An Interview with Bangor Brewfest Keynote speaker John Palmer

This evening I had the opportunity to speak with John Palmer, author of the popular homebrewing book “How to Brew” on the telephone. John will be the keynote speaker at the Bangor Brewfest this Saturday, August 10th. John will be speaking about homebrewing and there will be a Q&A section led by myself and Zeth Lundy of Central Street Farmhouse. The VIP ticket holders will be able to join John in a guided tasting with 7-8 of the participating breweries. John will also have a booth at the festival and will be signing copies of his book.

Here is my Q&A with John

Have you ever been to Bangor, Maine?

Yes, back in the early 80’s I was there with my family for a camping trip.

What made you decide to write “How to Brew”?

I’m an engineer by trade and brewing process appealed to me from the engineer’s point of view.  So I started writing down instructions from an engineer’s point of view and they said “you should write a book”, so I did.

The first edition of the book was and still is available free online, why did you go this route instead of print right up front?

It seemed the least complicated at the time, publishing seemed too hard. Self-publishing seemed hard, having to learn the layout software, so I thought at the time it seemed difficult but then my wife told me to go ahead and do it. The other reason, I wanted the information to be out there for people to use it, and the internet was pretty new then and it seemed like a good application so people could access it and talk about it.

The book is now in its 3rd edition in print; did you ever expect it to become so popular?

No I didn’t, certainly I hoped it’d become popular and hoped to become a recognized name in homebrewing, it has far exceeded my expectations, I’ve been very fortunate.

You co-wrote “Brewing classic styles: 80 Award winning recipes anyone can brew” with Jamil Zainascheff, What’s your favorite Style or recipe to brew?

Got a lot of favorites actually, I guess my favorite one in there is the West Coast blaster, it’s American amber ale but it’s bitter and hoppy, like a dark IPA but not a Black IPA.

It’s my understanding you’ve helped design and build hardware for the international space station; it wasn’t homebrew equipment was it?

No, I was part of the structure team; I helped build some structure sections and the airlock.

As an engineer, what’s the coolest piece of homebrew equipment you’ve built?

Several years ago I build a RIM’s system, RIMS is a Recirculating Infusion Mash System. Its gas fired with a temperature controller and a thermo coupler that measure the heat of the wort leaving the mash tun. It pumps the wort from below the false bottom back over the grain bed which allows for a more uniform mash temperature.


I’d like to thank John Palmer for taking some time out to speak with me and I encourage anyone who is a homebrewer or interested in taking it up to visit , I’m sure you’ll find yourself buying a copy of John’s book to have in your homebrew kit, it’s very informative and approachable. If you are attending the Bangor Brewfest this Saturday, stop by and say hi to John at his booth and get your book signed. If you have any questions you’d like asked at the Q&A feel free to send me an Email at  and I’ll try to get them answered for you.



Chad Lothian

About Chad Lothian

Chad Lothian lives in Old Town, Maine. He is a craft beer enthusiast and homebrewer. Chad has travelled to brewpubs, breweries and brewfests all over New England.