THEN buy this book!
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on 24 October 2007
The title really does say it all with this book!

I've been brewing for a few years now, and upon getting this book my beers have leapt forward from being usually OK (but still very obviously homebrewed), to being beers that I would be happy to receive in a pub or beer festival...honestly!

This book contains just about everything you could need for any stage in your brewing life. Everything from the beginner's standard 'can and kilo' brews, right up to full grain and everything in between.

Ingredients, methodology, techniques, equipment, recipes - its all here.

(My only slight criticism is that it is doesn't contain details on 'kegging' your beer, but this is really fairly simple and info can be easily found online for this if you wish.)

Basically this is the only beer homebrew book you will need - I highly recommend it!
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on 12 November 2009
After having previously purchased Brew Your Own British Real Ale (Camra) which was a great book for novice to intermediate brewers I wanted to know more about the actual brewing process and the chemistry involved in each of the ingredients. This book is the only reference guide you will ever need as it goes into great depth to cover all aspects of brewing. The book is written by a US author and as such in places it can be slightly slanted to US style beers but on the whole the techniques are fairly generic and very easy to understand. The chapters start off with the basics and end with more information that you'll ever need to complete your brews, including a handy troubleshooting guide to assess why your beer didn't quite turn out as you expected!
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on 10 June 2012
If you're a beginner or even an experienced homebrewer then seriously if there's one book you should get, it's this one. 'Palmer' is often refereed to as the 'Brewer's Bible' and is definitely the most commonly quoted texts on forums. The fact is this text has been written over years by someone who really knows his stuff, starting out as a free document and the first edition is still available in its entirety on Palmer's website free of charge. This is NOT a commercial book thrown together to make money. The great thing about this is you can 'try before you buy', but the updated 3rd edition is definitely worth paying for if you want to take the hobby a bit further than the 'kit and a kilo' kits you start out with.

Palmer knows his subject and it definitely shows: He really addresses pretty much every question a beginner (or I for one, at least) could raise in each section from "what's different between lagers and ales", to little points like "do I have to sterilise dry hops?" up to graphs telling you how many yeast cells you should aim to pitch, water ion concentrations and all sorts!

I only have a few negative points to make. Whilst the text does have a crash-course section and walks you through each step, I think it's fair to say readers will definitely benefit from a degree of knowledge in the subject. The book definitely errs towards providing content for the hobbyist rather than the novice, and you'll still be referring to it years after your first batch as you step into all-grain and enter competitions, etc. Because the book is useful for beginners and advanced brewers alike it takes some knowledge to know what is relevant to your level and what isn't. Otherwise beginners may find themselves swamped with the information intended for all-grain brewers and not extract brewers, or doing a boil for pre-hopped extract, doing a starter for dry yeast etc. etc. For this reason I'd recommend the book to someone who knows they want to advance the hobby, rather than as a gift for someone who's never tried it.
This leads on to my second criticism. Because the book is aimed at all levels of brewer, it has a slightly confusing layout. Don't get me wrong: It goes from extract, to partial to full mash as you'd expect. But reading from cover-to-cover, I am finding that I will be overwhelmed by advanced information on water alkalinity one chapter, then turn the page and arrive at "brewing your first extract beer". Whilst you'll definitely want to read the book in its entirety, I think it is ultimately designed to be a reference document, suited to looking up specific subjects when you need to. Again, try to enter with enough knowledge to know what applies to you and what doesn't if you're a novice.

One final point: As of 2013 the 3rd edition is lacking a few more recent methods in brewing. There's been a movement, especially in Australia, towards simplified techniques such as "brew in a bag" and "no chill". In this respect, How to Brew shows its age a little; giving the impression you can't conduct a mash without first converting a cooler with a false bottom. The fact that partial/mini mash only gets a side-note also emphasises that Palmer is a little guilty of making mashing/all-grain seem more complicated than it actually is. But this is a minor point and may well get addressed in a fourth edition.

Those points aside, I'm finding it a fascinating read and really can't recommend this book enough to anyone inclined to learn more about the hobby. Even with the free copy online, it's a small price to pay for such a wealth of information.
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on 26 September 2010
This book is an excellent reference item for anyone engaged in home brewing or looking to get started. technique and tips are all backed up with the science behind brewing. As such it helps to further the reader's understanding of what is a very large and complex subject.

For non-American home brewers: Do not be put off by the references to American beers and brewing. Whilst alot of the book is targeted to the American style of brewing and Malt Extract brewing, there is a vast amount of useful information here that is applicable to all styles of brewing.

A must have for the home brewer's library.
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on 3 January 2012
I've been brewing for the last 20 years and made some great beers in that time, but I've also made some that were not so great. This book changed all that. It made me take a step back in my hobby, re-think a given procedure and polish my act to the point that I now can brew beers that are on par, if not better, than those offered from the top shelf, consistently. Mr Palmer makes it easy for the non-brewer to get started from the offset and for the more advanced, points to practices that we could adopt to better advantage. It does not cater for kegging, but this is a minor issue as there are so many ways to keg and force carbonate lagers/beers. The science sections are very in-depth and are explained well in a language that the non-chemists among us can understand...

I also bought Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles and am now creating clones of some of the worlds great beers. Bear in mind that this book does not teach home brewing to the novice, it works in tandem to the above enabling you to make your own recipes and replicate any beer on the shelf once you have learned to recognise a certain beers characteristics...

With these 2 books, you should be able to create top notch beverages, everytime...
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on 13 August 2010
If you read this and listen to the Brewing Network podcasts the only way you can make anything other than excellent beer is to not do as they tell you! Yes it's American but metric units are included and I've had no trouble brewing to that. Also contrary to popular belief, perpetuated by the awful American beer sold in this country, the US is now home to the best beers in the world, so trust an American author on this subject. If you weren't aware of this you'll find plenty of British and European styles to brew in this book. Also it'll open your eyes to fermentation temperatures, proper liquid yeast and yeast pitching rates which really go together to make a beer better than you can buy. Go into most "old-boy" home brew shops here and ask for liquid yeast or a yeast starter flask and you'll get a blank look; this is why homebrew has such a poor reputation here. Luckily some of the better shops and internet suppliers are getting with it so everything in this book is available to the UK homebrewer. Buy it!
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