Домашний сыр

Домашний сыр.


  • 1 литр молока
  • 1 ст.л.соли
  • 200-300 г. сметаны
  • 3 яйца


  • Молоко ставим кипятить, посолив его.
  • В это время взбиваем сметану с яйцами.
  • Как молоко закипит, добавляете сметанную смесь и помешивая кипятите около 5 мин.
  • как только масса отделиться от сыворотки, откидываем эту массу на ситечко. (У меня сита металлического не было,использовала марлю).
  • Даем полностью стечь жидкости.
  • Через несколько часов можно есть!
Posted in Food and drink, Recipes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

6 Home Coffee Roasting Methods Tested

There was a time in America when if you wanted coffee, you had to roast it yourself.

The now-ubiquitous brown coffee bean used to ship to general stores green, with housewives usually roasting at home with a frying pan or — if she was lucky — a crank-turned home roasting system. With the advent of high-volume roasting companies in the mid-1800s and ever-improving freshness-sealed packaging, consumers no longer have to worry about roasting (or grinding for that matter) their coffee before brewing it.

Recently, the micro-roasting movement has brought roasting back into the home. For many coffee-lovers, home roasting is a way to ensure the freshest coffee in a rural areas, in the vast suburban Starbucks Sahara, or even just as a cheaper alternative to pricey high-end coffee mail-order services.

We tested six different home roasting methods. First, I tried four commercial options: the Nesco Professional, a Fresh Roast SR500, the Behmor 1600, and a Hottop. I also tried two DIY methods: a cast iron pan on a gas stovetop, and Whirley Pop popcorn maker I modified to work as a coffee roaster — a popular hack I found on the web. I did two or three test roasts on each machine with some green beans I grabbed from the show floor at this year’s Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) expo. Then, for the final run, I roasted some high-quality beans given to us by the fine folks at Sweet Maria’s, a Bay-area coffee supplier.

Read the reviews of each individual roaster by clicking through the product photos at the top of this page. We also took a look at Bonaverde’s much-ballyhooed new machine that roasts, grinds and brews your coffee all at once. We didn’t get the chance to test it alongside these other home roasters — the 3-in-1 machine is still an early prototype — but you can read Mat Honan’s impressions of the Bonaverde on Gadget Lab.

The ratings of each tested roaster are based on four factors: ease of use, evenness of roast, cleanliness — roasting produces both smoke and chaff, and each roaster manages them differently — and the taste of the brewed coffee it produces. To keep things consistent, we roasted the same coffee (washed-processed Guatemala Huehuetenango Xinabajul, in case you were wondering) on each of the different machines to about a city roast level, or just after first crack. The next day, we cupped the coffees according to SCAA standards at the tasting lab of San Francisco roasting company Four Barrel Coffee. The resulting tasting notes were given by a round table of coffee professionals, home roasting enthusiasts, and one coffee-loving WIRED editor.

These reviews are written for those with some knowledge of home roasting. So if you’re interested in getting into home roasting but you aren’t familiar with the process, start by reading Sweet Maria’s guide to the basics. That link will also get you up to speed on all the lingo.

Posted in Food and drink | Leave a comment

6 Common Homebrew Myths with Denny Conn

Common Homebrew Myths
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…

Although Charles Dickens was talking about the French Revolution when he wrote those words, you’d almost think that he was talking about the flow of homebrewing information today. We have unprecedented access to homebrewing information and ingredients, which is a wonderful thing. But at the same time, we almost have an overload of information, and as anyone who has ever tried to hit every booth at Homebrew Con Club Night can tell you, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing!

One of the problems with all of this information is that much of it isn’t applicable to what we do, is questionable, or is simply wrong. I’ve spent a lot of my brewing time over the last 19 years and 500+ batches trying to figure out what’s true, what isn’t, and most importantly, what matters to homebrewers.

Let’s start by looking at where myths come from. The most common source seems to be homebrewing literature, coupled with word of mouth. Someone will write something they’ve heard in a book. That makes it “fact,” and it gets repeated down the line. The repetition gives it even more credence: “Everybody knows that’s true! It was in a book!” It could be that the misinformation appears true because someone misunderstands an underlying principle and attributes a particular effect to the wrong cause. Or it could be because no one has ever tested the concept to determine its validity or applicability to homebrewers.

Some myths start with commercial brewers whose concerns are quite different than those of most homebrewers. Others simply come down to a difference of opinion. And then there are myths that are directly contradicted by common brewing practices, but for some reason, people don’t connect them.

Here’s my list of the top six myths and misunderstandings that are common in the homebrew world.

