How do 'oxygen absorption' bottle caps work?

bottle caps that absorb oxygen

Dedicated brewers will know that beer exposure to oxygen should only occur before fermentation and not after


It's the same with food - oxygen will damage food so that's why many foods are packaged in plastic with 'oxygen scavaging' features - look at potato chips, the bags they come in are filled with nitrogen!

So if you are trying to minimize the amount of oxygen in your bottled beer, mead or wine, you may want to consider using oxygen absorbing caps.


The bottling process can add unwanted oxygen into the beer.

To remediate this you can do things like being careful with your pouring into the bottle and using a bottling wand.

If you want to do more than that, the bottle caps can help remove the oxygen that sits above the surface of the beer and between the bottle cap.

If you are looking to cellar or age your beer, these caps could help you achieve your goal.

Do oxygen bottle caps really work?


Now, let's take a skeptical view of this concept first. Do you really need to remove oxygen from the beer bottle?

If you have bottle conditioned a 1000 beers and never had a problem, do you even need to use these crowns?

They can if you are intending to age beers or extend the hoppiness of your beer.

The loss of hops aroma can be one of the first signs of oxidation.

In addition, the compounds extracted from hops will can with oxygen, which forms inert compounds that have less aroma and thus a reduction in hop flavor.

Bottle caps which 'scavenge' oxygen from the beer will help prevent or delay this reaction from occurring.

If the food production and beer brewing industries spending millions of dollars doing it, then it surely works.

If you intend to drink your beers quickly, you may not need them.

How do oxygen absorption caps work?


Oxygen-absorbing caps have an internal liner that once activated by water, will absorb oxygen in the headspace of the bottle.

Oxygen absorbing technology is based on oxidation or a combination of one of the following components: iron powder, ascorbic acid, photosensitive polymers, and helpful enzymes.

Glucose oxidase is an enzyme that is popular in the elimination of O2 from bottled beer or wine.

The question you need to ask yourself is to what degree do they work and how much of an effect will thye have on your beer. Some brewers think they are only good enough to give worrisome brewers piece of mind!  Given they are only a few cents more per cap, this can make it worth it. 

How do you use oxygen absorbing caps?


These caps activate once you get them wet. So once they are capped on, you can invert the beer to wet the inside of the cap and they will stand ready to begin absorbing oxygen. This process starts a day or two after they first get wet. For clarity, store your brew normally after the inversion.

Many suppliers recommend to not wet or sanitize caps in advance of your bottling session or they will not work correctly. They’ll still close the bottle off from the air like any other cap, but the oxygen-absorbing function will be used up. 

This does mean you can sanitize them just prior to use. 

But that might lead you to ask:

Do I need to sanitize oxygen absorbing caps?


This author personally no longer sanitizes beer caps. They come out of their bag clean and frankly after 1000s of beers bottled without them, I've never had a problem. 

That said, if it is your standard practice to sanitize caps, then a quick dunk in some Star San is just fine, as long as you do it just prior to bottling and not well in advance. This is because the wetness activates the liner of the cap.

But frankly we've given up sanitizing beer caps and we've never had any issues - they are kept well clean in bags prior to use.

The choice as the brewer, is always yours!

Check out the range and price on Amazon

⇒ 'PBW cleaner' (and why you should use it)

PBW for cleaning homebrew equipment
PBW cleans beer equipment very well

PBW stands for Powdered Brewery Wash


PBW cleaning product by Five Star is widely used in commercial breweries but countless homebrewers across the country have cottoned on to how they can use it for cleaning their own brewing equipment.

It was originally used by the Coors brewery!

PBW is a trusted brand among most North American homebrewing communities.

If you are looking for some guidance on how to clean your brewing equipment, they will probably recommend you use this powdered wash.

It really is an amazing cleaner for beer brewing equipment.


Don't believe me and you think I'll say anything to make a sale?

Go to any beer brewing forum and you will find season beer makers raving about this product. Go on, Google it now and you'll quickly find we are not exaggerating about how good this cleaning product is.


The benefits of using PBW are many:

  • If you've ever used a 5 gallon stainless steel boil pot after homebrewing sessions you'll know how crusty the remnants on the bottom of the pot can be. A quick round with PBW will sort them out easily. All you have to do when cleaning with hot water, add just a little bit of PBW, mix it up, and let it sit in the pot. All of that burned-on garbage comes right off. Ideally, a good burner will not cause this problem!
  • Stainless steel never looked so clean after an overnight soak!
  • PBW is environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and will not harm septic systems
  • You can also clean your dishwasher with it! In fact, you can clean any stainless steel utensils and equipment with it - that's why it's so versatile as a cleaner for home brewers
  • If you need to remove an odour that is coming from some organic substance PBW will remove the substance and the accompanying odour. So it's great for cleaning up old brewing equipment that might need a bit of love before it's used again
  • Doesn't burn skin as other chemical agents can (like say Sodium Hydroxide) or create a strong pungent smell like other heavy duty cleaners
  • It's pretty handy to remove labels from beer bottles after a good soak.

