⇒ Use 'beer enhancer' to make better tasting homebrew

What is 'beer enhancer' and will it make my beer taste better?

Using beer enhancer to make better homebrew beer


The thing about beer is that is that there’s so much variety in style and taste but there is one thing they all have in common: 

The so-called ‘mouth feel’ which makes a beer feel like it has 'body'. 

Like how a good pint of Guinness feels. 

Like a creamy but solid breakfast. 

If you simply brewed malt with sugar you will get a beer but your beer’s mouthfeel will be closer to feeling like water. Which is just wrong, as a full-bodied beer enhances the drinking experience!

To get an improved mouthfeel, many beer brewers use an ‘enhancer’ to do exactly what it says it will do – enhance the beer by giving it greater body and mouthfeel.

Beer enhancers are made of basic ingredients, being a mix of fermentable and non-fermentable. They usually contain a mix of dextrose and maltodextrin.

Such beer enhancers work the dextrose serving as the food for the yeast and are thus used in the fermentation process. 

The maltodextrin does not ferment and thus forms part of the beer solution giving the beer mouthfeel and a true sense of body. It also has the benefit of allowing the poured beer to have a good head of foam and to retain it. 

I have no idea how the science of this part works!

The combination of dextrose and maltodextrin suits the lighter style beers such as pilsner, draught, and lagers.

If you are brewing an ale or a beer where you desire a full, maltier flavor an enhancer that also has an element of light dry malt extract will be what you need.


This is often simply referred to as DME.

Some beer enhancers also have hops added to match the kind of beer style so if you are ordering from an online store, check that the particular enhancer's hops matches the kind of beer you are trying to make



'Branded' beer enhancers

coopers diy beer enhancer
The Australian beer making company, Coopers, offer two well-known beer enhancers to help achieve these goals. 


They are simply known as Brew Enhancer 1 and Brew Enhancer 2

What is the difference between enhancer one and two? 

The difference between the two is one suits a lager, the other ales. 

You can imagine the salty old brewer that came up with those very telling names! 

Coopers include the enhancers with their beer kits but you can buy them separately too. I've often seen them in supermarkets for a reasonable price (and reviewed them!) Side note - never do a Coopers Lager Kit without an enhancer, I have and trust me the results are rubbish

The result was the beer having very little body and the flavor could have been stronger. 

Which is what you expect me to report in an article like this eh?

There are some other popular enhancer brands out there too. Muntons, Young's and Copper Tun are well known and trusted by many brewers.

Using spraymalt to add body to beer


You may have also heard the word 'spraymalt'. It can be used as an alternative to standard beer enhancer. 

Spraymalt is a specially prepared kind of DME. Drying is achieved by the use of a spraydrier, a process which produces particularly uniform powders both in terms of particle size and flavor. 

This means a spraymalt beer will be less dry than beers that simply use sugar. Or you can add spraymalt in addition to the sugar for more effect on the taste or your beer.


How to make your own beer enhancer


Of course, you do not need to buy brew enhancer, you can make your own


If you going to make your own enhancer, here’s some ingredient ratios which you could use as a guide: 


Beer style
Dextrose
Maltodextrin
DME
Light Beer
60%
40%
0%
Ale, more malty beer
50%
25%
25%

The quantity to make is is 1Kg per 23 litre brew (which is a standard amount for a fermenter drum).

The beauty of the dextrose is that it is apparently a more favored food of the yeast when compared to ordinary sucrose sugar and so fermentation will commence more quickly. 


Whether that makes a difference, I don't know however using too much sugar gives the beer too much a citrus flavor which can be off-putting.

Many beer supply shops will carry the ingredients you need. That way you can get the advantage of buying in bulk so to reduce your brewing costs.

Adding beer enhancer will likely increase the alcohol production of the yeast as well


When do I add beer enhancer?

When you are preparing your wort - I do it first and then add the malt extract as I think it all dissolves better in that order. You can add your hops at the same time.

Are beer enhancers cost effective per batch brew?


