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Best brewing thermostats for temperature control

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

Inkbird Pre-Wired Dual Stage Digital Temperature Controller


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

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

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

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

inkbird dual plug system"What can I say, this is the best value out there! excellent range of temps, very customizable and accurate, lets me stay within a degree. I use this for fermentation control and the price allows a practical solution. Very durable and the 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

Kegco 5 Gallon Ball Lock Keg is great for homebrewing

When a brewer gets tired of bottling their beer, sick of gushers and dreading cleaning bottles over and over again, they might decide that kegging their beer with a ball lock keg so they can have a beer when they want it and not have to worry about a beer gusher or an exploding bottle ever again...

There are plenty of ways to keg home brew but a popular choice is to use a 5-gallon ball lock keg.

They are an ideal size for standard brews made in a 5-gallon fermenter and are easily connected to a jockey box and stainless steel faucet for an efficient pour!

So what is the best ball lock keg to keg with?

best ball lock keg for brewing

Kegco's rubber handle home brew beer keg is a popular choice for American beer makers. It torpedoes the other's out of the water, leaving them in a foamy mess!

This corny keg is designed for use with ball lock keg couplers and features a 304-grade stainless steel construction.

That just means the Kegco is a durable beast!

This keg has a permanently molded rubber bottom skirt and top handle that makes it easy to carry and stack, making it ideal for smaller breweries and home brewers with limited available storage space. The stainless steel lid also fastens tightly to the body and features an integrated pressure release valve that allows you to easily depressurize the keg.

The ball lock fittings that are naturally designed for use with ball lock keg couplers. The ball lock fittings can be easily accessed to make cleaning and maintenance fast and simple.

The beauty of this pepsi keg is that it can also be used to store not only beer, but also wine, soda, kombucha, and cold brew coffee.

Here's what some actual users of this keg have had to say about how it works and whether it's worth the purchase:

"I have been bottling my beer for over 20 years. I received the two 5 gallon kegs today and I was happy both were shipped with positive pressure. So I immediately knew that all the seals were good without pressurizing. The kegs were new and had no dents. I then immediately cleaned and sanitized a keg and transferred a batch of Peach Ale from secondary. Within minutes I had an amazing beer. I’m not going back to bottling. The next keg is going to be filled with a stout so I’ll have some variety on tap. I’m so happy."

"This product arrived in great condition. Everything seals tight and the ball lock valves are very nice. The keg is obviously high quality and will be a great addition to my home brew equipment - I'm just sorry this will be hidden in my kegerator. :)"

"Shiny, shiny. In recent years, used soda kegs have become scarce enough the price for one that merely holds pressure has risen pretty high. Might as well buy a new one, and get it clean, with fresh seals and O-rings all round, to boot. Kegco offers a solid product, and I like the rubber all around the perimeter of the top."

If those reviews float your boat, check out the price on Amazon:

↣ How long can beer be left in the primary fermenter?


What is the risk of leaving a beer in the primary fermenter too long?


As a general rule of thumb, one can leave the beer in the primary fermenter as long as one needs.

There is no set maximum time limit, though there a couple of risks to keep in mind.

Many brewers simply follow the beer recipe or instructions on the malt kit and leave their wort to ferment for around a week to ten days. This usually allows enough time for fermentation to have completed.

And technically that's OK, and it's time to bottle.

But the mystery and muscle of brewing beer are that there is a whole range of chemical processes happening in that wort you're fermenting. Sure the yeast may have produced enough alcohol to make a good drop of beer but there are still a few things that happen.

The longer you leave your beer, the more chance the yeast has to get rid of smells and other leftovers from the fermentation process.

A great example of this is the presence of acetaldehyde in the wort. This chemicals forms at the beginning of the fermentation process. It tastes like sour green apple and is not really conducive to a good brew.

What's the best way to get rid of this apple taste from  beer? 

Let the yeast take the time to convert it into ethanol (alcohol).