But wait, that's not all!

PBW has plenty of uses that might not seem so obvious for home brewing


Say you've been a little bit lazy and you haven't cleaned your beer bottles and the sediment has dried out at the bottom of the bottle.

Have you ever tried getting that crap out?

It's a real bitch to do, trust me. 

Why waste time with a bottle brush that just can't reach everywhere when you can soak all your bottles in Powdered Brewery Wash.

It's also handy for removing pesky labels from beer bottles that you want to use for homebrew. Give them a good soak and those labels will come off in no time. 

You can also clean your carboy or fermentor too! And we all know how easy is to think, heck, I've bottled my beer, I'll clean the fermenter next weekend...

That weekend becomes a month and suddenly all the brewing scum is as impenetrable as Fort Knox.

A soak with PBW will sort that for you.

Odds are, if you let that fermenter soak overnight in the solution, you won't need to do any scrubbing, simply rinse it off with the hose and you'll be sweet. 

It's really easy to use PBW! 


The cleaner instructions are simple. It's just three easy steps:
  1. It's best used to soak your brewing gear overnight to easily remove stubborn, caked on organic deposits without scrubbing.
  2. Use 1 - 2 ounces per gallon for cleaning boil kettles, or an ounce per gallon for fermenters, kegs, carboys and other brewing equipment. 
  3. A quick rinse in the morning and you are ready to get brewing again!

So what do other users say about this cleaning agent?


The average review for PBW by Amazon reviewers is 5 out of 5. That's 100 percent of reviewers believing this cleaning agent does the business, and that's what you want. You don't want to muck around, you just want clean and sanitized beer equipment!

Powdered Brewery Wash is not a sanitizer!


Let's get this super clear.

PBW is for washing and cleaning your brewing equipment.

It will not necessarily kill the bugs that might linger, for which you need a good santizer.

Before brewing, and after ensuring you have clean gear, you must sterilize the fermenter and any gear you are using including any spoons, funnels or other utensils. 

Many home brewers often use Star San. Like PBW, Star San is highly rated in the home brewing beer community as a sanitization agent. A great thing about is that it is a no rinse agent. You spray or briefly soak your gear with it and you are good to go. Star San is very well priced on Amazon.

What are the active ingredients found in PBW?


The main ingredient is about 30% Sodium Metasilicate. Its chemical formula is Na2SiO3 and it's what kicks grease and beer smegma to the curb. If you want to be brave and buy the main ingredient in bulk, there's plenty of value on offer on Amazon.

Another key component is sodium percarbonate. Don't get confused with sodium bicarbonate which is used for things like baking and cleaning! The percarbonate is a really excellent cleaner of beer gear, and we use it often. 

Want to know a secret about percarbonate?

It's laundry soaker.

That's right, the powder you use to get your whites whiter and brights brighter is sodium percarbonate!

So if you want a cheaper substitute for PBW, you could use the second active ingredient in it and simply go into your laundry and grab the soak.

Napisan, Oxiclean and many of those common and generic household brands have percarbonate in them.

To be fair though, the percarbonate is probably best for sanitizing whereas the metasilicate is the stronger cleaner.

Combining them meanings you get the effect of PBW - so if you are looking to make a DIY PBW substitute cleaner then use this combo of TSP/90 (AKA Red Devil) and Oxyclean in a ratio of 30% TSP/90 and 70% Oxiclean.

PBW is great for soaking kettles and pots

Did you forget to clean out the trub from your brewing kettle?

Maybe you got a bit carried away on the sampling of your wares... if the trub is now rock hard and caked on, a bit of PBW in water will work magic on the kettle.

Let it have a good soak, and you should then be able to remove the gunk very easily. A hose can work wonders here.

If you've been a bit negligent with your kettle cleaning duty, PBW will deal with any beerstone that's occurring inside the drum. If you don't know what beerstone is, it's the build-up of calcium oxalate and water salt.

This build-up can affect the performance of your kettle over time, so if it's any every so often soak with PBW, you'll be maintaining your kettle.

A note on beerstone, other acid based products arguably can do a better job.

Other uses for Five Star PBW


You can use it to clean your dishwasher or washing machine. Give it a round with nothing in it and a hot wash. You'll clear out the grime and get rid of some funky smells.

Given it cuts through grease extremely well, you can use a solution on a rag to clean all the surfaces in your kitchen > stove tops, fridges etc.

Barkeeper's Friend is probably better placed as a cleaner though. 

So, I'm convinced, where can I buy this wonder cleaner?


It's very reasonably priced on Amazon!

↦ Using calibration buffer solutions to calibrate a pH meter

using ph buffer solutions

How to calibrate a pH meter using a buffer solution

While beer making is a bit of a science, taking the pH level of your beer or water is like some kind of advanced astrophysics lesson because it seems so complicated, what with all the calculations and formula.

Some guy called Nernst apparently had a lot to do with it.

While a pH reading can be complicated because a serious brewer needs to properly calibrate their pH meter - the actual 'maths' involved is straightforward - especially when a proper reading is taken which then means the brewer can make an informed judgment call about how their beer is going.