Adding a brew enhancer to your brew does add to the cost per glass somewhat, however, given that enhancers actually really do work (I use them every time I brew), it's my view and that of thousands of other home brewers, that the taste and body improvements are very worth it. 


If your enhancer costs 8 dollars and you make 23 liters, that’s only 35 cents extra per liter. 

Naturally, the mileage may vary depending on what brand and at what price you’ve purchased!

If you’re not interested in making your own enhancer but think brand name enhancers are too expensive, there is a happy medium. 


Many beer shop suppliers will do the mixing for you and sell you a 1Kg bag of no frills beer enhancer.

How to easily bottle home brew beer (and condition it)

how to condition beer bottles

How to bottle and condition your home brew beer 

So once you are sure that fermentation is complete and you've let your beer sit for at least a week after the bubbles have stopped coming through the airlock  (or more properly, taken a gravity reading), then you're ready to bottle your homebrew.

Welcome to the big league boys and girls, you're about to bottle beer!

What you need to bottle your beer
  • Enough bottles. If you have done 23 litres of beer then you would need 30 x 750 ml bottles. 
  • Bottle caps
  • A bottle capper
  • sanitizing agent
  • A big bucket receptacle for soaking bottles in
  • Ordinary sugar
  • Strong hands
What kind of bottles should I use for bottling?

You can use plastic or glass.

I use glass so I can recycle and feel good about saving the planet.

If you hate the planet, you can use plastic.

That said, the beauty of using plastic bottles is that if they over carbonate due to non complete fermentation or excessive priming sugar they will only split and not explode.

If you've ever seen a beer bottle explode spontaneously, you'll know what a damn mess it makes with glass everywhere!

You should also bear in mind that not all glass bottles are intended to be used for home brewing so may not be strong enough for both the fermentation process and the capping process so choose wisely - maybe even practice on the odd bottle to make sure it won't crack when you do the capping.

It's time to sterilise again

Just like you did when you prepared the beer batch, you are going to need to sterilize the beer bottles.

This is because the second round of fermentation is going to occur and again the yeast needs an opportunity do to its fermentation thing, free of microbes.

It's this secondary fermentation that puts the CO2 in your beer.

So get all your bottles in the receptacle that you are going to soak them in. I use a plastic washing basket that's big enough to hold all the bottles I need.

I then get some sodium percarbonate and add it to a cup of boiling water so it dissolves quickly.

I then add it to the basket and then get the garden hose and fill it up to the brim.

You will need to wrangle your bottles as they will try and float. Push them down with your hands and make sure they are all submerged so they all get the sanitizer in them.

They say you only need a minimum of 10 minutes to let them soak but having been burned before with a contaminate getting into my beer, I make sure there's little chance at the bottling stage. I leave them in to soak for a few hours and in direct sunlight if bottle.

As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

That or run them through the dishwasher on a hot setting. That's what I do a lot of these days.

If all that seems just too difficult, you just get a bucket and fill it with your sterilizing powder.

You can then just dunk the bottles in, give them a quick swirl, drain the water back into the bucket. You can get the water out of the bottle quickly by giving it a couple of flicks of the wrist in a circular motion - the water will swirl out rather than 'bubbling out.

Whatever you do, when you're happy, drain your bottles and place them where you wish to do the bottling.

OR, you can simply do what I do is clean them properly once depleted of their delicious contents and check them in a big plastic barrel, cover with a sheet and then fill with beer when your next batch is ready for conditioning...

Filling the beer bottles

There are two ways you can add the sugar to your beer - you can prime the whole batch in one go by siphoning your beer into a second container and add your liquid sugar as you do so or you can add sugar to each bottle individually.

This is our preferred method as in our experience, it's less mucking around, which seems counter-intuitive but there you go.

A benefit of siphoning and then priming the batch is that there will be less sediment in your beer.

No one likes a beer gusher, so that's why I prefer batch priming as there is less chance of me screwing up, provided I do not add to much sugar!

