Best brewing thermostats for temperature || 2020 Review

inkbird temperature controller


Using thermostat controllers for temperature control when brewing beer


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. Pro tip - if your fridge has its 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 you 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 the 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 that 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 probe 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

Buyer's Guide for the Milwaukee MW102 pH Meter || 2020 Review

Milwaukee MW102 PH and Temperature Meter


Review of the Milwaukee MW102 pH tester


If you've ever gone on to a beer brewing forum and seen the question "What's the best ph meter to use" you are going to get 75 dudes all banging on about how great the Milwaukee MW102 pH meter is to use.

A few others might mention the Apera or the Hanna offerings but the MW102 is a killer instrument.

We're not kidding, brewers love it because it's reliable, durable and doesn't break the bank cost wise. Indeed, it's at the cheaper end of the mid-range pricing scale.

Marijuana growers in California love it too! And just recently growers in Canada too! My, how the world has changed. Kombucha brewers can even use it!

The MW102 is portable and gives fast, accurate and reliable measurements whether you're in the classroom, laboratory or for general field use.

And by 'general field use', we mean brewers on the grass in their backyard, brewing up a storm on brew day!

The manufacturer's specifications:
    Milwaukee MW102 PH and Temperature Meter
  • MW102 is a microprocessor based pH/Temperature meter with extended range (-2.00 to 16.00 pH)
  • Automatic Temperature Compensation
  • Automatic calibration in 2 points and ±0.02 pH accuracy. 
  • The meter is supplied with pH electrode and calibration solutions. 
  • MW102 is supplied complete with a SE220 pH electrode, MA830R stainless steel temperature probe, pH 4.01 and pH 7.01 20 mL sachet of calibration solution
  • 9V battery which should give approx 750 hours
  • The user instructions manual

Actual user reviews from Amazon


Real humans, real beer makers have purchased the Milwaukee MW102 and let some pretty genuine feedback as to how this good unit is.

"So far I am very happy with this unit. I have more faith in the calibration & readings of this unit. During calibration, this meter requires you to calibrate to 7.01 & then do a slope calibration to 4.01. I have not seen this with other meters, but once calibrated the unit is very accurate & holds calibration without issues. I may have made it sound complicated, but it is pretty easy to calibrate."

"I've owned this meter for 6 months now and it has been very accurate and dependable. I use it for wine making. It's really nice that it has a separate temperature probe because sometimes I use it for just that. A word of advice, buy the Milwaukee probe storage solution. It will decrease the number of times you need to calibrate the probe."

Sounds like sensible advice!

"This is in every way a professional laboratory-grade instrument of the highest quality! It is easy to calibrate and the calibration is very stable and long-lasting. It reads the PH almost instantly and is a joy to use. The tip should be stored in Milwaukee's special storage solution as recommended for longest probe life."

"I elected to give this one a shot because I wanted confidence the readings were correct. And they are. No more dipping a pen wand in the water to find a 8pH then immediately redipping the meter and getting a reading of 3.8 in the same water! So far a great product for the price. Exceeded what I had grown to expect from ph meters."

The unit is rated quite highly on Amazon and you can see why it's reviewers are hugely positive about it!

Maintenance tips for the Milwaukee MW102


As you'd imagine, Milwaukee offers a wide range of calibration, maintenance & cleaning solutions.

The use of calibration and cleaning solutions is fundamental for the correct use of electrodes and for obtaining the most accurate and reproducible readings. If you do not store probes properly, they will dry out and give incorrect readings and then you will need to spend some of your hard earned Earth dollars on a replacement (which Milwaukee will happily sell you!)

It's a very smart custom to clean your pH electrode fairly often. This is because a coating known as the 'hydrated layer' can develop on the glass bulb. This layer will cause your unit to display inaccurate readings. Which just defeats the whole point of using a meter!

The common method of cleaning the electrode is by submerging it in a cleaning solution for a whole 15 minutes. The solution will break down the hydrated layer.

After the cleaning solution has done its business, the probe must be rinsed with very clean or purified water and then placed in probe storage solution for at least 2-3 hours before calibration is begun.

ph meter milwaukee

Can  I get a replacement probe?


You sure can get a new probe - it's known as the 'Milwaukee SE220 '. You'll need one if you haven't looked after your main one by properly storing it - or you broke it by dropping it!

Replacing the electrode probes is as easy as changing a light bulb - just follow the instructions.

Milwaukee probes are given a warranty of 6 months - which is pretty standard.

When should I clean the Milwaukee ph Meter?


