Palmer began writing How to Brew in 1995. The website The Real Beer Page hosted the first edition of the book at howtobrew.com. Palmer self-published a print edition of How to Brew in 2000.
The Third Edition was released in late May 2006.
Next year Palmer co-authored Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew with Jamil Zainasheff. Brewing Classic Styles provides "award winning" recipes for every recognized BJCP category.
Palmer is from Midland, Michigan and attended Michigan Technological University. He graduated with a degree in Metallurgical Engineering in 1987.
John worked in the space program at a failure analysis lab in Irvine, California, and he has helped design, build, and inspect hardware that is currently flying on the International Space Station.