While many beer brewers will suggest that you use a slightly heaped teaspoon of sugar for each bottle. I personally try and do a little less as some of my beers in the past have been over carbonated, due I think to too much sugar.

I like to use a small funnel to add the sugar in - it's quicker and less messy than trying to get the sugar in using just a spoon!

You are then ready to add the beer.

Simply place the bottle under the tap of your drum and you are good to go. Be wary of fast flowing beer.

Fill the bottles at a level that you would normally expect to see for commercial beer. That's about 40 mm from the top. As I understand it, that will assist with optimum secondary fermentation.

If you have a bottling wand, feel free to use it! Place it inside the tap. You'll need to be firm with it and also be aware that they can suddenly fly out with an open tap - meaning you'll lose beer.

So for that reason, I'd never wander away from the drum when there's a bottling valve in play.

It's also capping day!

When you've filled all your bottles it's now time to cap the bottles.

That process should be self-explanatory and relative to the kind of capper you have. The key thing to remember is to check that each cap has made a satisfactory seal.

If you can hear hissing from a bottle, the seal was not done correctly. Remove the cap and try again with a new cap.

I also mark all the seals with a Vivid or Sharpie so that I know what the particular batch is. This is pretty important when you have different batches and different kinds of beers on the go!

You may wish to give the successfully bottles a gentle tip or two to make sure that all the sugar is in the liquid (not stuck on the inside of the beer neck) and has a chance to dissolve.

Bottling beer can be a time consuming exercise so either make sure you can be free from interruptions or you can choose to bottle in small groups e.g. 5- 10 bottles at a time when you have a spare moment. This won't cause any problems.

The best way to store and condition bottled beer

Temperature has a massive effect on beer both in terms of brewing and conditioning.

In terms of bottle conditioning, it's best initially to store your beer in a warm place. This will encourage secondary fermentation (this is sometimes described as bottle conditioning).

The ideal temperature range is between approx 18 - 25°C for 5 to 7 days.

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

You should then leave the beer for a total minimum of three weeks since bottling date before some well-deserved consumption.

This is real, a one week old bottled beer will always taste rank, (no matter how much hops you add).

You should not easily dismiss this advice about the correct temperature for the storage of your beer. I had an experience last year when in the middle of winter I just bottled the beer and left it in the shed for about a month.

When I when to crack open the first beer, there was no fizz, just cold flat beer.

No fizz on the second or third either.

I thought I had ruined my beer somehow. 'Had fermentation actually occurred'? I wondered. Of course, it had. 

The problem was the cold. 

I brought the beers inside and left them in the living room. I waited a week for the yeast to warm up and do its secondary fermentation thing, and boom I had fizzy beer!

Winning, like Mr Sheen.

The longer you wait, the better your beer will be.

Trust me on that. 

Direct sunlight exposure can ruin homebrew


Never store your beer in direct sunlight.

The UV radiation can cause a chemical reaction to occur, making your beer taste awful or be 'skunked'. This particularly occurs for green bottled beer.

Brown bottles not so much.

Either way, you still need to keep your beers at the correct temperature and leaving them in direct sunlight will screw that up. 

Using a dish washing machine to remove beer labels (it's as easy as it sounds)

If there's one thing that's a pain in the ass when bottling beer, it's removing labels from the bottles. 

Some days it feels like some bastard at the local craft brewery has said,

"Hey James let's get the most gnarly and sticky glue ever invented and use it with our bottles. And while we're add it, lets add a second layer of the world's second strongest glue. Just to be sure."

At least that's how it feels.

Now I've bitched about this before but I recently came across the best way to remove labels from beer bottles.

Use the dishwasher to remove sticky beer labels!


Seriously.

Just run them through the hottest cycle in your dishwasher and that glue becomes unstuck.

The labels can then be easily peeled off in one satisfying motion.

Here's the proof.

