Brewers of STW

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  • Brewers of STW
  • I always think changing the mash temp accurately would be v hard, so I tend to hit temp and hope!

    think i’ve got my first dodgy batch 🙁 took a gravity reading of my SNPA clone last night and whilst i definitely recognise flavours of SNPA there, there is also a distinct vinegary smell from it. I did wonder if the brew was a bit off as the smell from it during the early days was a bit more pungent than usual.

    in good news it hit the FG bang on the money though 🙂

    I have nobody but myself to blame as i topped up again with tap water and didn’t sanitise my dropper when taking my OG post boil, so an expensive lesson to learn but it reinforces the need for good practice. I’ll bottle it anyway as i think it was quite drinkable from the sample i had and going to brew another using the correct mash volumes this weekend to avoid having to top up.

    YLAL!

    peterfile
    Member

    On the one occasion when a load of tap water made it into my cooling wort (due to my leaky chiller), the batch tasted awful when I bottled and didn’t get any better.

    That said, definitely bottle it. I bottled a black IPA a couple of weeks ago which tasted a bit dodgy as I was bottling it, however 2 weeks later and it’s incredible.

    Give it time…you’ll know in a couple of weeks if it really is a bad one!

    yeah i see the consensus is bottle it and give it time, so i’ll do that and see. I’m a bit gutted that its not awesome and no issues, but it was only my 2nd BIAB and i knew i was playing with fire by adding water. the OG was 1.078 beforehand though so i’m not sure what would have happened if i’d not topped it up – higher abv i guess?

    In any case i have found the reason why i was off with my volumes so i’ll rectify that and see what this batch turns out like. I’m not sure if its the placebo effect but i did think beyond the slight tang that there was identifiable flavours of SNPA.

    peterfile
    Member

    If you hadn’t topped up water it would have had a higher ABV, more body and it would have given you fewer bottles obviously.

    The more I brew, the more I realise that good beer is simply the result of getting all your processes right, and dialling them in is a bit of trial and error, so you’re just another step closer to consistently good beer!

    I think I just brewed my 25th batch. The difference between batch 1 and batch 20 is huge…but the difference in the last 5 batches has been even greater.

    At first, it seems like there’s so much going on, never mind looking at water chemistry, playing around with the mash and fermentation temps etc. But gradually you get familiar with each individual part and are able to tweak it and understand what each of those tweaks are doing to the finished beer.

    In all honesty, it’s one of the most interesting and satisfying hobbies i’ve ever had. The more time I spend researching and brewing, the more I seem to enjoy it. The fact that I get a crate of free beer at the end of it is a major plus too!

    50% science, 50% art IMO. Perfect!

    Premier Icon mugsys_m8
    Subscriber

    Think you hit the nail on the head with that post above Peter!

    Just bottled up batch 3 of the original massive brewery recipe. Whilst it is good, it is not dissimilar to micro brewery stuff I can buy here. I want to make something that reminds me of Sheffield!

    Can anyone help with a simple recipe?

    I have:
    2.5kg Maris Otter
    2kg Crystal Malt
    300g E Kent Goldings
    150g Phoenix
    1 pack Mangrove Jack’s M44 US west coast yeast
    2 packs Mangrove Jack’s M07 British Ale yeast.

    Must get round to getting to grips with beersmith…but I want to get a brew on before heading to Turkey for 4 weeks with work.

    Thanks in advance!

    Premier Icon trout
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    If you want consistent results without the faff of water chemistry then get some Gypsom and use the Tesco Ashbeck water only about £1 for 5 litres
    and add some gypsom to the mash and some to the boil
    1 teaspoonful in each for a 23 litre batch so you should be able to down scale
    no worries about the chlorine either

    And looking forward to work tomorrow as doing some flooring at the Saltaire Brewery 😀

    allthepies
    Member

    I’m helping out at a micro brewery tomorrow, 1000L batch of Pale Ale 🙂

    peterfile
    Member

    Allthepies- I’m jealous!!!

    Get some pics!

    Trout – how does that work if you’re brewing an IPA v a stout? As I understand it, a profile that is good for one isn’t necessarily good for the other?

