itle

When to use Whirlfloc tablets when brewing

whirlfloc tablets brewing
It's always amused me that people think it is OK to add moss to beer.

I mean really, how the heck can Irish Moss clear beer?

It's not even real moss, it's an algae from the sea!

Which makes m then wonder who the heck discovered that adding Irish Moss as a fining agent for beer?

Anyways, work the moss does.

A popular form of it is the Whirlfloc tablet which is a blend of Irish Moss and purified carrageenan ingredients. Carrageenan is another extract from seaweed that is used for gelling, thickening and stabilizing properties. This is because it bonds to proteins which means it is just perfect for brewing and removing proteins and so-called 'beta-glucans' (sugars) at the end of the boil.

You can use Whirlfloc tablets as a clarifier for both extract and all grain brewing.

Your instructions for use are simple.

If you are doing an all grain boil, you add one tablet per 10 gallons when you have 5 minutes left in your boil. If you add any earlier, the boiling of your wort will destroy the ingredients ruin their effectiveness.

If you are using an extract kit for either beer or cider, you can add the Whirlfloc when fermentation has completed.

If you are wondering whether Whirfloc tablets actually do work, here's an experiment which proves they do improve beer clarity.

There are plenty of other ways to clear beer with finings. There are other fining products such as Chillguard and Polyclar and silica gels like Kieselsol but if you are a bit of an expert, you can actually filter your beer but you'd need to be kegging it. Cold crashing is always a good way to get rid of proteins from beer as well. 

How to easily batch prime your homebrew

how to batch prime homebrew beer

Batch priming your beer with sugar


After about 2 years of brewing beer in my man shed I was getting a little bit tired of dropping sugar all over my workbench as I bottled my beer.

There's nothing more annoying than picking up your hammer to realise it's all sticky. My own bad, of course, I should stop dropping the spoon and spilling sugar.

But also cause ants.

So I decided to do something I'd always thought about doing but never got round too.

I primed my beer batch with sugar.

And what the heck is that?

In short, priming the batch is when one adds the entire amount of sugar needed to the fermenter so that when you fill each bottle, you don't need to add sugar as well, it's already in the beer wort.

So, that sounds simple right?

On face of it, yes, but there are some things to consider!

How much sugar do I need to prime a batch or beer?


Batch priming benefits from some simple calculations that can be made to get that sugar just right.

I usually brew in 23 litre (5 gallon) batches so my focus on my first batch priming was working out how much sugar I needed to use. 

My intention was to use even less than I normally would as I feel I tended to over sugar my bottles which has resulted in my fair share of bottle bombs and even then, just brews which produce too much head (which means waiting time before drinking as the beer then needs to settle).

So first up, different beers need different levels of sugar. Advice from people who have brewed many beers suggests that ales need less sugar than lager style beers.

This is because many drinkers prefer a lager to have more carbonation and ales are quite drinkable with less.

So, here's what may I analysis of beer brewing forums suggests are the common amounts of sugars to use for priming:
  • Dextrose (Corn sugar) 3/4 cup or 4 or 5 oz / 95 grams
  • Cane sugar 2/3 cup or 3.8 - 4.8 oz / 86 grams
  • Dry Malt Extract - 130 grams
Regards the sugar amount, it's my personal experience that using 60  - 70 grams results in less gushers and less fizzy beer.  

I suspect that it might be a case of horses for courses in that some beers do better with more or less sugar, so expect that results may very. That said, I have found 80 grams just perfect for my Irish Miner stouts.

Basically, I'm saying results may vary, experience and personal preference will guide you.

If you are priming with a different volume of beer, I suggest you try this priming calculator.

Some beers go better with different CO2 levels - using a nomograph


I think we mentioned above that some beers just feel better when they have the right amount of carbon dioxide in them.

Too much fizz and that mouth feel doesn't work, too little and that lager might seem flat. 

priming beer nomongraph sugar levels
This nomograph can help you work out how much sugar you need for your particular kind of beer.

The advice on using it is from howtobrew:

"To use the nomograph, draw a line from the temperature of your beer through the volumes of CO2 that you want, to the scale for sugar. The intersection of your line and the sugar scale gives the weight of either corn or cane sugar in ounces to be added to five gallons of beer to achieve the desired carbonation level."