And to calibrate your meter, you need calibration or buffer solution.

What is a calibration buffer solution?


A calibration or buffer solution is a chemical solution that is used to calibrate a pH meter.

A buffer solution is one which resists changes in pH when small amounts of acid or alkali are mixed with the buffer. Acidic buffer solutions are commonly made from a weak acid and one of its salts - often a sodium salt.

The buffer is used to develop a calibration curve. This a scientific method for determining the concentration of a substance in an unknown sample by comparing the unknown to a set of standard samples of known concentration

In the case of calibrating a pH meter, at least three 'standards' are needed.

Without the standardized pH buffer to calibrate the meter, the results will not be accurate and thus give you the wrong impression.

pH meters tend 'drift away' from their calibrated settings, it's just their nature due to the way science works!

It is thus very important to calibrate your pH meter often so that the accuracy of your results is maintained.

Devices other than pH meters need calibration with a solution too, such as refractometers and conductivity meters.

What are standard buffer solutions?


The definition is that standard pH calibration solutions should have an accuracy of +/- 0.01 pH at 25°C (77°F) and come usually in seven different pH values from 1.68 to 10.01.

The most popular and commonly used buffers are (4.01, 7.01, and 10.01). Good brands are dyed different colors so they can be easily identified by the brewer and thus used in the correct order.

Standard buffer solutions can be used to calibrate almost any common pH meter so you don't need to fall into the trap of say, for example, using a Hanna brand buffer for a Hanna meter.

The Milwaukee MW102 is pretty popular too! And let's not get started on how big a seller the Apera is!

This does mean that you can look at price and value per mls when deciding what brand to use.

There are two other kinds of calibration standards - Technical and Millesimal

Technical solutions come with a certificate of analysis (COA) which affirms that the solution will absolutely perform to the standard as described.

Millesimal calibration solutions are used in labs where accuracy down to three decimal places is required, think along the lines of municipal drinking water plants, and medical research facilities where readings can be absolutely crucial to good human health outcomes!

Homebrewers generally just stick with standard calibration solutions which they often order online from Amazon.

Why you need to use fresh calibration solution for pH testing


Brewers and testers should always use fresh calibration solution when calibrating one's pH tester electrode. 

All pH measurements are based on the pH calibration solution as a reference point so the solution needs to be pure and not contaminated. 

Think of this like contact lens solution, when it gets old, you don't use it to clean your lenses, you bin it and go with a fresh batch.

It's generally recommended then that opened bottles of buffer solution should be dispensed with after they have been opened for 6 months. The higher the buffer's pH ( from  > 7 ), the quicker it will degrade.

If you are calibrating fairly infrequently, you may wish to consider using single-use solution sachets rather than bottled.

using buffer solution to calibrate ph meter

How do I use a calibration solution?


Your meter's pH electrode should ideally be cleaned in purified water before placing it in your pH calibration buffer. This reduces the chance of contaminating the solution

A good practice is to be to use two beakers/containers for each calibration buffer that you will use.

Your method would be to clean the pH electrode with purified water then rinse the probe in one of the beakers with the buffer then place the probe in the second beaker with buffer.

Repeat this practice for multiple calibration points.

For best results, the user must ensure the pH probe has been cleaned and that it is rinsed with clean water between calibration solutions to reduce contamination of the pH solutions.

Here's a handy video guide on how to use your meter with the buffer:



If your solutions are clear, make sure you mark them out before you begin calibrating! You could leave the bottle or sachet close to the beaker as a reference. 

To obtain a correct pH calibration reading, the unit's accuracy is very dependent on the accuracy and age of the calibration solutions used, and the condition and cleanliness of the pH probe tip. You will get a calibration error if the unit is not properly maintained as per the instruction manual.

Never reuse calibration solution


Once you have calibrated your device and then tested beer wort, you should dispose of the reference calibration solution.

Given it has been exposed to the environment and has had equipment placed in it, there's a fair risk of contamination - so adding that to your original sample can risk ruining all your fluid!

The same applies to reusing the test sample at a later date. Just don't chance it.

Check out these common ph testing mistakes for other ways to avoiding screwing up. 

Making homemade calibration solutions


While some brewers can try to make their own DIY solutions to save money, the results prove to be homemade buffers that are not accurate or stable. This is a wasted effort as the buffer can be guaranteed to interfere with the accuracy of the test results.

Thus, we don't recommend you try to make your own! Check out the options available on Amazon.

How to properly use oak wood chips for home brewing


Using oak wood chips to age and flavor beer


Aging beer in oak barrels is long-standing practice for making beer.

This is because the characteristics of the wood impart to the beer which can add to the drinkability of the beer. Which a reason why wine tastes so good too!

There's a reason why brewers seek out new ways to make beer taste better and that's because, for them, the old days of getting smashed on Budweiser are over.

They constantly want to experiment, try new ideas and just make better beers.

Using wood while conditioning or aging beer can impart a range of aromas to the beer, including floral, vanilla, caramel, or coconut tones.