    Premier Icon trout
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    from a well respected brewing guru called Aleman

    water treatment

    peterfile
    Member

    mugsys…I don’t have access to brewsmith right now, so can’t give quantities until later, but how about this for a general brewing plan:

    Brew 1 – just Maris Otter and some Goldings
    Brew 2 – Maris Otter, a bit of crystal and some goldings
    Brew 3 – Maris otter, some crystal, some goldings and some phoenix

    That way you get to taste the difference that each ingredient makes to the finished beer. You could even keep some bottles from each batch aside and do some side by side comparisons?

    There are programs out there that are easier to get on with than beersmith (you could even try the iphone version?). Beer Alchemy is pretty good, but try it for free first.

    I’ve been brewing every 2 weeks for quite a while now. Currently got an Oatmeal Stout, Citra/Centennial IPA, Black IPA, Cascade Pale ready and drinking…another pale due to be bottled at the weekend and an amber in the fermenter. There’s also an RIS and DIPA in the loft that have been conditioning for abotu 9 months or more.

    Premier Icon mugsys_m8
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    Hmm that sounds a very good idea. For the maris and goldings, how about same quants and strike temps etc as per the massive brewery recipe just swapping out the phoenix with the goldings?

    peterfile
    Member

    Yep, that will work no problem at all.

    If at all possible, use the same yeast across the batches.

    Sit down in a couple of months with a glass of each batch and compare.

    My first few batches were too complicated because I got so excited (my second brew was an Old Peculier clone!), but you learn very little. As soon as I went back to basics with ingredients it made a world of difference in terms of understanding what each component of the brew does.

    Another useful experiment (if you have a spare fermentation vessel) is to split one of your batches in half when you’re about to pitch the yeast. Stick one strain in one fermenter and a different strain in the other. Do a similar comparison and you’ll see how each yeast strain affects an otherwise identical wort.

    peterfile
    Member

    trout, I can’t seem to get that link to work?

    Just checked, my tap water is actually remarkably close to Ashbeck anyway (first figures are mine, second are Ashbeck):

    PH 5.86 v 6
    Nitrate 3.8 v 23
    Chloride 7.35 v 14
    Calcium 7 v 10
    Magnesium 1 v 2.5
    Sulphate 11.66 v 9.9

    Linky

    Premier Icon mugsys_m8
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    Another great idea re. splitting the batch.

    Can do that no worries.

    Thankyou so much!

    Off to put my climbinh kit away after a damp bivvy on the s side of the Barre des Ecrins and an aborted attempt on the S_N traverse.

    disco_stu
    Member

    Are there any alternatives to the Massive Brewery kit?
    They are out of stock and I’ve emailed asking when they will next been in stock but not received a reply as yet.

    peterfile
    Member

    I did a list of links for a mate a wee while ago that’s very similar to Massive Brewery kit but will allow you to do a full boil (ie no faffing about with a dunk sparge) and get 10l into the fermenter rather than 8.

    Let me dig out the email and I’ll post it up.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
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    You could put together your own kit with bits off eBay for around the same price. The Massive kit is great for getting you started & convenient but tbh I upgraded everything in it bar the chiller (which is really well made and seems great value compared to what people are selling on eBay) before too long. Obviously you could make your own chiller though (see a few pages back in this thread!)

    As peter says you’d probably want a bigger stock pot anyway, and the grain bags & thermometer that come with the Massive kit are crap.

    disco_stu
    Member

    Cheers peterfile, email is in profile.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
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    Did my approx 10th brew last night – a Belgian one for the first time! Getting pretty confident with the basic process (including water treatment) and consistently hitting my target numbers now so starting to experiment with other factors now. Did the mash a little bit higher as this apparently produces a drier beer (for the Belgian style). Will be adding some candi sugar as fermentation dies down a bit as well.