For accurate pH readings the Milwaukee's probe should be properly cleaned and then re-calibrated when:
  • when the on-screen measurement is not close to the reading you were hoping to read. 
  • when the batteries have gone flat, been removed or changed. This is because the unit will not remember
  • when the pH probe is replaced with a new one
If the Milwaukee is not for you, then you might find something that meets your needs in our pH meter buyer's guide -  which features the popular Bluelab Combo Meter.

Bonus fact: Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin, USA. We're not worthy...

When to add 'rice hulls' to the mash

rice hulls

Have you ever had a stuck sparge when there's simply no wort exiting the tun? 


What a way to slow down your brew day! 

Sure, you can give you mash grain a bit of stir and try and remove the blockage and get going again but what if you could add something to the mash to prevent another stuck sparge?

Enter rice hulls.

Rice hulls are the exterior layers of grains of rice.

When rice is harvested, the hulls are cast off because they are not for eating.

Once the hulls have been washed and dried (which removes flavor and color) they can be used as a filtration agent for getting the wort out of the mash.

They work by creating some space around the gritty and gristy mash particles so the wort can flow out of the mash tun. Given they do not add any flavour to the wort and are pretty cheap to buy, rice hulls are an excellent solution to a brewer's need to prevent a stuck sparge or lautering process.

Rice hulls offer a natural, easy way to help prevent a stuck mash!

Use rice hulls when sparging a high gravity beer


It is a good idea to use rice hulls when you're brewing a high gravity beer with a big grist. This applies especially to beer recipes that demand high percentages of specialty malts and for wheat and rye beers.

This is because these grains have higher levels of protein and beta-glucan than compared with barley grains and these elements cause the wort to be more viscous than other brews.

How much rice hulls should I add to the mash?


Many brewers seem to use hulls at a percentage no greater than 5 percent of the total grain bill. In reality, a common measure is 1/2 lb per 5 gallon batch.

When do I add the rice hulls to the mash?


You can simply mix them into your dry grains before you infuse them with the hot water.

Can I sparge with oat hulls instead of rice?


You sure can. 

Like rice hulls, oat hulls are the shell of the oat grain. Give they are pretty much inedible and no good for making porridge with, they have found other uses as filters. They act in just the same manner as rice hulls and do not any impart anything into the wort.

They are commonly used when brewing rye or wheat beers, the same as rice hulls.

Do I have to worry about rice hulls absorbing water?


Worry? 

Perhaps that's the wrong word but if you are the kind of brewer who likes their beer exactly as the recipe demands, then yes, the hulls can absorb water. 

So, what do to? Soak them in water prior to use so you don't have to even think about it.

Given there can be the odd bit of dust in them, give them a rinse in a colander before soaking.

Do I need to sterilize the rice or oat hulls?


Some people do but I really can't see the point as the wort is about to be boiled within an inch of its life in the brewing kettle on top of a burner with masses of BTU which should kill any bugs that were hiding on the grains or hulls. 

Using Campden tablets to clean water and sanitise brewing equipment

campden tablets for beer

Using Campden tablets as an 'old school' method of making better-tasting beer


These tablets can be used to remove chlorine from your water, to kill bacteria on brewing equipment, and to protect your beer by preventing unwanted foreign bacteria fermenting in your beer.

So what is this, some kind of super pill?

Campden tablets are basically potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite. When added to the beer or even cider or wine, they instantly react with the chlorine (or chloramine), removing it from the water solution. 

All this is done without adding any unwanted flavours to your water or beer.

How many Campden tablets should I use?

  • If using for sterilization of equipment, use 16 tablets to one gallon
  • If removing chlorine from water, half a tablet to 5 or 6 gallons will break it down in less than 10 minutes.
  • If stabilizing apple juice when making cider to kill off wild yeast, deploy one crushed tablet per gallon of juice. You should wait for approximately for 24 hours before you pitch your yeast.
  • If trying to stave off an infection in cider or wine, then 1 or 2 smashed up tablets dissolved in your product, rack if you need. You will then probably want to bottle your cider asap and hope the tablets can overtake the infection. This trick may or may not work. 

Are Campden tablets safe to use? What about the release of sulphur dioxide?


Yes, the tablets break down into very drinkable compounds - remember this product has been used for many years, if it did cause any harm, it wouldn't be such a successful product.

You may have heard that sulphur dioxide is released into the water. This is very true, however, when it reacts with the chlorine and chloramine it quickly breaks down. By the time your beer is to be drunk, the concentration in terms of parts per million is massively diminished.

So your beer is safe as houses to drink.

This is quite similar to how homebrewing doesn't make methanol.

When to use Campden tablets for making cider


Producers of cider know full well that a batch of juiced apples can easily succumb to acetobacter bacteria contamination which causes the classic turn-to-vinegar spoilage of the apples.