While it depends on the type of wood as to what happens, oak is generally the preferred kind of wood as it produces the desired vanilla notes

All that might sound like some kind of fancy wine snob speaking at a tasting session, but that vanilla thing is true!

I don't have any spare oak barrels lying around to use, so how can a small-time home brewer use wood to improve their brewing results?



That's the short of it.

You can use oak wood chips by simply adding them to the wort. 

However, it's not that simple.

There are some choices to make as to how you oak your beer and for how long and for what kind of beer. 

Let's explore the ins and outs of oaking homebrew. 

First of all, we should consider this question:

What kind of beer suits wood chips?


You can oak any beer you like but through the experiences of many other pioneering brewers, it has been generally settled that English and some Scotch ales such as Old Ales, stouts, porters, browns, IPAs, and some bitters benefit from going through this process.

That's not a finite grouping of beers though.

Brewers have been known to successfully use oak in styles such as the darker Belgian ales, Farmhouse Ale, or even Saison.

And let's be frank, some of the current generations of craft brewers are trying all kinds of combos and methods to make their mark on the world, so backyard brewers should explore and experiment as much as they dare!

There's also the theory the higher the ABV, the better result oaking will produce


This working theory is usually in reference to beers that are being aged in wooden oak barrels. It is considered that the alcohol serves to ensure a healthy environment in which the beer ages, free of those pesky bugs that can infect and ruin a beer.

If you are going to invest time and money in a barrel, you don't want to wait six months or a year to find your beer has gone off!   

High alcohol beers are also often sweet so an oaky vanilla tone can help counter or balance that. 

What is the best kind of wood chip to use with the wort?


Not all oak chips are created equal.

Oak usually comes in three varieties, American, Hungarian, and French.

The American oak gives the strongest oak flavor, while French oak gives subtler notes with other sweeter flavors like vanilla.

Hungarian oak is considered in the middle between these two extremes.

There use depends on what types of beers you are making and what you’re going for with them.

One more thing about the kind of wood - charring. When oaks barrels are used for making bourbon the inside is charred as strangely this helps with aging. 

Different amounts of charring will have different effects on your beer. The more charred or burnt your wood is, the more strong the flavors and smells that are imparted into the beer. 



Should I use wood chips or cubes or spirals?


Instead of using an actual oak barrel or the staves of one, these three options are handy methods for a homebrewer to add wood flavor and aroma to ‘barrel age’ their beer. We prefer chips over cubes as you get more surface area exposure.

Your local homebrew store may have all three readily available on hand but Amazon will see you right too.

Using oak chips 


Wood chips are essentially shards of wood that you add to your fermenter or secondary in order to achieve the level of barrel flavor you desire. Chips offer a greater surface area that's exposed to the beer than cubes.

Wood chips are probably going to float and that means a lot of oak will be making contact with the air in the fermenter and not imparting oaky goodness into the beer.

So a handy tip is to place the chips into a clean and sterile hop bag and then weigh the bag down with something heavy and inert such as a glass marble or three.

Make sure the marbles are sterilized!

It's a really good idea to do this as picking stray oak chips out of your tubing or bottling wand will be a pain in the ass.

Using wood cubes


Wood cubes are exactly as they sound - they are cubes of wood (approximately ¼-½”in size).

They will sink to the bottom of your fermenter, won't get stuck in your tubing and many brewers prefer to use cubes over chips because the amount of surface area to beer ratio is easier to determine on a cube than a chip.

Not that it's really a big deal.

Using spirals


Spirals are also a great way to get a high surface to beer wort ratio happening.  If you are looking for a hassle-free clean up, then like cubes, oak spirals could be what you want to use for your beer.

They are more expensive than chips however due to the time required to manufacture them than compared to putting some oak logs through a chipper!

Do I need to sterilize my wood chips ?


All brewers fear introducing anything into their brew but there are a few things you will most definitely need to consider doing to ensure the health of your brew.

Here’s a summary of different approaches for adding bits of wood to the beer:
  • The 'do nothing' approach, just pitch your chips in and see what happens.
  • Boil the chips in water to make a tea, then add the tea to the wort (just like you would a hops tea).  You could use your propane gas burner if it's handy.
  • Soak the chips in a spirit like rum or vodka for at least a day, and add it all to the beer. The strong alcohol content in the booze will kill off any microbes present in the wood. 
  • Use a pressure cooker to cook them.
  • Sanitize wood with chemicals such as campden tablet solution (we don't recommend this method as you'd likely be transferring the solution you made (potassium metabisulfite) into your wort as the wood absorbs it. That said, campden tablets are great for removing chlorine from your beer. 

How much oak chips should I add to my wort?


The amount of chips to use is not an exact science. I've seen recommendations that range from 10-60 grams per 5 gallons.

Remember this is largely to taste - especially if you are using the tea making method.

We would, however, recommend you start light and add more as you get more experienced and learn the effect of whatever form of oak you are using.

How long should I soak oak chips in bourbon before using?


You could be forgiven for wondering why the spirit of bourbon is suddenly being mentioned.