    Also have stuck the FV in a water bath for the first time to keep the temp down. (Live in a flat and space is limited unfortunately otherwise I’d definitely have a dedicated brewing fridge or two!) My last two bitters with S-04 yeast were definitely fermented too warm as they had “unwanted” (although not unpleasant) flavours. Porters were better as the stronger flavour masked these (if they were there at all). Pale ales with US-05 yeast fermented side-by-side tasted great though so I guess that yeast is less temperature critical?

    peterfile
    Member

    stu, here’s the list

    19 Litre stock pot: £26 http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/160901418854?_trksid=p2059210.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

    10 litre fermentation bucket x 2: £11 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Litre-Fermentation-Vessel-Bucket-airlock/dp/B0047UTPS2/ref=pd_cp_kh_0

    Little bottler and tap : £7 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Bottler-automatic-bottle-filler/dp/B0041XM36Q/ref=sr_1_2s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1408015412&sr=1-2&keywords=little+bottler

    Hydrometer: £4.50 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Home-Brew-Wine-Making-Hydrometer/dp/B005LVQA1G/ref=zg_bs_3579743031_22

    Thermometer: £2 http://www.amazon.co.uk/DIGITAL-KITCHEN-THERMOMETER-COOKING-TURKEY/dp/B007CJR67C/ref=zg_bs_3579743031_1

    Straining Bag: £5 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Large-Nylon-Straining-Bag-Fine/dp/B0026X6LLG/ref=zg_bs_3579761031_19

    Hop bags: £3 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Muslin-Bags-Pack-of-10/dp/B0026WXMR8/ref=zg_bs_3579743031_19

    Wort chiller: £35 http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Immersion-Wort-Chiller-Copper-Homebrew-Micro-Brewing-Real-Ale-25-33Lts-/331274716366?pt=UK_Home_Garden_Food_SM&hash=item4d218304ce

    Bottle capper: £12 http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Youngs-Home-Brew-2-lever-Beer-Bottle-Crown-Capper-Sealer-26mm-Diameter-Bottles-/251561207897?pt=UK_Home_Garden_Food_SM&hash=item3a92376859

    Bottle caps: £1 http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/50-Crown-Caps-Capping-Beer-Bottles-Homebrew-Tops-ALL-COLOURS-Top-Quality-/321466790882pt=UK_Home_Garden_Food_SM&var=510360326415&hash=item4ad8e9f3e2

    Total cost: £106

    Slightly better than the MB kit (IMO in that you get a full boil, more wort into the fermenter, less chance of boil over, ability to brew higher gravity beers, a proper way to bottle (little bottler), and a proper capper).

    IMO, you’d also be wise picking up some Star San (it’s about £10) and if your budget can stretch to it, get a better thermometer (I recently bought a thermapen and discovered that my original thermometer was 2 degrees out!!!).

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    +1 on the Thermapen, you can get a refurbished one direct from the manufacturer (ETI) on eBay for a decent discount. The cheap thermometers take an age to take a reading and are guaranteed to break at the most inconvenient time!

    +1000 on Star San, makes life so much easier.

    peterfile
    Member

    (Live in a flat and space is limited unfortunately otherwise I’d definitely have a dedicated brewing fridge or two!)

    I had a similar issue at mrs pf’s house.

    I bought a small wine chiller (it doesn’t have a compressor so is almost silent, uses very little electricity, has a glass front door and doesn’t need as much ventilation).

    Kitted it out with an STC 1000 thermostat and a 60w greenhouse heater. I can hold any fermentation temp I want down to about 10 degrees (so no lagering, but that doesn’t bother me).

    It fits a 10 litre FV perfectly.

    Best thing was…mrs pf had one of these in the corner of the room…

    While she was out, I removed the panel facing the wall, and adjusted the rest of the box slightly so that it would fit perfectly around the chiller (I had specifically sourced the chiller for this purpose).

    I put it back together, plugged it in and pushed it back into the corner of the room.

    I left it for a week before telling mrs pf so that she had no excuse to say it was noisy/unsightly etc! She hadn’t even noticed it.

    Chiller was £20 from gumtree
    STC 1000 was £15
    Greenhouse heater was £10

    So I’ve got a fully functioning, stealthy fermentation chamber for under £50 🙂

    peterfile
    Member

    Yes, pretty much. Just make sure it’s thermoelectric cooling rather than traditional fridge cooling (easy way to tell – if you can’t see anywhere a compressor might be hiding, it’s probably thermoelectric)

    Also, have a look on gumtree/ebay since you can pick some slightly grubby ones that have been in people’s garages for very very cheap (no one seems to want a grubby wine chiller!).