I have pair of Panhead and Garage Project bottles prior to going into the dishwasher:

removing beer labels from Garage Project bottle

And here's the after photo removal of the Garage Project Bright Side:

peeling off the beer label

removal of whole beer label bright side

And here we have the shot of the Panhead Culture Vulture fresh out of the dishwasher and the too easy removal:

using a dish washer to remove label from beer bottle

removal of beer  label in one piece

So that's that.

Probably the easiest tip you'll come across for when getting your bottles ready for bottling. Remember, you will still need to sanitise your bottles before filling them with glorious beer, unless you are filling straight from the dishwasher.

If there is some residue glue left on the bottle, the best time to get it off is when the dishwasher has just finished its cycle and the glue is still warm. Run the bottle under HOT water and give it a good scrub, that trick usually works wonders. If the glue is cold, it can be a challenging exercise!

How Cryo hops & 'lupulin powder' can replace the need for traditional hop pellets




How lupulin 'Cyro Hops' are changing the beer brewing industry 


The concept of making beer hasn't changed much in several hundred years but the methods recently have. While hops have been used for many a year, one company in America might have found a way for a genuine step change in hop use with their innovation of collecting lupulin powder.

You might already know that lupulin is the part of the hops that brewers utilised to make beers hoppy as that's where the good alpha acids for brewing come from.

using lupulin to make cryo hops
In case you didn't know, the alpha acids are converted into bitter iso-alpha acids during the brewing process, and essential oils and are what give beers their varying hoppy qualities.

YCH Hops, a grower-owned hop supplier based in Washington, America has created a new process where the lupulin is extracted from the hops and is collected in powder form and marketed as Cyro Hops.

You might well ask, what's the point of this?

Efficiency gains in making beer are the short answer.

Beer hops are often made into pellets form for distribution and preservation. The process of making the pellets actually breaks down the acids and oils meaning the effect on the beer requires more hops than one perhaps needs. Enter lupulin powder which has the superior percentage of 'herbs and spices' over hop pellets meaning that less quantity is required.
Ekuanot hops are quite popular

YCH boasts that their product "offers twice the resin content of traditional whole-leaf and hop pellet products" which basically means you only need to use half as much.

YCH Hops initially started to market their powdered 'Cyro Hops' with the brand name "LupuLN2" to commercial brewers in America.  The reviews are in and breweries switching as result.

How is lupulin powder made into cryo hops?


The powder extraction process is simple in concept. The collected hops are subjected to cold temperatures inside a nitrogen atmosphere. This limits any oxidation of the sensitive resins and oils in the hop. The hops are 'chilled and milled' and the lupulin is forced from the lupulin gland.

The little guy has not been forgotten though - a small home brewer, you can buy the powder from Amazon!

How to use Cryo Hops

It's dead simple - you can simply dry hop the Cyro hops as you would with your ordinary pellet hops. You don't even need to make a hop tea!
cascade cryo hops


What variety of cyro hops are there?


YCH Hops have produced Mosaic, Ekuanot, Citra, Simcoe and Cascade versions of LupuLN2. 

The benefits of using Cryo Hops


You can see the appeal for commercial brewers - less volume means better storage and transportation costs.

The other benefit of the powder is that their use in place of traditional hops means less 'green material' is left in the beer, improving clarity by reducing sedimentation and better beer brightness.

You can see why home brewers who don't have commercial means of clearing beer will love using the powder!

I haven't found any information how long the powder can be used before it loses its potency.
Given the apparent early success of lupulin powder with the American brewers that have used it, we expect that its popularity will slowly begin to spread across the Continent and then the rest of brewing communities the world over - provided it's sold at a cost-effective price relative to the economics of using traditional hop pellets it should do well - indeed the prices on Amazon seem pretty fair.

What's the difference between dry malt and liquid malt (extract)?

Is there any difference between liquid malt extract and dry malt?


The short version is there is no massive difference but a key difference is perhaps obviously the water content.


The effect of the difference between LME (syrup) and Dry Malt (sometimes referred to as spray malt) is that due to the different water content, they differ in sugar content.


So, if you are following a beer recipie to the letter, you cannot subsititue LME for Dry Malt if you want to stay true to that recipie.