Brewers have discovered that if you are going to age beer in oak barrels, then those that have been previously used to age bourbon do a wonderful job.

The idea then is that if you soak your oak wood chips in bourbon, you're going to somewhat re-create or imitate the effect of a good old fashion barrel soak.

We'd recommend that you soak your chips in bourbon for at the very least 24 hours but we have read online that some brewers wait as long as four weeks!

As we noted above spirits in general also help kill any bugs that could be present in the wood chips so using a good bourbon will ensure you do not accidentally infect your beer. You good just drop them in some boiling water too.

You can probably do the same trick with sherry or any similar spirit. Cognac?

I've never done it but you could potentially skip the oak and just add bourbon to your brew directly!

You'd have to experiment a bit so maybe split your wort into a few small units, or add a small amount in the first instance and build to taste.

Making an oak tea


There are a few ways to add the oak flavor to your beer and making an oak tea is an easy way.

Simply boil the oak chips and make sure they are covered in an inch of water.

Once the tea is made, add a bit of the water to your beer in the fermenter and then taste it. Continue to add the oak tea until you reach the flavor you’re looking for.

Making a tea is much faster than aging with oak, and also lets you more closely control the flavor.

The boiled tea will also be sterile and don't confuse it for some medicinal brew!

Speaking of tea - did you know you can make hops tea for brewing?

How long do I leave the wood chips in the fermenter?


Chips impart flavor pretty quickly, and usually, 7-10 days in the fermenter is about as long many brewers go before the effect on the beer becomes overpowering.

Taste tests along the way will help as it all comes down to a matter of taste! 

If you've put your chips or cubes in a bag, they'll be easy to remove with a clean pair of tongs.

Just like a good cook doesn't over-egg the pudding, the discerning home brewer should not over oak the beer. Too much oak doesn’t allow for complex flavors to emerge in your brew before an overwhelming wood flavor takes over the batch.

So, timings wise, if you know you are going to bottle your beer within the week, then add the chips seven days before you intend to bottle. You'll be seeing 'red' if you add too much!

How can I tell the difference between an oaked an unoaked beer?


Generally comparing beer that has been oaked to one that hasn’t will show subtle variations.

A beer that has been properly oaked beer will often have what can be described as having a smooth backbone and aftertaste.

If the oak has been toasted/charred just right, you might get some of those vanilla notes we mentioned above.

Can you re-use oak chips?


The question is can one re-use the wood chips? Can I just dry them out and store them until the next time?

We've read that beer makers often just leave them to sit on a paper towel to dry, then place into storage in something like a mason jar.

Make sure they are thoroughly dry though as any moisture could help microbes or mold etc thrive.

We imagine that the more you re-use chips, the qualities they possess will reduce. 

I found this totally pro tip which I'll share as found:

"I keep a 1.75 LT bottle of Jim Beam half full of bourbon and the rest with medium toast French oak chips so they are always soaking up that great flavor to add to bourbon stouts. The chips pick up a lot of the great bourbon flavor and stay sanitized due to the high alcohol."

So for that brewer, they don't really care about how long they soak their chips in bourbon!

Check the price ranges on Amazon.

Best yeast energizer for beer brewing

best yeast energizer stalled fermentation

How to fix a stalled fermentation with Yeast Energizer


Yeast is the 'live' part of part of beer.

It's a living organism and just like your friends, you gotta treat them right. If the yeast is going to turn your wort's sugars into alcohol, it's going to need a nice home where it feels comfortable.

If you think your yeast might need a helping hand either at the beginning of fermentation or due to a stalled fermentation then a 'yeast energizer' might just be the extra ingredient you'll need to add to your brew day shopping list.

What are yeast energizers and why use them?


At it's most basic description, a yeast energizer serves two purposes - they are used to stimulate or restart a stalled fermentation.

The effect they have is that they can help with more efficient fermentation which means a faster time to the completion of fermentation and also improve the chances of an improved final gravity - that is to say, increase the alcohol content of your batch. 

Yeast energizers have also been demonstrated to also help reduce fusel alcohol and hydrogen sulfide production. 

Fusel alcohols are the alcohols responsible for the 'burning sensation' and can contribute to hangovers. 

H2S will impart a sulfur smell (rotten eggs) and bad taste. 

These two problems may be caused by when the yeast is stressed (such as by having too many sugars in the wort or the temperature is too hot

Yeast energizer also works well in meads and honey brews to help speed fermentation. It will also help cider batches to get to that dry state quicker!

Generally speaking, you'll probably only need to add an energizer if your yeast will face very high sugar worts. 

Does 'yeast energizer' affect beer taste?


There is a bit of debate amongst brewers about the effect an energizer can have on taste. It seems to be fairly negligible if there is one. 

We believe there are more overriding factors in the brewing process (such as the number of hops used and grain profile) that affect the taste, so we wouldn't factor in 'taste effect' as part of your decision making process on whether to add yeast energizer (and you don't really have a choice of your fermentation has stalled!).

What are the ingredients of yeast energizers?