    Just check that it doesn’t have a built in shelf or similar. You’ll want the full space available. That’s why the small beer fridges don’t work very well – they’ve got a shelf at the bottom that the compressor sits behind, wiping out much needed space.

    US-05 yeast fermented side-by-side tasted great though so I guess that yeast is less temperature critical?

    possibly. I believe this is the “Chico” strain from Chico, California, as used in Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. granted SNPA will be brewed in properly temperature controlled conditions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the original wild yeast is a bit more temperature tolerant than say a German or Czech lager yeast

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    Also, have a look on gumtree/ebay since you can pick some slightly grubby ones that have been in people’s garages for very very cheap (no one seems to want a grubby wine chiller!).

    Thanks, will scour ebay/gumtree!

    Just check that it doesn’t have a built in shelf or similar. You’ll want the full space available. That’s why the small beer fridges don’t work very well – they’ve got a shelf at the bottom that the compressor sits behind, wiping out much needed space.

    Yeah I’ve considered mini beer fridges in the past but they’ve never seemed big enough/the right shape for an FV. Never even thought about a wine chiller for some reason!

    possibly. I believe this is the “Chico” strain from Chico, California, as used in Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. granted SNPA will be brewed in properly temperature controlled conditions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the original wild yeast is a bit more temperature tolerant than say a German or Czech lager yeast

    Interesting, thanks. It’s definitely my favourite yeast so far out of the ones I’ve tried. Cracked open the first bottle of a new batch made with it yesterday while I was brewing – it’s the first beer so far I’ve managed to make which was properly clear (and tasted great) so pretty happy!

    Premier Icon mugsys_m8
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    If I am doing 1/2 the batch with 1 yeast and 1/2 with the other, shall I still use all the yeast packet in each? i.e. is 1 packet per 4 litres really pushing it and asking for trouble?

    peterfile
    Member

    Overpitching to the extent that it has a negative effect on the beer is normally quite difficult, but from memory there’s about 200 billion yeast cells in an 11g dry yeast pack (i’m assuming yours are 11g?).

    mrmalty calculator says you’d only need 2g of dry yeast for 4 litres at 1.048, so 1/2 a pack is around 5.5g…almost triple the recommended pitching rate.

    If you’re able to eyeball 1/4 of a pack it would be better, but I wouldn’t be too worried if you put a bit too much in…just try to avoid dumping a whole pack in 🙂

    How accurate are your scales? Weight the pack, tip a bit of yeast into the wort, weigh again…repeat until it’s 2-3g lighter than when you started.

    sounds a bit of a faff to me. but then I do 19-23 litre batches & a whole pack of yeast is just fine & dandy

    I must admit I do like US05, but that’s mostly because I like the American style ales. I do like other styles too…

    I use a narrow range of yeasts, not that fussed about getting the exact yeast that the original brewery uses:

    American style ales / British IPA – US05
    English bitters – S04
    Stouts & Porters – Danstar Nottingham. Needs rehydrating in 100ml of tepid water before pitching

    come October I’ll be trying a Peroni clone, so I’ll use Saflager for that & fermenting in the shed

    I saw an ad at the back of good food magazine offering 20% off a thermopen from the manufacturers site. Might need to dig it out and share if its a decent price compared to the refurbs etc. My freebie electronic thermometer went haywire during my last brew (as expected 🙂 ) so come the end of the month i’ll be buying a few more toys 🙂

    currently on a detox so no beer for me (which is proving tough!) but i’ve brewed two SNPA clones so far. One was suspect (i thought it was contaminated) but is drinkable and has notes reminiscent of the SNPA original. The one thing that didn’t seem to work was batch priming, so i’ve reverted to bottle priming for the v2. Not sure why but the first few bottles i opened were a bit flat, so i assume there isn’t enough sugar in those bottles. Will see what the rest of the batch is like soon.