Here is a list of typical volumes of CO2 for various beer styles:
  • British ales 1.5-2.0
  • Porter, Stout 1.7-2.3
  • Belgian ales 1.9-2.4
  • American ales 2.2-2.7
  • European lagers 2.2-2.7
  • Belgian Lambic 2.4-2.8
  • American wheat 2.7-3.3
  • German wheat 3.3-4.5


How to prepare the sugar to add to the batch


There are a couple of ways to do this. 

You could simply add sugar to your fermenter and wait for it to dissolve. It's a pretty simple method but not very efficient and may some time to ensure and even spread.

I suggest you mix some up with hot water in a sterilised pot (maybe even boil it) and let it cool a bit.

You then open up the fermenter and gently stir it in, without disturbing the sediment.

Leave it to sit for 10 - 20 minutes and then begin your normal bottling process. Indeed, you could sanitise your bottles while you wait.

I suspect you could also use icing sugar as well as that's just finely cut up sucrose so it should dissolve easily.

Try not to stir up the sediment.

Using a 'secondary' or bottling bucket


There's a fair argument to be made that when batch priming your beer, using a secondary fermenter or bottling bucket is the way to go.

The concept is that you syphon the beer from the original fermenter into a second vessel.

This way you are able to bottle without disturbing the yeast and other brewing bi-products that have fallen to the bottom of the original fermenter. 

The idea is that this improves beer clarity and further reduces the amount of sediment that will form in the conditioned beer bottles (and on pouring from those, again reduced the chance of sediment going into the beer glass).

If you are siphoning into a secondary, I suggest you have your sugar solution all prepared and in the secondary before you add the beer as this will help ensure the sugar dissolves properly in brew.

This will also help ensure that your batch brewed beer will have a consistent sugar volume and each beer should behave the same - i.e. produce the same amount of fizz and head with each pour.

Don't over prime!

home brew too much sugar explosion
Try to avoid over sugaring beer!

I'm trying to avoid using too much sugar in my beers as I don't want them to be too fizzy or explode in a mess all over the kitchen. So, beer this in mind.

If you add too much sugar, you will cause these problems so we recommend you consider the numbers above.

Priming with other flavours


Dextrose and sucrose do not add any flavours to the beer. They simply are eaten by the yeast and converted into more alcohol and CO2 which goes into the beer.

You can prime with other things such as honey and brown sugar. Some brewers have been known to use brown sugar with stouts. Honey can be used with hefeweizens and blondes. I have found that using too much honey can leave a beer feeling a bit 'dry'.

You could even melt down some jelly beans if you want to give your beer a really sweet flavour!

You can also use molasses. If you're brave...

Remember, temperature can affect CO2 production


Once you have bottled your beer, you need to consider storage temperature. 

It's best to initially store your beer in a warm place. 

This will encourage secondary fermentation to commence (this is sometimes described as bottle conditioning). The ideal temperature range is between approx 18 - 25°C for 5 to 7 days. 

After that period, you should leave them in a much cooler place with a temperature range between approx 8 - 12°C. 


And then as per standard conditioning practice, we recommend waiting three weeks before having a wee sample.

Can you use dextrose instead of sugar for priming?


Corn sugar and dextrose are the same thing! Dextrose is actually the most popular priming sugar, so feel free to use it with your priming.

Success!


Very happy to report the ale I primed is very drinkable, with no bottle bombs occurring and a very consistent level of bubbles! 

Best brewing thermostats for temperature control

Once a brewer has mastered the process of all grain brewing they often start to wonder about the other factors that make a good beer.

Most brewers of any experience know how important temperature to making a good beer is but it's the keenest brewer that wants to regulate the temperate that their beer ferments and conditions.

Keeping a beer consistently at the desired temperature is a boon for beer quality as this allows the yeast to perform to it's best characteristics. This is because, generally speaking, ales and lagers perform better at different temperatures (lagers lower than ales) and also because brewing conditions have often meant that beer is brewed too warm.

Hence, the experienced brewer will often elect to use a brewing thermostat to maintain the correct temperature for the yeast strain. The most popular choices are from the Inkbird range and devices which use the STC-1000 software such as the Ketotek and Elitech.