So leaving your beer for longer than the recommended instructions on the tin of the beer kit is pretty much a smart move. Frankly, given the benefit to the beer and thus the kit manufacturer's reputation, I do not know why they don't frame the time as a minimum.

That said, when I followed Te Aro's brewing instructions for their Obligatory ale, I made damn good beer.

Exceptions aside, the longer you condition your beer, the greater reduction in acetaldehyde that will occur and the beer your beer will take.

Stout beers have even more to work through so they can happily take longer in the primary.

Another benefit of leaving the beer in the primary for longer is that there is a greater chance that your beer will clear more sediment, thus giving you clear beer

Many a brewer likes to see their lager look like a lager - that classic light yellow / orange combo. Sure, some wheat beers can be a bit hazy. And the end of the day this comes down to personal preference as the beer taste is not generally affected.

What about extra long times?

Many brewers have reported leaving batches for months and suffered no issues. I'd reason though that the beer was stored in a cool place - a beer wort left in a hot environment is sure to fail as the yeast would probably get cooked. 

There is an issue that can happen called autolysis. 

This is when the yeast cells die, giving off some potentially off flavours. These could be hydrolytic enzymes, lipids, and metal cations that can contribute to off flavour. If you've made a healthy batch with a quality yeast, pitched at a good temperature and brewed in a stable environment, then the risks of autolysis are quite low. 

If you are quite concerned about this, you could counter by racking your beer to a secondary, thus removing the yeast cake from the equation.

It's important to note, the same process begins again when the beer is bottle conditioned - more sugar is added to the beer for the yeast to eat - this is because CO2 is the by-product of fermentation and is trapped in the beer. Most beers strongly benefit from being bottle conditioned for three weeks before consumption.

↠ 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.


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:


↠ Apera PH60F pH Pocket Tester for brewing beer and wine

Review Apera Instruments AI312 PH60F Premium pH Pocket Tester


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

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

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

As for all pH metersprobes must be properly cleaned and maintained or else they can dry out, won't work, or perhaps even worse, give incorrect readings, and how will that be good for your beer?

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

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

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

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


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

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

"The back-lit display is excellent for working under low-light (tap the power button once while the unit is on to activate), and the instrument fits perfectly into the top of 1-gallon water jugs.

A note of warning, make sure the EC electrodes are not submerged in the electrode storage solution while not in use, only the glass pH bulb should be in the solution."

"The Apera PC60 instrument is super easy to use. It comes with everything needed to calibrate and feel confident in your readings. I even tested it against a 1000 TDS calibration solution I had and it read great! The display is easy to use and the backlight is very handy. I love that the "cap" is built in a way to put your liquid in, with a fill line, and closes securely around the pen.

It then is able to calculate the different levels in the liquid. I no longer have to bend over and hold my pen in the nutrient reservoirs. One of the best features is the ability to set the TDS factor. This is important because PPM is calculated differently in different parts of the world. It gets very confusing."

Finally, here's a testimonial that seems pretty fair:

"After having gone through 3 different cheap meters last year I decided to spend a little extra on this one. I am not disappointed. It's well worth the money. It's fast, accurate and covers a range of tests. I read the previous reviews and was somewhat sceptical. However, after using this product for a few weeks on a daily basis, I would recommend it to anyone.

The LCD screen is a little small but I can read it without glasses. I found the instructions to be thorough and fairly well written. I think they must have updated their manual after previous reviews. I have backups just in case but after the first week, it became obvious I wasn't going to need them. By far the best meter I have used without spending a couple of hundred dollars."

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

How to calibrate the Apera pocket tester


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


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

What's the warranty for the Apera? 


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

Check out the price on Amazon!

What is the German Beer Purity Law and is it still obeyed?

German beer law stamp
The Germans are so serious about their beer they made a stamp!
What are the German Beer Purity Laws?

Have you ever been drinking a commercially brewer German beer, been bored with the conversation and decided to read the bottle label? 

Did you spy the wording 'brewed according to the German Beer Purity Law'? 

Did you wonder what the law meant? 

If you thought it meant your beer was brewed by beautiful virgins with long blonde hair, you're probably on the wrong website.