    V2 was only bottled a week ago, so i’ve yet to see what that is like. I’m hoping its an improvement but this was the first batch where i’d changed the water volume and actually put in a bit too much this time, so OG was a bit low. FG came out at 1010 though after 3 weeks in the fermenter so i’m hoping it will be ok.

    Need to get the brew on this Sunday i think, give me something to take my mind off food!

    peterfile
    Member

    Glad you’re having fun David 🙂

    How much sugar did you use for your batch priming? I find it works wonderfully. For 9 litres (bottling volume), 2 volumes of co2 takes about 45g of sugar. I boil it up in some water, let it cool, dump it into the bottling bucket and then rack the beer on top of it. I always have even carbonation throughout the batch.

    How long are you leaving them to carb and at what temp? I tend to leave them for 2 weeks at room temp before bothering to check and I’ve yet to have a batch that haven’t properly carbed.

    Amazon have the thermapen for £37 at the moment. Brilliant wee device, it’s only a couple of seconds to take a reading, so no more hanging around waiting for readings.

    I bottled a Casacade/Galaxy IPA at the weekend. It tasted incredible, like tropical fruit! But…something went wrong with my auto siphon and I ended up blasting the beer in the bottling bucket full of air 🙁 Fingers crossed it holds up long enough to carb before it starts going stale and I’ll just make sure I drink it quickly!

    hey PF,

    I batch primed by dropping the brewing sugar straight into the secndary and only added 1/2 tsp per bottle for that batch as i would when i was bottle priming, not sure how that relates to grams. That could be the reason for the lack of carbonation if the sugar didn’t dissolve properly or there simply wasn’t enough.

    I carbonate them at room temp for 2-3 weeks first, so that wasn’t a problem. I find bottle priming easy enough so i might carry on with it.

    just been browsing the ebay site for thermapen, 36 notes for a refurb. tempted!

    peterfile
    Member

    David, check that amazon one I linked to…it’s £37 for a brand new one.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    I batch primed by dropping the brewing sugar straight into the secndary and only added 1/2 tsp per bottle for that batch as i would when i was bottle priming, not sure how that relates to grams. That could be the reason for the lack of carbonation if the sugar didn’t dissolve properly or there simply wasn’t enough.

    As peterfile says above, the best method is to boil the sugar in a little bit of water. This helps it mix with the beer properly and also would sterilise the sugar. It’s also much less hassle than priming each bottle individually!

    There is a handy calculator in Beersmith (other tools are available!) for working out how much priming sugar to use. I’ve found it really enhances the overall feel of the beer to get the carbonation appropriate to the style so this is worth doing properly IMO.

    Yeah i dont really know what i was thinking when bottling that first batch by just dumping the sugar in, i can’t blame beer though as i wasn’t drinking during it! I will look into it in a bit more detail in Bs, now that i’ve got my head around the issues i had with volumes.

    Cheers

    Premier Icon zilog6128
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    Was chatting with my mate over a pint in the local microbrewery about the problem of keeping the beer cool during fermentation. We came up with the idea of some kind of insulated jacket which pumped coolant around (similar to how a liquid-cooled PC would work). A bit of Googling shows there are a few commercially available implementations of this idea although they all obviously contain pipes and a pump so mechanically there are things to go wrong.

    Then I found this! Anyone seen it already? http://www.brewjacket.com.

    It was a Kickstarter, but has already been successful and is shipping at the end of the year apparently. Uses the Peltier effect for cooling so has no moving parts. Very energy efficient, is compatible with all FVs and doesn’t increase their footprint. Can get the beer very cold as well so useful for layering or cold crashing.

    Only drawback really seems to be the cost!

    so i went on a bit of a shopping spree at the weekend:

    -thermapen (made a booboo PF and didn’t realise the Amazon one was new, compared to the refurb on ebay. idiot that i am – shouldn’t matter too much)
    -a 10l FV (was brewing in my 25l FV and it was a bit overkill)
    -refractometer from ebay
    -some amarillo, centennial, cascade and EKG hops from brewuk.

    going to try a midweek evening brew, possibly a Citra Smash to use them up or maybe something a little more exotic. I still have some magnum and perle hops, but i’m not sure the perle would make a great smash, any experiences?