Unless you apply some maths. 



The keenest beer brewers can use a simple formula to determining the conversion rate from one to the other.


The general ratio for use between the dry and liquid forms of 'malt extract' is thus:


1 pound of dry malt extract equals roughly 1.2 pounds of liquid malt extract. Likewise, 1 pound of liquid malt extract would roughly equal 0.8 pounds of dry malt extract.


However, it is not a case of never the twain shall meet.


If you are happy enough with good enough, you and use LME for DME and Dry Malt Extract for Liquid Malt Extract. 


Your results may vary but if you dose your beer in hops, the average punter will not even notice. 


If you are a new brew, say using extract kits rather than a boil, then you probably don't need to worry too much about what you use. 


It's my view that adding a little something extra to a malt kit will make a better beer and the most common thing to add is a 'beer enhancer' which is usually based on... now wait for it:


Dry Malt Extract.


Here's some pros and cons and tips for using DME or LME:

  • As soon as the DME is exposed to air it begins taking in moisture which in turn causes the powder to clump and become a hassle to work with.
  • This is why some brewers use a whisk to whip the DME into warm water before adding it to the wort.
  • LME is said to have a shelf life of up to two years under ideal conditions (cool, dark and dry)
  • Rember you ratios: 1 kilo or pound of DME will raise your original gravity more than 1 pound or kilo of LME.
  • A handy way to remember the ratio: 4 pounds of dry is 5 pounds of liquid.
  • Some brewers have reported that LME will produce a boilover but DME produces a hell of a boilover...
  • LME tends to wind up darker than DME. For this reason, it's hard to produce a true pale ale using LME alone.
  • DME tends to have a better shelf life without the darkening issues of light malt extract as it has less water.

How to make 'prison hooch' (AKA pruno)

Hooch.

Making an alcoholic brew out of fruit juice is a classic cliche of many a prison movie or television show - but it's based in reality and you can indeed make 'prison hooch' out of fruit juice with a bit of yeast thrown in.

how to make prison hooch

Making alcoholic fruit hooch - Prison Pruno


Did you ever watch the trainwreck of a show that was Orange is the New Black on Netflix? The character Poussey made her prison hooch in a plastic bag using fruit...

Fun fact before we get into it, some elephants have been observed to bury watermelons, come back once they have fermented, and get drunk. So clearly nature intended us all to drink fermented juice at some point...what is wine after all?

Prison 'hooch' has plenty of interesting slang names - toilet wine (because it is hidden in toilet tanks while fermenting) and buck, raisin jack and one form of it called pruno, is extremely popular - it got its name from the use of prunes as the sugar base.

What are the ingredients of prison hooch?


In prison, you're probably going to juice all the fruit you can such as oranges, apples, plums, and apricots. 

Prisoners can't magically get their hands on baker's yeast but they can up their odds by throwing in a couple of pieces of bread (yes, yeast can survive the baking process). 

There can also be natural yeast found on fruit too... it's everywhere in nature!

Extra sugar is very helpful, and prisoners have also been known to throw in packets of tomato sauce, jelly crystals, hard candy, basically any sugar that can be fermented!

In the real world, you can simply add baker's yeast or brewers yeast to a bottle of orange or apple juice, softly cap the lid, and then wait for the yeast to work its magic.

One thing to consider is that some juices contain preservatives that will kill off the yeast. Fresh juices and products that contain sulfur dioxide, benzoate, potassium sorbate, and diethylpyrocarbonate may be fairly difficult to ferment.

If you intend on using pineapple, consider that it contains enzymes that can be hazardous to yeast, though some yeasts are stronger than others and if you are worried about this you can always boil your juice before pitching your yeast.

How to make fruity prison pruno cocktail AKA hooch?


In prison, it's often done with a plastic bag that can be sealed. The fruit is pulped up, bread added, and then sealed. It's then placed somewhere warm, such as a toilet where it can ferment for 5 - 7 days (depending on if the guards find it). Else whatever is available is used - buckets & bottles.