Yeast is resistant to the tablets but the acetobacter is easily killed off, hence treatment with an agent like a Campden tablet is important in cider production.

Why are campden tablets used with wine?


In addition to preventing stray bacteria talking hold of a homemade wine, Campden tablets can also be utilised as an anti-oxidizing agent when transferring wine between containers. The sodium metabisulfite in the Campden tablets will trap oxygen that enters the wine, preventing it from doing any harm.

Do Camden tablets halt fermentation?


It is a fairly common misconception that Campden tablets can be used to halt the fermenting process in wine or beer before all the sugar is converted by the yeast, hence controlling the amount of residual sweetness in the final product.

It is simply not true though.

To truly completely stop fermentation, you'd need too many Campden tablets to do so, which would then actually make your produce undrinkable. 

Where do Campden tablets get their name from?


The original solution was developed in the 1920s by the Fruit and Vegetable Preserving Research Station which came from the English town of 'Chipping Campden'. The Boots UK pharmacy chain then made the product popular when they developed it as a tablet. 

Do I have to use these tablets, are they necessary for brewing?


No, the use of Campden tablets is totally your choice as a brewer. If you live in an area where the municipal water supply is not heavily dosed with chlorine, then you might not need to.

Brewers in Havelock North, New Zealand will sure tell you how bad the chlorine is in the water after the local Council managed to poison so many residents, so in such regions, you would seriously want to consider using them. Indeed, you can always do home DIY water testing with a kit.

There are other means of removing chlorine and chloramine in the form of active carbon filters. In the context of a home or residence, these units are generally only good for producing tap water. If you need larger volumes of water for brewing with, a carbon filter will take a fair bit of time to filter your water. 

Patience is a virtue, they say. 

If you are using Campden tablets for sanitizing your brewing equipment or wooden barrels that you age your beer in, there are many other options out there, including sodium percarbonate (it's cheap as chips) or something more professional like Powdered Brewery Wash

Fun fact: Campden tablets are also useful in decontamination and neutralization after exposure to tear gas!

Why does my beer smell like rotten eggs?

Why does my beer smell like rotten eggs?


Who likes the smell of rotten eggs in their beer?

No one.


There was a time last year when I went to bottle my beer.

I'd just sterilized the bottles within an inch of their lives and I was ready to get the precious amber fluid into them.

And with that first pour from the fermenter into the green glass bottle, I got the most rank smell.

Rank.

Smell.

Of.

Rotten Eggs.

It was like I had cracked open a rotten egg and fanned it right up my nose!

It was disgusting like some kind of vile hydrogen sulfide bomb had been let off and the aroma was trying to burn my nostrils.


My brew was contaminated and I was gutted


There could have been a couple of reasons why the rotten eggy smell was happening. That rotten egg smell can usually be identified as the gas hydrogen sulfide.

It's probably the most obvious symptom that your beer has become contaminated.

It is the bi-product of the yeast strain or bacteria that have snuck into your brew (did we ever mention you've got to sanitize your equipment?).

The thing about lagers and rotten smells...


All is not necessarily lost, however.

You can fix this problem if the sulfide was produced by the yeast and not bad bacteria.

Lager yeast strains are quite prone to producing sulfide odours.

This is normal.

If you properly condition your bottled beer (the lagering process) by letting it stand for a few weeks, the smell should go away before it's time to drink.

This is why we also recommend that new brewers try an ale or two first to avoid this problem and being disappointed with their foray into brewing. 

The news is not so good if you have a bacterial infection 


When is such news ever good?

In my case, I think it was clear that the beer was infected. The smell was pungent and a wee taste test suggested worse things were on offer.

But even though I was pretty sour, I was a stubborn bugger and bottled anyway on the off chance a bit of time conditioning would let everything sort itself out.

How wrong was I?!

The beer I tasted after two weeks was probably the worst thing I have ever put in my mouth and I once lost a beer drinking game involving a rinsed out kitchen cloth...

I reckon this bad beer would have made me sick if I had drunk a whole glass.

The rest of the brews were opened and tipped out. What was very interesting was there was a massive amount of CO2 / bubbles foam released when each cap was removed. They were giant gushers!  I imagine this was due to the unwanted bacteria continuing to work its own fermenting magic on the malt.

Either way, the lesson here as always is to do your absolute best to ensure that you have clean equipment and that you've done your best to sanitize it, and kept it clean during the beer brewing process.

If you find your beer in this condition before bottling, I'm afraid all you can do is dump the batch.

And then clean the heck of your fermenter and bottles!