There's many an argument out there that making yourself a controlled fermentation chamber is one of the best things you can do for your beer, over and above using fancy (though vital) wort chillers and the like.

What then, is a controlled fermentation chamber?


Basically, it's a fridge of which you control the temperature.

Here's a common scenario for lagering at a consistent temperature.

By using an external overriding thermostat installed on a fridge (or even a freezer) you control the temp as you need and prevent the fridge from making your beer to cold, thus hindering fermentation from occurring. It means you can lager your beer all year around!

The beauty of this is, you can simply use an old fridge - cold is cold so you don't need to splurge out on a big showroom deal, as long as it works and there's room in which to place your fermenter or carboy, you are good to go. If your fridge has it's own thermostat, then set it to the coldest setting.

Old fridges are probably less energy efficient than newer ones, the choice is, of course, yours to make.

If you are using a freezer, you'll want to make sure that it is ice / frost free.

Using the probe correctly


Your thermostat will come with a probe - this is placed inside the fridge so the sensor reads the temperature inside the fridge. Obvious right? OR you could tape the probe to the fermenter so as to get a close reading of the beer's actual temperature, rather than the ambient temperature of the beer. 

Why would you do this? 

In the long run, the temperature of the beer will probably equal that of the fridge, however, given you want the yeast to have the best environment to ferment, it will get to the desired temperature quicker. 

Here's a handy trick - if the probe is waterproof, you could consider placing it in water inside the fridge. The water will approximate the beer's temperature reading meaning you can mix and match and move fermenters in an out as you need. 

Cold crashing 


When fermentation is complete and you are ready to bottle or keg, you can of course cold crash with the fridge or freezer and you can use the controller to keep the temperature low as use need.

How to set up a thermostat controller for a fridge or freezer


It's a fairly simple system to set up - place the fridge's power cord plug into the controller. Place the probe inside the fridge. Now, having selected your desired temperature to match your beer's yeast recommendations, you set the temperature controller to that temperature.

The controller will control the internal temperature of the fridge by turning the fridge itself on and off as conditions change. The fridge itself will, of course, need to be set to be able to go as cold as you need.

I do wonder how good it is for the fridge to be regularly turned off and off - if you are concerned about this, go with the old fridge.

Using the thermostat to control a heating space


Thermostats are just as handy for heating your beer as well and again you can use a fridge or a specifically designed heating box.

Obviously, you need a heating source and your fridge most definitely must be turned off! A popular choice for a heat source is a heating pad or a heating belt. Some dudes use lightbulbs!

 Simply plug your heating source into the controller and place the sensor probe in the fridge as you would with when using trying to keep your beer cold. Select the desired temperature on your thermostat and you're ready to go.

Your chosen heating device will turn on when the temperature of your heating space falls below the selected temperature.

The fridge freezer trap


Don't get caught out by using a fridge freezer combo. If you want to keep your meat and veges frozen, you won't be able to as the freezer will be subject to the whims of the controller.

Pssst, do you want a unit that can control both cooling and heating?

Sure you do and the Elitech STC-1000 might just be the kind of controller you are looking for. 

elictech stc-1000 controller

The Elitech branded version of the STC model has the following features:
  • Temperature calibration; Refrigerating control output delay protection.
  • Auto switch between refrigerating and heating, with a return difference value.
  • Control temperature by setting the temperature setting value and the difference value.
  • Alarm activates when the temperature exceeds temperature limit or if there is sensor error.
  • Accuracy: ±1°C (-50~70°C)
  • 110 volt
Note the Elitech comes with the centigrade measurement. If you are looking to use use a thermostat with a Fahrenheit measurement then bird's the word for the Inkbird range.

Search on Amazon for an STC-1000 controller and you might pause when you see there are all kinds of brands that offer the STC-1000. So what is it? It's actually the name of the software that runs these units. The software is open source so the firmware of your unit should be able to be easily updated.

Units which use the STC-1000 can be fiddly to set up, especially if they need wiring. This bloke has some great tips on successful installations.

Inkbird Pre-Wired Dual Stage Digital Temperature Controller


Probably Inkbird's most popular controller is the ITC-308. This unit is fairly cheap, easy to install and is tried and true for keeping your beer fermenting at the desired temperature.