In the real world, you seriously probably just want to make a nice homebrew cider. If you want to give it a crack though, by all means, use the plastic bag but we suggest you simply use bottled juice and you ferment in the bottle itself. 

This will also prevent spills and mess!

If using the bag technique, any vintner will remind you that fermentation produces CO2, so you will need to burb the bag each day to release this gas build-up.

If brewing from a bottle, you can use a balloon  or condom with a small hole pricked in it as a release valve of sorts:

prison hooch with balloon release  blow off valve


What does this homemade cider or orange hooch taste like?


In my personal experience, it will often turn out quite bitter, or tart. 

If you've an iron cast stomach, give it ago. I could only manage half a glass before I mixed a glass with a 50:50 split with a lemonade, so becomes a kind of fruity seltzer.

A hand trick to account for the taste is to add some artificial sweetener or Stevia. 

How long does it take to make 'prison hooch'?


5 - 7 days is a pretty standard length of time but the more time the better. 

Once fermentation is complete, your pruno juice is now ready to drink - you may wish to chill this overnight in a really cold fridge to help let any sediment fall to the bottom of the bottle. In the brewing vernacular, this is called cold crashing.

There's nothing stopping you from using a hydrometer to take a gravity reading - when you have a few daily readings the same, then primary fermentation is complete. 

What is the alcohol content of prison hooch?


Temperature conditions, ingredients, and time of fermentation are some genuine variables that will determine the ABV of pruno or prison hooch can range from as low as 2% to as high as 14% which is similar to strong wine. 

A batch that high will knock you for six, which is exactly what you want it to do in prison right?

That will all depend on how much sugar is available to ferment. It will also be hard to drink. 

orange juice prison hooch

Can you make a prison hooch out of Gatorade sports drink?


I get what you're thinking - if you drink, you get a hangover but if you drink a brew made of Gatorade then the electrolytes will help you wake up as fresh as a daisy!

You actually can ferment such sports drinks but you need to change the game a bit - pitch a high amount of yeast and add additional sugars. I've heard the use of honey can make an OK wine.

Whatever sports drink you choose to use, you should boil it to try and kill any preservatives present,

It's probably not really worth your time...

How safe is prison hooch to drink?


You may have heard the stories from US prisons where prisoners have suffered from botulism which has been attributed to brewing alcohol in prison. If botulism was involved, it would have been caused by unhygienic and un-sanitized conditions, rather than the process itself.

So if you using clean brewing equipment and sanitizing with cleansers like sodium percarbonate, you'll be just fine.

For the record, you can't get methanol poisoning from homebrew either.

Making hooch is a 'cheap' and effective way to make some alchohol. Understand that there's a variety of reasons as to the quality of booze you may make. Rember, results may vary and you make have to experiment somewhat before you settle on the kind of hooch you fancy. 

How temperature plays a role in homebrewing

best - measuring the temperature of beer with a thermometer


Why temperature control is crucial to brewing a good beer

If you know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Beers, you'll know that she eats the bear's porridge and she finds it:

Too hot!

Too cold!

And then just right!

Which is how the temperature of beer works in determining that beer tastes just right. 

A beer that is brewed at too high a temperature may produce unwanted fruity flavours (esters) or excessive diacetyl traits.

In other terms, it comes out like paint thinner -  the beer in my shed recently suffered a mini summer heatwave while wrapped in blankets that left it tasting like turpentine.

I had to dump 23 litres of beer!

Conversely, a beer that's too cold won't even brew at all. And that's just no fun, even for Goldilocks.

So, if you know that the beer you are making needs a certain kind of temperature, how does a brewer work the temperature out?

The classic tool is known as a thermometer.

Easy huh?!

But let's cut to the chase. The Etekcity Lasergrip Laser Infrared Thermoeter is the bees knees and well worth a trial.

Pitching Yeast at the correct temperature so you don't kill yeast


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

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 and begin fermenting. 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.

Hence, brewers should use a thermometer to ensure the correct pitching temperature has been achieved.