The German (read that as Bavarian) beer purity laws showed just how serious they were (and still) are about brewing their beer. Introduced by Bavarian officials in 1516,  the 'Reinheitsgebot' (as it eventually became known 300 years later) was designed to try and control price competition in the market place. 

German economists, not understanding the complex dynamic of market pricing required that only barely could be used in beer brewing so as to not increase the price of other produce that could be used to make bread, namely rye and wheat.


The key rule of the law is the ingredients:

According to the Bavarian law, the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley and hops. 

And that's it. Note that yeast is not mentioned. This came much later in the 19th century when it was realised that yeast was pretty vital when making beer

Anti-competitive motives

The 'Reinheitsgebot law' also made rules about the price that beer could be sold as in the bars. This pricing strategy was intended to reduced competition for the ingredients that went into bread being rye and wheat. 

By making the law, the effect was to exclude beer from the wider German states that may have contained other ingredients thus helping reduce competition and allow local Bavarian beer producers to continue as they were. 

To keep in line with the beer law, making pilsner beers became the order of the day, thus laying the foundation for German's proud history of making pilsner.

As a public health measure


It’s often claimed that the beer purity law was the first food safety legislation in the world. This is because the law prevented brewers from adding ingredients that could be considered unhealthy such as rushes, roots, mushrooms, and animal products.

The mushrooms could have some severe consequences for the drinker as the point of imbibing was to a) enjoy a beer and b) enjoy the effect of alcohol and not experience a hallucinogenic experience caused by the mushrooms!

It’s mused that the original intent of the law did not really entertain health concerns but its focus was ensuring profits for local Bavarian brewers by keeping out competitive beer makers. 

So is the beer purity law still observed? 

This law was taken very seriously and was observed for 300 years. Eventually, it spread across the whole of Germany.

Yeast was later added to the law when it was identified how vital it was in the beer making process.

When Bavaria entered the German Unification of 1871, it was a condition of their entry that the beer law was carried through. Not even ruler such as Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich dared change the way beer was made.

Even in the more modern era, the law is still strictly applied and this had led to various court cases taken by brewers who want to try new ingredients and brewing processes. 

This has led to several products being made that are beers but cannot have the word 'bier' on their label and also variations on malt and production techniques may be used. 

Faced with the reality international trading obligations, Germany allows the importation of beer that does not comply with the local legislation, however, local brewers must still observe the requirements. 

They are, however, less stringent than they used to be!

Feel good marketing

The reality of the modern world is that there is no reason to have a beer purity law - local and international competition sort all that out, especially when there is a greater supply of product like wheat and rye around the world - so the consumption of beer doesn't affect the price of bread! 

Instead, a passionate beer fraternity still follow the methods for reasons of tradition and more arguably, for a competitive marketing benefit!

Now-a-days, beer brands like Heineken use the reference to the purity law as a means to identify with quality and to align their beer with good bear making ideals - thus giving comfort to the beer drinker they are drinking a quality product. 

It's quite a good tactic given that beer is a global product and traded freely around the world. 

German beer can be held out as being brewed in a certain way and without ingredients that the health (!) conscious beer drinker may be keen to avoid. 

↠ What is dry hopping (and how you do it)

what is dry hopping in beer making?


How to dry hop homebrew beer 


Simply speaking, dry hopping is when the brewer adds hops in pellet form to the fermenter after the wort has been readied.

The brewer is, of course, using hops to improve the aroma of the beer and to add some bitterness to the brew (bitterness is best produced by the boiling of hops though). 

This ‘dry’ practice is often done later in the fermentation cycle of the beer. The thinking behind adding the hops later is that the hops aroma is more likely to stay with the beer brew through to the bottling process.

This is because the bubbling process and emission of carbon dioxide via the airlock allows the aromas to escape.

Bearing in mind that one should leave one’s beer to sit quietly for a couple of weeks before brewing to ensure that the yeast has had a chance to do its thing, this is a great opportunity for the oils and bitterness of the hops to also transfuse into the beer.