  • Simple to use: plug it in, set the temp ranges, place the probe, plug in the heater/cooler into the marked outlet.
  • Easy to read manual
  • Be able to connect with refrigeration and heating equipment at the same time.
  • Easily calibrated with the press of a few buttons
  • Can display the temperature on in Centigrade or Fahrenheit.
  • Versatile enough for many different uses. Whether you need temperature control for fermentation, humidity control, greenhouse, kombucha control or to set up your temperature project system, the ITC-308 temperature controller is a great choice.
Check out this review from real users who brought the Inkbird on Amazon:

"I ordered this for my fermentation chamber I just built and so far this thing is pretty great. It keeps the temps within about a degree of my target temp and was pretty simple to set up. I presume the instructions have been improved as they weren't as difficult as some reviews had stated. If you are electrically inept such as me and just want to get your system up and running this will do the job extremely well for the price."

"This seems to be working great for a chest freezer converted to a fermenting chamber. Literally set this up in about 5 minutes, it's that easy. Put the temp probe in the freezer. Plug the freezer into the cooling plug, and plug the Inkbird unit into the electrical outlet. Works exactly as described. My Oktoberfest lager beer is bubbling quite happily at 52°F."

inkbird dual plug system"What can I say, this is the best value out there! excellent range of temps, very customizable and accurate, lets me stay within a degree. I use this for fermentation control and the price allows a practical solution. Very durable and the prob and cord are waterproof. I poked a hole in the carboy stopper and forced this prob and a small length of the cord through and now it hovers in the middle of the carboy for the most accurate control of temps. Highly recommend for beer brewers!

So there you have it, some genuinely pleased users of the Inkbird  plug and play temperature controller. Check out the prices on Amazon

Can I cold crash outside, in the cold, in winter?

cold crashing beer outside

Cold crashing.

It's a great way to make your beer to stand to attention and free itself of the particles that make your beer cloudy.

Many brewers cold crash in a fridge for a day or three.

But what if you have no beer fridge but only the cold?

Can you cold crash outside, overnight if it's cold?


Well, yes you can but your results may vary.

Generally speaking, cold crashing can take up to 24 - 48 hours to be effective to precipitate out the unwanted proteins so one night in the cold of winter might only get you 12 hours (say 7 pm - 7am) but that's assuming New Zealand conditions.

If you're in America, Canada or the Baltic states or the like, it's damn cold with all that snow so yes, you can cold crash outside for a couple of days and the job will be done but as we said, results may vary.

You may want to crash at night and then place the fermenter somewhere out of the sunlight during the day and then have another crack the second night. Be careful to not disturb the trub too much as you are trying to clear the beer, not stir everything up.

Can it be too cold to crash outside?


The colder the better and it will help precipitate out more yeast, however, you don't want to freeze your beer as that's kind of a disastrous result. So, if you are confident the overnight temperature won't go below freezing point (32F or 0C),  you should be OK. 

The amount of alcohol in your beer will play a factor as well - higher strength ABV beers can resist colder temps a little more but it's not necessary for cold crashing.

Can I just leave my beer in the shed for a week?


You sure can. Brewing is a timing game, so giving your beer an extra week in a cold shed will help lager it and let the yeast do its job. 

Remember you can also add finings shortly before bottling to help clear your beer.

↠ Apera PH60F pH Pocket Tester for brewing

Apera Instruments AI312 PH60F Premium pH Pocket Tester


If you are looking for a quality, yet reasonably priced, ph Meter for testing your beer's water and wort, you might want to consider the Apera Instruments PC60 Multi-parameter Tester.

The PC60 meter tests for pH, EC, TDS, salinity and temperature in an accurate, quick and reliable manner for most regular water solutions so much so that it's used across a range of commercial and hobby ventures such as hydroponics, aquaculture, pools and spas, water treatment, cooling towers and of course beer making.

The multi-parameter probe is replaceable and equipped with Apera's 'Brush-Resistant Platinum Black' sensor, which ensures an accurate and reliable EC measurement in a wide range. 

As for all pH metersprobes must be properly cleaned and maintained or else they can dry out, won't work, or perhaps even worse, give incorrect readings.

