↠ 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.
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