Energizers are usually found to be composed of:

Is an energizer the same as yeast nutrient?


A yeast nutrient is somewhat different from an energizer. Yeast nutrients can be considered to be the "vitamins and minerals" to help yeast grow and ferment. Yeast energizer is like a catalyst to kick start a stuck fermentation back into gear.

How much yeast energizer should I add to my beer wort?


Use approx 1/4 teaspoon per gallon in beer to revive a slow or stuck fermentation.

When to add yeast energizer?


At the beginning of the brew


If you are doing a boil, it can be added in the last 10 minutes of the boil.

If doing a malt kit, pitch it the same time as you do the yeast. 

When you have a 'stuck fermentation'


If you are hugely confident that your fermentation hasn't completed properly (such as by having a vastly incorrect expected final gravity) then you make have a stalled fermentation. 

You can re-ignite your yeast's performance by adding the energizer. 

Before you do that, you should ensure that your drum or carboy is at a sufficient temperature to support fermentation. If you're brewing in a cold shed in winter, it's likely your yeast has gone to sleep rather than you have a stalled fermentation. 

Add one quarter teaspoon or a half teaspoon per gallon to your wort and give it a wee stir. The instructions on the label should give good directions as to the amount to use if unsure. 

↠ Best Grain Mills crusher

best grain mills for malt and barley


Best mill for crushing beer grains


Have you ever heard the expression, "that's grist for the mill?"

Its origins relate to corn being the grist that was taken to the mill. In the more modern use, grist is something that it is useful for a particular purpose. 

Which is just an excuse to talk about the best grist mills to mill grain with so that you can brew fabulous beers!

There's a little bit to think about when buying a mill and you should ask yourself the following kinds of questions
  • Can the mill handle the volume of grain you want to run through?
  • Can you adjust the mill gap to ensure the grains are cracked and not crushed?
  • Can you upgrade it as you go along?
  • How does it get mounted? Does it need or come with screws?
  • How affordable is the unit? 
  • Do you plan to use it long-term, what are quality considerations?
Or you can just have a look and compare between these top-rated units:


Here's some specifications of these three handy mills.

The 'Barley Crusher'


barley crusher malt mill
The Malt Mill 'Barly Crusher' is Northern Brewer's most popular mill due to it being a high-quality mill that is clean, durable and most importantly, it's hop will help you crush 7 pounds of grain.

Features:
  • Solid base fits easily on a standard 6.5 gallon fermenting bucket.
  • Adjustable rollers with a .015 to .070 range.
  • Materials that will last a lifetime: 1018 Cold Rolled Steel for the rollers, 6061 Aluminum for the mill body and hopper, tool steel for the axles with oil-impregnated bronze bushings.
  • 5-inch rollers have a 12 TPI knurl that pulls grain through while leaving the hull intact to form an excellent filter bed for sparging.
  • Large hopper holds approximately 7 pounds of grain.
  • Includes a hand-crank but no adapters are needed to use a 3/8 drill motor; using a 3/8 drill motor at 500 RPM gives a throughput of 6 pounds a minute.

Genuine Amazon reviews left by happy grain millers:

  • "This mill pounds through grain like a champ. There's no going back to my old Corona mill."
  • "The malt was nicely crushed, with husks moderately broken up, and endosperms exposed and cracked. My efficiency got a big boost- I got roughly 81% compared to the 63 to 73% I was getting before."
  • "Far more than looks, this thing consistently and smoothly grinds my grains. I run the grain through twice and have the husks beautifully unbroken and ready for mashing."
  • "Great barley crusher, very fast. This is great for increasing your mash efficiency."



Kegco KM7GM-2R Grain Mill 



The Kegco KM7GM-2R Grain Mill is a sturdy mill with an aluminium hopper that can hold up to 7 lbs of grains.

Featuring an alloy block frame that houses two steel rollers on stainless steel ball bearings. The drive shaft and all axles are integral to the roller, which makes it possible to drive the mill clockwise or counter-clockwise. 

A traditional hand crank is included, but a handy feature is that the mill can be easily motorized with a drill. No extra parts or attachments are required, you simply attach the drill as you would a drill bit. Charge your drill battery well!

Stainless knurled knobs allow a gap spacing adjustment range of .070". 

This unit is designed to crack grain, not flour.

Adjusting is simple - just loosen the adjustment screws, adjust the gap and tighten the adjustment screws. You will need to supply or build a base to set the mill over a grain bin or 5 gallon bucket. Sounds like a deal!

Ferroday Stainless 2-roller Homebrew Grinder

ferroday grain mill
The Ferroday is a no-nonsense mill is made of hardened stainless steel, The roller size is 5" long and 1.25" in diameter and the crank shaft has a 3/8" diameter.

The roller is adjustable so you can select your crush settings. The unit weighs 6.6 pounds.


If you've got some questions about using mills, we've got the answers:

Why do I need to mill my grain?


A beer mill allows you to crack your grains right before you brew so that you can retain freshness. Possession of a mill will allow you enable you to purchase more affordable unmilled grain in bulk thus saving you money in the long run.