This handy unit boasts the following features:
  1. Easy-to-install and replaceable flat sensor 
  2. Triple-Junction structure prevents clogging, works great for regular pH measurement 
  3. Easy Auto Calibration with auto buffer recognition 
  4. Auto Temperature Compensation 
  5. Unique High/Low Value HEADS-UP function, instantly reminding you of any results that need your attention with a red backlight; 
  6. Auto recognition of stable values (with optional AUTO HOLD function) 
  7. Large, clear Liquid Crystal Display with 3 backlit color (indicating 3 different modes) 
  8. Display both temp and pH simultaneously 
  9. Also comes with calibration buffer solutions, calibration bottles, storage solutions 
apera ph meter reviewThe instrument has an easy menu setting, which means you can customize your tester’s functions according to your needs. 

It's waterproof and dustproof and it floats on water so you don’t have to worry if it falls into water or your beer by accident. 

If you purchase the tester from Amazon, you'll find a complete kit of premixed calibration solutions (4.00 and 7.00), soaking solutions (3M KCL), calibration bottles and of course enough AAA batteries to give you approximately 2000 hours of use.

A handy lanyard is included and everything mentioned fits in the portable carrying case which protects your gear when travelling or simply storing.


Here are some reviews from real users who have real experiences with Apera's tester.

"Having previous experience with scientific research grade pH meters, I've maintained this pen in electrode storage solution between uses, and always rinsed the electrode with deionized water between measurement and before storage. With those precautions, both the pH and EC readings have remained on-point without recalibrating for more than a month at this point. When I do check the calibration, the instrument is never more than 0.05pH off-target."

"The back-lit display is excellent for working under low-light (tap the power button once while the unit is on to activate), and the instrument fits perfectly into the top of 1-gallon water jugs. A note of warning, make sure the EC electrodes are not submerged in the electrode storage solution while not in use, only the glass pH bulb should be in the solution."

"The Apera PC60 instrument is super easy to use. It comes with everything needed to calibrate and feel confident in your readings. I even tested it against a 1000 TDS calibration solution I had and it read great! The display is easy to use and the backlight is very handy. I love that the "cap" is built in a way to put your liquid in, with a fill line, and closes securely around the pen. It then is able to calculate the different levels in the liquid. I no longer have to bend over and hold my pen in the nutrient reservoirs. One of the best features is the ability to set the TDS factor. This is important because PPM is calculated differently in different parts of the world. It gets very confusing."

"After having gone through 3 different cheap meters last year I decided to spend a little extra on this one. I am not disappointed. It's well worth the money. It's fast, accurate and covers a range of tests. I read the previous reviews and was somewhat sceptical. However, after using this product for a few weeks on a daily basis, I would recommend it to anyone. The LCD screen is a little small but I can read it without glasses. I found the instructions to be thorough and fairly well written. I think they must have updated their manual after previous reviews. I have backups just in case but after the first week, it became obvious I wasn't going to need them. By far the best meter I have used without spending a couple of hundred dollars."

If you think those reviews sound fair, check out the price on Amazon.

How to calibrate the Apera pocket tester


Check out this video guide from Apera which shows how to calibrate Apera devices:


  • If it is the first time use or the tester hasn't been used for a long time, soak the probe in the 3M KCl solution for 15 to 60 minutes (the longer the better) to restore the probe's sensitivity and accuracy. In order to achieve maximum performance, soak it for around twelve hours. That means do it the day before you need to use it!
  • When not in use, soaking in the storage solution is recommended, but not necessary. 
  • For pH calibration, 1st point calibration must be 7.00 pH
  • For EC/TDS/Salinity's calibration, just dip the probes into accordant standard calibration solutions and follow the same steps in pH calibration. 
  • 10.01 pH buffer solution is not included in the kit, this needs to be purchased individually.
  • Try to avoid these common calibration mistakes


What's the warranty for the Apera? 


If purchased by the manufacturer, the meter is CE certified and comes with a 2-year Warranty period and 6 months for the probe. The company has designed and manufactured scientific analytical instruments like meters and sensors for pH, conductivity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen for over 25 years, and meets ISO 9001:2008 Standards so they know how to make these units work, and work well.

Dowload the instruction manual here.

↠ When choosing a brewing spoon, go stainless steel

I never thought I'd write about brewing spoons.

Like why would you need a special spoon to brew with?

Can't you just use the wooden spoon you have from the kitchen?