The benefits of using a glass thermometer



glass thermometer for home brewing
Many home brewers will be quite familiar with the standard floating glass thermometer that seems to be supplied with some many beer kits (historically at least).

These glass thermometers generally are designed to measure a temperature range of 0-100 Centigrade (32-212 Farenheit). A great benefit of using them is that it is there use is so simple - it can be simply dropped in your pot or mash tun. It will of course float and be able to be read whenever you like.

Another benefit is that glass thermometers are an entirely enclosed system so you should have no issues with their operation and are rarely inaccurate so you can rely on them

Being glass, they are of course susceptible to breakage more easier than some of the heavy duty temperature measuring devices.



Storing beer at the correct temperature


Generally speaking, it's good practice to store your beer in a warm place. This will encourage secondary fermentation (this is sometimes described as bottle conditioning).

The ideal temperature range is between approx 18 - 25°C for 5 to 7 days.

HOWEVER after that period, you should leave them in a much cooler place with a temperature range between approx 8 - 12°C. Three weeks a good length of time at that temperature range before you crack open a bottle.


Behold, the Bi-Metal Dial Thermometer (and how to use one!)


A step up from a floating unit, a bi-metal dial thermometer is a more robust measuring device that will give you a quick reading when checking the temp of the mash tun. They are some times called kettle thermometers.

These dial thermometers are also fairly easy to calibrate and they need to be as they can become inaccurate easily, especially when brewers use them frequently regularly. Dropping them once or twice certainly does not help so their calibration should be checked often.

The use of the bi-metal thermomter is pretty simple - the have a clip that fastens to the tun or kettle. The 9 inch probe they have extends into the wort to take the measurement. 

A good quality dial thermometer will be welded with a stainless steel housing and corrosion resistant to most chemicals. Like this Tel-Tru 42100909 Model from Amazon!

This is why the cooling process can be so important.

Cold Crash and temperature


When cold crashing beer you want the beer to be really cold so the yeast becomes flocculent and falls to the bottom of the beer.

You don't want to freeze your beer but you want it pretty cold so using a thermometer to measure the coldness of your fridge or unit you are doing the crashing in is pretty smart.

The commonly recommended range varies from 33 degrees Fahrenheit to 40 degrees F, with 38 degrees F being a fairly popular temperature point. 40 F is about 4.4. Centigrade.

Just remember a 5% ABV beer can start to freeze at 28F.

Now here's the big daddy of getting a read on temperature:

Using Infrared Digital Thermometers when brewing


An infrared thermometer might be pretty handy to help you take the temperature of your brew. You do not dip the unit in the beer wort you use project a laser at an object (such as beer) and the device then measures the temperature based on the infrared reflection.

So basically to use it you just point and shoot it at the surface of the water and it will give you the surface temperature reading. One reviewer on Amazon noted, "I found it to be quick and accurate for measuring water, the temperature of the pot itself, and external temperatures of fermenters."

So, let me introduce you to the:

infrared scanner to check brew temperatureEtekcity Lasergrip 1080 Non-contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer Temperature Gun


Pew !

Pew !

Pew!

  • It features a versatile design: Infrared Technology makes this thermometer handy to use when cooking and barbequing, performing auto maintenance, doing home repairs, and of course brewing beer. Measure all the from -58℉~1022℉/ -50℃~550℃
  • Better accuracy: the distance to spot ratio is 12: 1, meaning the Laser grip 1080 can accurately measure targets at greater distances compared to most other ir thermometers
  • Target quicker: a built in laser gives you the precision to hone in on the exact space you want to measure. 
  • Added function: the LCD screen is backlit, also has an auto-off function to extend the battery life, and features a low battery indicator so you never accidentally run out of juice (battery included, booya!)
We say the real benefit of using this device is that you don't need to get even close to hot water or wort - you can keep your distance.

I've seen it reported by brewers that when working with an all grain mash tun infrared devices can have some trouble. The foaming and grain on top of the mash tun can interfere with the laser which can give incorrect readings.
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