This was a brewing lesson I will never forget. I'll be lax in some areas but will always make sure my equipment is clean and sanitized!

Skunked beer


While we're here talking about ruined beer, let's talk about skunked beer. This is when a chemical reaction happens in the bottled beer due to exposure to sunlight.

So named after the smell a skunk can release, lightstruck beer is caused by the UV radiation in light from the sun and retailer's lights. The so-alpha acids in the beer (which come from hops) are broken down and form a new compound in the beer by joining with any proteins floating around.

This compound stinks!

Brown glass is pretty handy at preventing this from occurring but not so much green bottles or clear glass. So, the trick to avoiding skunked beer is clearly to store your beer in the dark.

In summary:
  • If you are brewing a lager, the smell could be 'normal' and may disappear after the beer has been conditioned
  • It could well be your beer is contaminated by bacteria, in which case nothing will save it. Head to the pub for a self-pitying pint.
  • Lightstruck or skunked beer can happen when the bottled beer is left in sunlight too long.
  • Let your beer condition properly so that the yeast has time to work it's magic properly.

The use of 'Palaeo Water' in Stoke beer


A few years ago I happened upon the McCashin's Brewery in Nelson, the home of Stoke beer. I did the tour and drank plenty of their fine beers. A very pleasant way to spend an afternoon with friends.

I recently spied the Stoke IPA at the supermarket so I grabbed some. It's a great tasting beer, and one I'd happily drink again.

And when drinking one, that's when I noted something strange, the back of the label referred to 'Palaeo Water' and what's more, it was apparently trademarked.

This intrigued me as, what on Earth is so-called 'palaeo water', as water is just water.

Right?

I wondered if the beer was trying to market itself as part of some questionable paleo diet

Regardless of the spelling, the association was amusing and smacks of marketing which I would have thought ordinary beer drinkers would be too smart to buy into as a reason for buying what is an excellent IPA beer.

I see another New Zealand beer blogger has wondered about this before.

Turns out McCashin's 'Palaeo Water' is simply water that is sourced from an ice age era water reservoir in the Nelson region of the South Island of New Zealand. The water is said to be 14 thousand years old. Luckily the well was found underneath the brewery.

So it makes sense for the McCashin's to promote their Stoke beer as having excellent quality water because good, clean water makes for excellent beer brewing results (for example unwanted 'beerstone' in equipment can form for example when water has too much calcium).

My second thought was was this another case of a beer company trade marking something 'common' to their own advantage? My mind immediately went to the moment when Dominion Breweries trademarked the term 'radler' which irked many beer drinkers and brewers in New Zealand.

So it appears McCashin's have simply branded water from the Nelson region (i.e. from their water well in their brewery) as Palaeo to give themselves some kind of marketing edge in the bottled water market:

palaeo water nelson

Which to be fair, is simply some sharp marketing of New Zealand water.

looked up the trademark for Palaeo on the Iponz site, and sure enough, the mark is owned by Roc Mac Ltd, of which many members of the McCashin family are shareholders.

And unlike DB's questionable success in trademarking 'radler', palaeo water is a simply clever marketing innovation by a family of great beer makers which doesn't prevent any other local brewers from finding ways to extol the virtue of the water used in their beers.

The irony of all is this is perhaps that if you are actually following a paleo diet, you can't drink beer, even that with Palaeo water, as beer didn't exist during the paleolithic era...

11 best brewing tips for beer kits in 2020

11 great tricks for brewing beer in 2017

11 best brewing tips for beer kits in 2020


Beer is beer, and the principles behind making it will never change.

No matter the year, you still want to get the best quality beer you can make with your beer kit and so here’s the best tips and tricks we have to help you make great tasting beer. 

While often seen by many beer snobs as the ‘stupid homes schooled cousin’ of those who make all grain beer, those snobs are simply wrong. You can make great beer with kits. 

This is a great guide for first time novice beer brewers but seasoned pros may find a nugget of gold to help you make better homebrew!

1. You need to run a lean clean machine


You've chosen your beer kit and are ready to begin. The first thing you are going to do is ‘Keep it Clean’. This was the same for 1917 and it will be for 2117. If you are making beer, you gear needs to be cleaned and sanitised.

Your fermenter and the gear you use to prepare your wort must be in a tip top state of
cleanliness. 

Sure, you can get away with not cleaning your beer bottles but you can’t get away without having a clean and sanitised fermenter. Sure, the Vikings who made lager in oak barrels in caves had never heard of using sodium percarbonate but you have and you need to use it to prevent your beer getting infected.

The best part about using sodium percarbonate?