It’s for that reason why dry hopping is a popular practice.

That said, we’ve thrown extra hops into our brews at the start of the fermentation process and haven’t experienced any taste disasters.

Beware the sediment factor

A point you might like to consider is that dry hopping can increase the chances of sediment settling in your bottled beer. You may wish to think about placing the hops in a nylon mesh bag or muslin wrap.

Shortly before bottling your beer, remove the muslin back of hops with a sterilized instrument and you’ll be fine. 

I’ve read some brewers raise concerns that this method may reduce the chances of the hops being exposed to the beer. If you do share those concerns, you may want to make a tea of your hops!

If you are worried about infecting your beer with hops, don’t worry about it – indeed hops has been found to assist yeast with fermentation by having an anti-microbe effect on any nasties in beer!

The classic hops choices for brewing are popular for dry hopping: Cascade, Crystal, Fuggle, Saaz, Willamette, Golding, Hallertau, and Tettnanger. You can of course dry hop with whatever variety you wish! It’s your beer, you can make it any way you want. 

We would encourage you to match the kind of hops to the kind of beer you are making. E.g. Goldings hops is a popular choice for ale brewers.

The home brewer’s last question of how much hops should be used when dry hopping is fairly easy to answer. Anywhere between 30 – 60 grams is considered normal, however, you can add as much or as little or as you want. It's all about taste and experimentation to find your personal preference.

If you double that 60 grams to 120 you will be more likely to get a very strong hop aroma from your beer. Any greater amount and you will probably suffer diminishing returns (and hops are expensive!).

Did you know you can grow your own hops?

⇒ What equipment do I need to start home brewing?

What equipment do I need to start home brewing?

What equipment do I need to start home brewing?


If you’ve decided to brew beer, you’re in great company.

Einstein, Churchill, the mighty Thor himself and every man with a shed, has at one point or another, brewed some tasty beverages.

But they all had to start somewhere, and so here’s a list of what equipment you might need to get started brewing beer.

We’re talking about brewing using a beer kit here, the kind of brewing where you ‘beer wort’ basically comes in a can.

You get to choose what hops or sugar you add (jelly beans maybe?) and the rest is simply following some good brewing instructions.

But what do you need to brew some good home made beer?


This list is just the basics, you could probably actually get away with using less but at the very least, this guide should help you decide what you need to get that golden ale flowing down your gullet. 


What equipment you might use on Brew day

Here's a handy checklist for your set up. Not everything is a 'must have' but you must have clean and sanitized gear, no matter what you do.

Ingredients
Equipment for brewing
  • Sanitizer - To sanitize all of your equipment. It’s a must. If you don’t your beer might die. 
  • 6 gallon / 23 litre fermenter (drum or bottle). You will use this for making your beer in 
  • Thermometer - To monitor the temperature of the wort – this is so you can add the yeast at the correct temperature and avoid killing it. *
  • Hydrometer - Used test the original gravity of your batch *
  • Paddle or spoon - Something to stir the boil with, maybe not your wife’s best spoon. A long handle is what you need. Try not to drop it in your batch....
  • Gloves – making beer can get a little messy * Do not use your dad's chainsaw gloves!
  • Can opener – to open the beer kit 
  • Water - Access to both boiling and cold water 
  • Bubble Airlock – to allow the release of CO2 and to assist with the observation of fermentation
  • This is totally optionally and really only for seasoned beer makers, a pH testing kit can be pretty handy.
  • Ph Meter for checking the water as being suitable for use. Even if you're making kombucha, check the level.
  • A good gas Burner for boiling water. 

Bottling day - what you need

  • Bottles! – cleaned and free of dirt and spiders or slugs or bird shit (trust us on this, it’s happened) 
  • Sanitizer – Yes, once again you need sanitize all equipment and bottles and caps 
  • Bottle caps - Make sure they are not twist-off bottles 
  • Bottle capper – speaks for itself, helps you place the caps on bottles 
  • Hydrometer - To measure the final gravity *
  • Priming sugar – Sucrose which is to carbonate the beer while in the bottle (called beer conditioning
  • Bottling wand - This allows you to easily control the flow while bottling and means less spillage will occur. *
  • Patience. Just a little patience. Shit will go wrong, learn from the experience and move on. 
* denotes an optional item of equipment

Also, I'm just gonna randomly add that if you like Mortal Engines, check out the behind the scenes work that goes into the movie.