    Also contemplating doubling the brewfridge capacity with a wine chiller 🙂

    expensive wee hobby once you start!

    bamboo
    Member

    To save me reading through the entire thread, what does the cost per pint roughly work out at with home brew? Tempted to give it a go when I’m less busy at home

    Hi Bamboo,

    I’m sure others will have different figures, based ingredients, size of the batch and cost of kit used, but a basic kit to brew 40 pints is about £20-25 for a reasonable kit. The equipment needed will probably set you back another £60-70, but the cost per pint comes down the more you brew. If you start going into more complex brews than kit brews then the cost of kit goes up and (usually) your batch size comes down a bit so cost per pint increases. Its difficult to put an exact figure on it. I have well over £200 worth of brew kit, but I’ve only bottled about about 150 bottles in total, so my cost per pint is relatively high. I think PF has brewed >25 batches so his bottle count must be over 250, so per bottle his might be cheaper, although i think he has as much if not more kit than me 🙂

    I think most of the brewers on here will say they don’t do it to save money though (much like MTB :)) its more about creating your own brews the satisfaction of steadily getting better at it to produce something thats as good as, or better, than commercially available brews.

    Give it a go if you can afford the kits, its great fun!

    In other news, the thermapen arrived and itsa lot bigger than i imagined! Calibrated 12th July though and looks new, so happy enough with it.

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager
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    bamboo – Member

    To save me reading through the entire thread, what does the cost per pint roughly work out at with home brew? Tempted to give it a go when I’m less busy at home The biggest cost, by far, is your time. Finding it hard to brew at the weekend atm, can’t fit the 5 hr block in around everything else.
    On the plus side it’s the opposite of labour intensive – you can do other things whilst a brew is on, you just need to be there to tend to it at certain critical junctures.

    peterfile
    Member

    It was a Kickstarter, but has already been successful and is shipping at the end of the year apparently. Uses the Peltier effect for cooling so has no moving parts. Very energy efficient, is compatible with all FVs and doesn’t increase their footprint. Can get the beer very cold as well so useful for layering or cold crashing.

    Only drawback really seems to be the cost!

    I read all the info and thought “brilliant!” and was about to order three to allow me to store fermenters in some awkward places.

    So, pre ordering three would cost me $900. Are they having a laugh?

    I built a peltier effect brew fridge for £50.

    Nice idea, but £200 per fermenter????!!!

    Also contemplating doubling the brewfridge capacity with a wine chiller

    David, check this out.

    Great idea if you’ve got the space!

    so i’ve got a weekend brewing slot lined up to test some new toys, namely a refractometer, thermapen and a 10l FV. I’ve also got a handle on my volumes so hoping to make a good brew. Want to make something better than all my previous attempts as i have a memorial weekend in mid Oct for a good mate we lost 2 years ago and i’d like something to be proud to hand out for drinking.

    I have loads of MO, most of a kilo of Crystal, some perle, magnum and Citra hops in the freezer and new 100g packs of amarillo, EKG, Centennial and cascade hops.

    Whats does the STW beerhive think i can do that will be simple and good?

    On another note a fellow brewer suggested a teaspoon of sugar per 500ml bottle, rather than 1/2 tsp i normally use. How brews did have a much better fizz and head on them. I know carbonation styles vary by volume but what do you guys normally use?

    Cheers

    Back from my holidays and have unpacked the brewing gear.
    I have some new toys too!
    Beersmith software
    Refractometer
    Thermapen

    My brewing hasn’t been great. I regularly get the starting gravity too low.
    Hopefully with these new toys I can monitor what I’m doing and work with it instead of just guessing.

    My birthday is in mid November so I reckon I can get two brews ready for a birthday party.

    Also, as an aside

    If you were re-doing your kitchen is there anything specific you’d add or way of setting things up to aid brewing?

    We’re re-doing ours in the flat so might as well think about it.

    Can’t really think of anything…
    Is an induction hob better for temperature control than a gas burner?

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