You’ve probably already got some as it’s found in ordinary laundry soak

I’ve had brews get infected and I know it was my fault as I did two kit brews and the same time and both got infected. I am a 1000 percent sure if I had of done a proper job of cleaning my gear (including stirring spoons and washing my hands) I would not have ruined 80 bucks worth of malt and hops. That said, don’t stress too much about accidental contamination….

2. Brewing temperature will have a massive effect on your beer


Fermentation is a process that requires just the right kind of temperatures and the right kind of times. Different temperatures suit the differing kinds of beers. A very rough guide is that you should aim to brew lagers between 10-14 degrees, and get those ales done between 18-21 degrees. 

A constant correct temperature is also very important as the yeast can react to a temperature variance in ways that are not good for tasty beer! So when doing your first brews, make sure it can be done in a warmish area and one that's going to keep that temperature.

I often use blankets to ensure that the beer is kept at a fairly even temperature. 

3. Be a patient beer brewer


Your wort will take about a week to properly ferment. You can tell when fermentation has finished by taking readings with a hydrometer. When you get two or three consecutive days of the same reading, fermentation is probably complete. 

And if you are properly following the instructions of the beer kit (don’t), you might think it was time to bottle your beer.

It’s not. Wait another week.

While the yeast may have eaten all the sugars, it will move on to other parts of the wort and in doing so it will clean up your beer, helping to remove unwanted products of the fermentation process. The yeast will slowly drop to the bottom of the fermenter thus improving the clarity of your beer

4. Hops are like the magical ingredient of beer


If you just used malt and sugar and yeast you would get beer. Add hops and you get BEER! Different hop varieties suit different kinds of beer. After hundreds of years developing beer, there are now some well-established rules of thumb for what kinds of hops brewers should use. This guide to using hops will help you find the hops that’s right for you.

5. Want clearer beer? 


Trying using gelatin as a fining agent. It combines with the 'leftovers' of the beer brewing process and they fall to the bottom of the fermenter thus clearing the beer.

You can add it any time after fermentation and word on the street that it actually works best when the beer is quite cool. A common timing is to add it a couple of days before you intend to bottle your beer.

But just remember gelatin can come from the hoof of a horse, so if you are trying to make a beer suitable for vegans, think again.

6. Change up the yeast?


Making lagers can be a tricky business as they don’t have a strong flavour that can mask problems like a strong stout can.

A way to improve the chances of a successful lager brew, you may want to consider discarding the standard yeast that comes with a beer kit you might want to order the lager yeast known as WL833 - it's a popular yeast for lager brewing and is proven amongst the beer brewing industry.

7. The sweet taste of success


When bottling your beer, ensure that you use the right amount of sugar. If you use too much, you will no doubt suffer the pain of beer gushers. These happen when you open the beer and whoosh! It blasts out like a volcano going all over the place. 

Another handy trick to reduce the chance of a gusher beer is to have chilled your beer for at least a couple of hours before you intend to drink it.

I have personally experimented this with a troublesome batch and cooling your beer before you consume it definitely reduces the chances to too fizzy beer.

Using carbonation drops is a handy way to make sure you get the right amount of sugar in the bottles.

8. Oxygen exposure can impede the bottle conditioning of your beer

Too much oxygen in the bottle can give the beer a quality that you may not want in your beer. Too much oxygen can allow any organisms left in the beer to flourish, giving an unwanted vinegar-like quality. While not a massive risk, you can reduce the change of it by using a beer bottling wand.

By adding it to the tap of your beer you are able to easily fill your beer without causing too much oxygenation. Make sure you firmly install the wand as I’ve had personal experience where I haven’t and spilt beer all over my garden shed floor when the damn thing fell out….

Bottling wands also make bottling easier and faster as the valve at the bottom means you do not need to turn the tap on and off for each bottle when filling. 

If you don’t use a wand, we suggest you fill your bottles by angling them so the beer pours down the side of the bottle to reduce agitation.

9. Use a beer enhancer


There’s no easier way to making better beer kit beer. 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 by the dextrose being the food for the yeast and are thus used in the fermentation process. 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. 

If you want a good creamy mouth feel, beer enhancers that have a high percentage of malt or DME will do the trick. This is because you are adding more ‘unfermentables’ in your beer.

The more malt you add, the 'creamier' your beer will be. This is in the sense that your beer will be more viscous, making it feel thicker in your mouth

10. Storage temperature is also important 


Once you have bottled your beer, that’s not the end of the matter. It's often 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. 

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

11. Note what you did down


Keeping a record of what you have been brewing will give you an insight into what has worked, what didn’t and what your personal preferences are.

12. pH Levels


If you've become a bit of a pro, you might want to consider using a ph meter to test your beer for accurate and optimum pH levels.
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