Well, for one thing, wooden spoons can harbour a boatload of nasty germs that may infect your beer.

But why if you live in the modern age can't you use plastic spoons?

Well, the truth is, yes you can use any damn well spoon you like, but a quality stainless steal beer spoon as some advantages over wood and plastic.

For a start, they are the right size! Have you ever just used a shitty stirring spoon from the kitchen drawer and it just doesn't stir well because once you've added the malt and the beer enhancer, you have to reach inside the fermenter and it's just one big mess?

A proper beer brewing spoon is the right size and if it's made of steel, it's easy to clean and there will be a strongly reduced chance of it harbouring bacteria over wooden and plastic spoons. This is because those spoons get scratches in which the bugs like to make a home.

But back to size, if you are doing all grain brewing, you're probably going to be using a kettle right?

A beer brewing spoon is designed especially for fitting in kettles as they usually feature a long handle and a hook for simple storage.

These spoons can also do double duty as a basting tool which may come in handy for those that like to fry turkeys using their million BTU rated gas burners!

Here's a very popular brewing spoon that has a pretty hand rating on Amazon:

brewing spoon
This 21" rugged, stainless steel spoon is great for stirring a mash. Its corrugated design prevents bending (which happens to cheap spoons and plastic paddles!).

If you ever wondered if a spoon needed a review, these actual users have found good things to say about this one! 

"This is a restaurant utensil. It's sturdy enough and long enough to reach from the bottom to about an inch over the top of a stainless steel turkey fryer pot for stirring homebrew wort."

"Won't hold bacteria like the wooden ones. It's my go-to spoon for mixing wort and keeping it from burning on the bottom of the kettle. I actually leave it in the boil to stay sanitized, and it stays cool enough to handle because it is so long."

"Well made spoon. Much better choice than the plastic paddle I've been using."

If you think this is the spoon for you, check out the price on Amazon

What about using wooden spoons for brewing?


You will probably never be able to fully sanitize a wood spoon because they can be so porous. While a good soak in some PBW or sodium percarbonate could be useful, a good long turn in a dishwasher on the highest setting is probably just an easier move to try and get it clean.

The history of using wood in brewing is actually quite amusing - monks and Vikings would use wooden sticks to stir their brews and kept using the same ones over and over. While they were ignorant of what yeast was, their stirring sticks retain the yeast which was imparted into the beer everytime it was us

You'll be fine using a wooden spoon if you are stirring it to stir your mash as the wort is to be boiled and that will kill any microbes that managed to transfer from spoon to wort.

So we are probably overthinking things in this regard!

Mash paddles and dough balls


Mash paddles help keep the grain from forming dough balls.

By using a well-designed spoon or paddle on your mash, you will keep the grain from forming the dreaded 'dough ball'.

No one wants a dough ball to form in the mash because it reduces the efficiency of the mash. Effectively the hot water (liqueur) is not interacting with the grains in the dough, meaning less wort is made. Which is not the point of the exercise.

To avoid dough balls forming, you should ensure that you correctly mill your grains - the finer you do them, the more chance a ball will form as the grains get sticky and can form a paste in effect.

You can also perhaps consider using rice husks in your mash, as this can help with the sparge

A good paddle will have a hook / curved end which can be used to easily hang it when brewing.

How to pitch yeast correctly into your beer wort

adding yeast to the beer wort

How to pitch yeast into your homebrew beer


Newbie beer makers may have heard the expression “pitch your yeast” and wondered what the heck it meant.

I myself was horribly concerned that I had missed a trick when making my first brew after learning this phrase.

Had I missed out a step?

Had I ruined my beer?

Nope, of course not.

Pitching yeast’ is just homebrewer lingo for adding yeast to the wort.

Without yeast, your wort will not turn into beer. The yeast, is an active living organism that feeds on the oxygen and sugars in the wort and as a bi-product produces carbon dioxide and the sought after alcohol.

Yeast is a sensitive cell based life form and needs the correct conditions in which to thrive and help make really good beer.

That’s why pitching your yeast is more than simply adding it to your beer – it needs to be done at the correct time in the brew so that it can activate properly.

The short version is if you pitch your yeast when your brew is too hot (say you’ve just boiled it), you will kill the yeast with the heat and fermentation will not occur. Which would be a waste of time and money.