Best mash paddle for brewing day

best mash paddle for brewing
Any 'professional' homebrewer needs a mash paddle for paddling mash for brewing day!

Wood, plastic, or metal, it doesn't matter as long as it does the job when mashing with tuns.

Ensure you have a sturdy paddle or it will snap when using it. 

Some brewers like to make custom jobs with their own designs as the 'holes' on the paddle.

Also, we suggest you also get the large paddle and if you are going with the metal, then we suggest you will get the best benefit from a stainless steel unit.

If you are looking for a wooden paddle, then those fashioned from maple are known to be quite sturdy and will give a long service life.

If a paddle is not for you, then a spoon may be for you.


How to work out the alcohol ABV of your home brew beer

work out alcohol content of beer


How to use a hydrometer correctly to determine the alcohol content of your beer or wine



A trick of the home brewer's craft is to keep a hydrometer handy. This tool will help any beer brewer to make great beer.

What is a hydrometer?


At its most basic scientific purpose, a hydrometer is an instrument that measures the specific gravity of liquids, that is to say, it measures the ratio of the density of the liquid to the density of water.

Did you get that?

Why would a home brewer use a hydrometer?


A home brewer uses the hydrometer to monitor the fermentation progress and measure the alcohol content of his produce.

Hydrometers can measure specific gravity, potential alcohol and the approximate sugar per litre of content.



So the big question then, how does one use a hydrometer?


If you float the hydrometer in a test tube of water you will find it gives you a gravity reading of 1.000. This makes sense as there is no water displacement occurring.

Not let's assume we are at the point where you have prepared your beer wort. It's time to add the hydrometer to the beer wort in a test tube. Not only is there water in the wort but other mixed in ingredients including sugar, thus meaning some displacement can occur.

Spin the hydrometer around in the tube - this will dislodge any bubbles that are helping to float the hydrometer above what should be the actual reading. 

Take note of the reading which is where the hydrometer crosses the water / air line and write it down as you will need it for your equations later on. It's called the starting or original gravity. 

Let the brew ferment.

When you think fermentation is complete, take a reading. Then wait 24 hours and take a second reading.

If they are the same, you have your final gravity measurement.

A handy rule of thumb to beer in mind is when the final gravity is approximately a quarter of the starting gravity you’re done with fermentation. 

Let your beer 'chill out' in the drum a bit longer. While the bubbles may have stopped, chemical reactions are still occurring and they will help make your beer taste even better.

How to work out the alcohol content of your beer using the hydrometer's specific and final gravity readings


It's a crude or rough measurement but the calculation / to use equation is simple:

(Starting Reading minus Final Reading ) x 131 = alcohol by volume (ABV)

Given that hydrometers are calibrated to be used at specific temperatures one needs to use the taken readings a guide rather than a wholly accurate value.

For example, if your hydrometer is calibrated to be used in an environment of 15 degrees centigrade but it's warmed to 20 degrees, there's a chance your readings will be slightly out.

To be frank, for the average home brewer, it hardly matters if your 5 percent beer is actually 4.8 per cent!

There's quite a bit of science behind how the units are calibrated but provided your readings are semi accurate, you shouldn't need to worry about it too much!

A single caution though. You shouldn't feel the need to take readings all day every day as you wait for fermentation to finish. Exposing your beer to the atmosphere does raise the possibility of a contaminant getting in so beer that in mind.

If you want to increase the ABV of your beer, add more sugars.

Using Brix and a refractometer to determine alcohol content by measuring sugar


If you do not have a hydrometer, there's an alternative to work it out. Using the Brix method one measures the sugar content of an aqueous solution, in this case, your beer.