When should I mill the grain?


It's best to mill your grain as close as possible to brewing day. Many brewers do it a couple of days beforehand so that they don't have to do it on brewing day. It's a long process which just adds to the length of brew days - and those brewers who don't have eight hours on a Saturday to play around with, shorten the process by milling earlier.

If you are unable to actually mill your grain,  you may want to delay your purchase as long as possible so that you can be confident that you have the freshest grains. If you are happy buying milled grain, then you may want to consider investing in a wort chiller or decent mash tun as they are crucial to brewing success.

Coarse or finely milled grain milling?


A grain mill that is appropriate for crushing barley for a mash is usually referred to as a 'grist mill'.

The mill needs to be set 'open' enough that the husk of the barley seed will crack open, but will not be torn apart. The goal of milling is to crack the grain kernels open, rather than pulverizing them into dust. By leaving the husks intact they serve as a filter bed during the sparge process.

Should you grind the grain much too finely, you run the risk of developing a stuck sparge, where the wort will not flow as intended through the grain.

Where should I mill grain?


Most brewers choose to mill outside, over a big bucket. The mess can begin when you dump the grain out of its sack - and that alone can justify your decision to mill outside!

Can I mash grain without a mill?


If you find yourself without a mill, you can try using a rolling pin. The rolling pin should at least crack the grain open. You might try crushing the grain on top of a thin towel. The towel will stop the grain from rolling around while you try to crush it. This 'rolling pin method' is very time consuming so I'd personally discount it as a method for the long term. 

Many a brave brewer has used a food processor and you can give it a whirl but be wary of over processing the grain.

How can I hook my drill up to the mill?


It's a simple trick to use your ordinary handyman drill to get the mill turning over. Here's a great example of how to set up the drill:

how to connect a drill to a mill

Can I interest you in a ph Meter or the best burner for brewing with?


↠ Buyer's Guide to ph Testing Meters for beer brewing

ph meter tester buying guide


Just want to pick a pH meter?


Choose from our recommend ph Meters list:

Choosing a pH tester for making beer, a buyer's guide


Once upon a time as a young lad, I used to work in a fast food restaurant that served chicken. It was a great gig as a student as I was never hungry - sweet deal eh?

Having never really paid much attention in school science, it was at this job I learned about pH.

How did I learn about pH levels and why are they so important?

You see I accidentally splashed some Sodium Hydroxide cleaning agent in my eye. In layman's terms, I bathed my eye in Caustic Soda!

It was a pain not worth knowing and resulted in a trip to the hospital and a saline bath and an eye patch for a week while my eye healed.

So after having learned that a strong alkali like NaOH has a high pH, it was no surprise to later learn that homebrewers care just as much about the ph of their beer as I do not want to blind myself with industrial strength chicken grease cleaner!

Brewers (and kombucha brewers would you believe) are interested in the pH of their beer because different levels cause the beer to have different characteristics of flavor. There are many other reasons to use ph meters of course. Those in the food and beverage industry need to ensure food is not to tart and the agricultural uses are plenty - soil acidity testing and hydroponic uses are pretty common. This is why testing water quality properly is so important.


How do beer brewers test their ph levels of beer wort?


They test their water and beer by using calibrated pH meters.

There's two approaches to this part of making beer - the cheap and cheerful units that will give a fairly accurate reading but not forever, or the more sturdy units that will give you a finely accurate reading and go the distance with a seasoned brewer.

Here are three of the cheaper options on the market.

Jellas Pocket Size pH Meter Digital Water Quality Tester



The Jellas pH meter is very affordable and useful for those who need a PH tester for household and laboratory use, it's not only ideal for household or laboratory use, also suitable for testing pH balance of drinking water, pool, aquariums and of course beer. 
Jellas Pocket Size pH Meter Digital Water Quality Tester
Fair warning, as it's a cheap device, it's not suitable for all day everyday use.

The manufacturer claims it's highly accurate for measuring a range of 0-14 PH, 0.1 PH resolution, measure & display pH results simultaneously with LCD display and that it does a reliable and quick reading.

It's easy to use - you just simply remove the protective cap and immerse the pH meter electrode in your solution and turn on the pH meter.

The manufacturer does give fair warning that the glass probe can be fragile and that it should be gently wiped down after use with a clean, soft cloth before capping it again for storage.

The Jellas water tester comes with:
  • 1 * pH Tester 
  • 1 * Carry case 
  • 1 * Calibration screwdriver 
  • 2 * ph buffer powder (for calibration) 
  • 1 * User manual 

Reviews on Amazon have said,

"I would absolutely recommend this meter to anybody that is looking for a PH meter/tester." "I love it as it is easy to use and takes the guesswork out of the PH of your brew"

 "Was spot on with calibration out of the box".

While you could always drive to Walmart and not get a car park, you'd do well to check out the price on Amazon.


Sharkk Basics PH Tester Full Spectrum Multi-Function Portable pH Tester with Calibration Button


Boasting a handy portable design, the Sharkk Basics ph Tester measures the full spectrum from 0-14, the pH Tester. The manufacturer states their product is guaranteed to display accurate results after each and every use.