This is why the cooling process can be so important.

That said, pitching yeast too cold means the yeast won't start its job.

Your fermenter might have a temperature gauge on the side, else you might need to get your hands on a thermometer.

I’ve noticed that some brewers can be super sensitive about yeast and the preparation and pitching of it. There are arguments about the best method but the casual home brewer should not get caught up too much in it.

If you follow some good beer making instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems with the yeast.


The easy way to pitch your yeast is 'dry pitching'


If you are like me, once you have prepared the wort your the 30 litre drum, you are ready to add your dried yeast. The easy way is to simply open up the packet that came from the beer kit, and drop it into your wort. I like to cut the packet open so that the yeast cells and efficiently exit the packet. I also like to give it a shake to pack the yeast on one side and cut on that side.

When you do this, you are pitching your yeast 'dry'.

Maybe give it a gentle stir with a clean spoon. Close off your fermenter securely and place your beer in a good spot for a week or two to let the yeast do its job.

Of course, make sure the temperature is OK. It probably is but check anyway.

If you want to give the yeast the best chance to do their job really well:

Re-hydrate your yeast before you pitch it


A handy method that many earnest brewers follow is to hydrate the dry yeast in water before pitching. The reasoning behind this is that it gives the yeast a good chance to get started properly.
Rehydrating yeast in a glass

The theory is that there can be a concentration of sugars in the wort which means it is difficult for the yeast to absorb water into its membranes so that they can begin to activate/metabolize and thus commence the fermentation process.

Based on that, I imagine that if you have made a high gravity wort that's full of sugar and fermentables for the yeast to eat, hydration is a good step to take.

In my experience I’ve never had the yeast fail with a simple beer kit but if you are keen to cut the potential problem out, feel free to re-hydrate your yeast.

Do this by boiling some water and letting it cool. You can then add your yeast packet (or two!) to the water and let it begin to absorb – you shouldn’t do this too far apart from when it is time to pitch the yeast.

Cover and leave for about 15 minutes and then inspect. It should have begun to smell like you are making bread and 'bubbled' a bit (see the above picture). If so, it’s ready to be pitched.

Once you've added the yeast to the wort, there will likely be some left in the glass - I have a 'waste not want not' kind of view so I add some water to the glass, give it a swirl and add it to the yeast as well.

If there is no churning or foaming or sourdough or bread like smells, it could be your yeast has died from old age or environmental damage such as being left in the sun. You may need to use a new packet of yeast...


How many packets of yeast should I use?


Generally speaking, brewers will use one packet of yeast however if you a trying to make a very high alcohol beer where the yeast is expected to do a lot of work, you might want to consider using two packets.

You may want to use two packets if your yeast is fairly old as the older it is, the less potency the yeast will have as the yeast cells will have slowly died off over time.

The 'denser' or thicker your wort, the more yeast you will need.

There's also a difference when making an ale or lager. Yeast becomes slow to ferment when it’s cold. Given lager ferments at a much lower temperature than ale, it's reasonable then to use more yeast with the lager to finish the job properly.

Some brewers use the rule of thumb to pitch about twice as much yeast for a lager as for an ale.

Using liquid yeast


If you intend to use a liquid yeast it should really be pitched to a starter wort before THEN pitching to the main wort in the fermenter. Here's a handy guide to making the starter from one of the true industry legends, John Palmer. 

That said, many liquid yeasts can simply be pitched as normal so check the instructions that come with your unit.


What are some good yeasts to brew with?


If you do not wish to use the yeast that comes with the beer kit you have, you could try what a gabillion brewers use, the American ale yeast, Safale -05. I've used it personally and it goes great guns, and is tried and true. The Safale - 04 is a handy English ale yeast too.

A quick summary of pitching yeast 


  • Pitching yeast is simply adding it to the beer wort
  • Add it when your wort is the recommended temperature – check your beer kit’s recommended temperature
  • You can pitch dry yeast straight into the wort
  • Or you can add it to water just prior to pitching
  • Dry yeasts have a longer storage life than liquid yeasts. 
  • Liquid yeasts must be stored by refrigeration means.
  • The older the yeast, the more of it you will need to use. 
Extra for experts: should you use a ph Meter?

Image credit to Justin Knabb via Creative Commons Licence