Using your refractometer, take a drop of your beer and get the measurement. If you multiply that by 4 - this will give you the specific gravity which you can then use with the normal calculations.

If you're keen on getting a high ABV, check out these tricks to increase the alcohol content of your beer.

Order a hydrometer from Amazon now!

Image credit to Daniel Spiess via Creative Commons Licence

How to re-use yeast from the trub

how to recycle yeast from the fermenter

Yeast trub and how to re-use it


We've talked a bit about how vital yeast is to the beer brewing process which got us thinking about how many brewers choose to mix and match yeasts to the different kinds of beers they want to make.

This comes at a cost though - yeast can be a fair cost component of brew day.

So to save some cash money some brewers choice to re-use the leftover yeast that remains in the 'trub'.

You might think, that stuff at the bottom of the fermenter is just a whole lot of gunk and no good to anyone.

You'd be wrong.

There's usually plenty of viable yeast still left and it would love nothing better than to feast on some more sugars...

Cashed up commercial breweries recycle and re-pitch yeast, so why don't you?

How to 'wash' your leftover yeast for reuse and repitch


Washing your leftover yeast to reuse it in another batch is a great skill to have in your back pocket as a homebrewer. Yeast washing is actually a fairly simple process where the goal is to separate the remaining live yeast from the residue of the trub being mostly hops and spent grain.

Your final goal is to make a yeast starter so that you do not need to purchase yeast every time you brew.

Washing your yeast cake


You are not really washing the yeast, you are basically decanting it from the other hops and residue in the trub. 

Mix the trub with about 1500 mls of water in an easy to pour container such as a conical flask. Let the slurry settle and it will settle - the yeast and water will form a layer over the top and the debris will fall to the bottom. 

Decant the 'creamy' yeast level into a clean container. 

This 'washed' yeast can now be stored in the refrigerator for many months until you wish to use it as part of a yeast starter

There's a more simple method where you don't wash the yeast or make a starter...


Draw or harvest your yeast sample from your primary fermenter as it contains more active yeast than what would be in a secondary fermenter (if you actually used one).

Once the beer has been racked for kegging or bottling it's time to begin the harvest. There will be a  layer of trub and it needs to be liquefied somewhat to make it easy to work with, so add some clean and sterile water.

Take your 'slurry' swirl it up the slurry and decant it from the fermenter it into sanitized containers. Properly cover them tight and store those in the fridge.

Each container should enough yeast to ferment an average 23 litre batch of beer.

If you use one of the containers in the next 3 weeks or so, you can use it directly without any other preparation as the yeast will still be quite active. Pitch in the normal manner.

If you are using yeast beyond a three or four week period, you'll do well to rouse the yeast from its slumber.

Place the slurry into a starter container and add a quart or litre of fresh wort to "wake it up" before using. Warming it to room temperature will help too.

If you're thinking that washing yeast sounds like too much work, feel free to ask if:

Can I just add fresh wort to the trub?


You sure can, but if you intend to recycle yeast over and over, you're going to get a lot of trub left at the bottom right?

So this practice might work better if you add a properly cooled fresh wort over the trub of a secondary fermentation. 

Give the new solution a bit of a stir so that the yeast finds its mark.

Why should I recycle my yeast?


The big commercial breweries do it to save money and it's an efficient process. For the homebrewer the best reason to do this is so that you 'jump start' your next brew with a much larger pitching cell volume. This means you will give your beer an excellent start at fermentation and a likely reduction in the occurrence of strange smells and flavours in your beer.

How many times can I recycle my beer yeast?


Many commercial brewers reuse yeast for several fermentation cycles - and we've heard stories of going through to 40 or 50 batches.  How they do this is by pumping the residual yeast via the bottom of one fermenter into the waiting and ready lump of steal and repeat.

Trial and experience will dictate how well you go. The better you sanitize your equipment and care for your yeast, the more viable it will be.

Conical fermentors make access the trub easy. Given it collects at the end of the cone, you can simply remove it by opening the valve and emptying it into a clean collection vessel.