Use of the Sharrk is dead simple, simply place the pH tester in any liquid to be tested and wait for the reading to display. The calibration button resets the tester in between reads.

A handy backlit LCD display means you can easily see acidity/alkaline levels of beer. You can of course also use it on your swimming pool, drinking water and even your food!

A user on Amazon gave a review and said of the Sharkk: "Nice quality and accurate, was able to calibrate and check aquarium pH in minutes.

Comes with a nice translucent plastic case.


If you are looking for affordable, quality devices, check out the below suggestions.

Bluelab Combo Meter


If you looking for an upmarket solution to measure your pH solutions then the tried and true Bluelabs brand has the measuring device you are looking for

The Bluelab Combo Meter is a portable pH, conductivity and temperature meter all in one. 

The meter has two probes, a Bluelab pH Probe and a Bluelab Conductivity/Temperature Probe. When taking a reading, simply place them into the solution and the selected reading is displayed on the screen.

Calibration of the pH probe is simple as instructions are supplied on the back of the meter and the easy push button method makes this one of the simplest meters to use.

The pH probe is replaceable so you can use this meter for years to come and you should be able to do as Bluelab offer a 5-year warranty on their product which should give you an idea as the quality of the product and the faith the brand has in it. 

The Bluelab has the following features:
  • Measures pH, conductivity/nutrient (EC, CF, ppm 500 and ppm 700) and temperature (°C, °F)
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Large easy to read display
  • Simple push button pH calibration
  • Successful pH calibration indicator
  • No calibration required for conductivity and temperature
  • Replaceable double junction pH probe included
  • Over range and under range indicators
  • Low battery indicator
  • 2 x AAA alkaline batteries included
  • Auto-off function
This is a pricey unit. If you are looking for a mid range device, Blue Lab's portable pens are in the hundred dollar range.

Check out the price on Amazon.

One of the most popular testers that brewers use and swear by is the Milwaukee MW102 PH. If you check out any decent homebrewing forum, you'll find backyard operators only too happy to sing its praises:

Milwaukee MW102 pH Meter


The MW102 Standard Portable pH / Temperature Meter Standard is a standard portable meter that does the business for many home brewers.

Milwaukee MW102 PH water tester
The Milwaukee brand is recognized as having a reputation for producing low cost durable meters which give quick readings and ones on which you can depend. 

Milwaukee’s manufacturer boasts that their devices are "manufactured to be easy to use, practical and accurate. Ideal for the classroom, laboratory or for general field use". 

Which is code for, yes you can use it to check the pH of your water or wort!

The MW102 is a microprocessor-based pH and temperature meter with extended range (-2.00 to 16.00 pH).

Featuring Automatic Temperature Compensation, automatic calibration in 2 points and ±0.02 pH accuracy. The meter is supplied with a pH electrode and the necessary calibration solutions.

The full package comes with the following:

  • MW102 Unit
  • 9 Volt Battery
  • Temperature Probe (MA830r)
  • PH Probe (MA911B/1)
  • PH Probe cover (a small bottle that fits on the PH Probe when not in use that holds storage solution)
  • User Instruction Manual
  • Calibration Solution sachets
  • Storage Solution Packet

The battery life features a whopping 300 hours so that's a lot of brewing time! Especially as the Milwaukee features an auto-off that kicks in after 8 minutes of inactivity.

A keen brewer on Amazon reviewed the Milwaukee 102 as a "fantastic tool to have in my brewing arsenal. I originally bought it for taking readings while kettle souring, but it's been invaluable as I dove deeper into water profile and mash pH adjustment. It's a bit more expensive than some of the cheaper meters out there, but you get what you pay for. Worth every penny in my book, and I regularly recommend it to those in the market for a high-quality meter."

That's some fair praise indeed. Check out the price on Amazon.

What is 'calibration solution' and why do I need it?


Calibration is a comparison between a known pH measurement (was referred to as 'the standard') and the measurement using your instrument. A properly calibrated pH water tester will ensure that you have an accurate reading.

To get a proper reading, calibration solution or 'buffer' is used. Standard pH calibration solutions are great for use in virtually any application and with most meters.

It's the absolute truth when we say the Milwaukee is the biggest seller on this site via Amazon, 

Don't forget to clean your electrode probes!


Electrodes can and will wear out after sustained use. To prolong their life, it is essential that you get into the practice of cleaning them after every use. A careful wipe with a clean cloth and ionized water is often recommended. 

A probe that has become 'dry' needs to be hydrated by placing in storage solution before calibration. The hydrated layer takes 3-4 hours to form.

What is the definition of pH?


pH is a figure that expresses the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a logarithmic scale on which 7 is considered neutral, the lower values are more acid and higher values more alkaline. It is a measure of hydrogen in the solution so pH stands for 'potential hydrogen'.

How do I lower pH levels?

If you've found your wort has a pH level that is too high there are several steps you can choose to take:


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