Sparge Temperature

Ever since I started brewing, it has been taken as fact that using sparge water over 170° F (77° C) will extract harsh tannins from the grain and cause astringency in your beer. You still hear this frequently on forums and in books. But it seems to overlook one little thing: the decoction mash.

Decoction mashing has been around for centuries and is still used by some homebrewers today, many of whom win awards for beers made using the technique. Decoction mashing is done by removing a portion of the mash and boiling it before returning it to the mash tun. The last time I checked, boiling is hotter than 170° F (77° C)!  So, why does this technique make award-winning beer instead of a harsh, astringent mess? Because of pH.

If the pH is low enough, any tannins you may extract will actually enhance flavor rather than cause harshness and astringency. The magic number seems to be a pH of 6.  If you keep your pH well below that, the temperature of your sparge water really won’t matter. For the last 15 years I’ve been using sparge water in the 185–190° F (85–88° C) range and have no issues with tannins from the grain whatsoever. That’s because with my water supply and batch sparge technique, the pH of my grain stays well below 6, even without treating the sparge water with acid to lower the pH. Whether that exact method works for you will depend on your own water, although batch sparging does limit pH rise in the sparge. In traditional continuous (fly) sparging, you continually dilute the pH buffering ability of the grain, so it’s likely you’ll need to treat your water to maintain proper pH. Even in batch sparging, if you have extreme water, you may need to do some adjustment. But once you do, you have a lot more leeway with sparge temperature.

homebrew sparge

Another common misconception is that sparging with hotter water dilutes the sugar in the grain more, making it less viscous so it flows more easily and increases efficiency. Unfortunately, physics doesn’t seem to work like that. There’s a thing called the “limit of solubility,” which determines how much sugar can be dissolved in a liquid at a given temperature. Sugar solubility is not an issue in the mash or sparge. There is no solid sugar to be dissolved during the sparge, since the sugar is all in solution when it is created. The solubility of maltose in water at mash temperatures is about 66.7 % by weight (Maltose dissolves in water at a 2:1 ratio by weight—1 lb. maltose in 2 lb. water, 2 kg maltose in 4 kg water, and so on; reference), which is equivalent to a specific gravity (SG) in excess of 1.300. So unless the SG of your wort is over 1.300, there is no advantage to using hotter water to dissolve the sugars. Kai Troster has done experiments showing that even using cool (60° F/16° C) water to sparge will not adversely affect efficiency or beer quality, as has Ray Found of Brulosphy.com. I have also tested this repeatedly with the same results.

Some people have noted an increase in extraction by using hot sparge water and attributed it to the sugars being more soluble. In all likelihood, what they’re seeing is the last little bit of starch conversion happening due to the increased temperature. So, while sparging with hotter water may increase your efficiency, it’s not due to increased solubility. It’s due to increased conversion efficiency.

But let’s get real here. Aside from the curiosity of demonstrating that hot sparge water doesn’t matter, or as an emergency technique when for some reason you can’t heat the water, there’s no real advantage to using cool sparge water. You have to heat the wort to a boil anyway, and hotter water will get you there more quickly.

Hot Side Aeration (HSA)

There, I said it. Three of the most controversial words in homebrewing! This seems to be one of those things that originated in the commercial brewing world and got passed on to homebrewers. Twenty years ago, the conventional wisdom was to carefully avoid aerating wort when it was above 85° F (29° C). The rap was that it would accelerate staling, which can cause wet cardboard, metallic and, strangely, caramel flavors in your beer. The only time oxygen was supposedly not harmful was when the wort was chilled and ready for yeast. So homebrewers were careful to the point of paranoia.

But a funny thing happened when almost no one actually noticed the effects of hot side aeration on their homebrew. Commercial brewers were, and still are, usually careful to avoid it, although there a couple of notable exceptions. But at the homebrew level it just didn’t seem to happen. Luminaries like Dr. Charlie Bamforth said that HSA was not a problem. Eventually he and Randy Mosher, among others, reached the conclusion that it could be a problem, but at the homebrew level it was unlikely to rear its head and there were far more important things to worry about. A Brulosophy Exbeeriment found no difference between beers that had minimal hot side oxygen exposure and ones that had been heavily aerated on purpose.

So, what’s the takeaway here? My point of view is that hot side aeration is easy enough to avoid that you should try to not do it. That can be as simple as not pouring hot wort or using a piece of tubing when you collect mash runoff in the kettle. We all know that oxygen is the enemy of beer, so why not try to avoid it anywhere you can? But at the same time, don’t freak out about it.

Olive Oil

A few years ago, a guy named Grady Hull who worked at New Belgium Brewing wrote a paper about the possibility of using olive oil, rather than conventional aeration, to stimulate yeast growth. In a nutshell, the theory is that yeast cells use O2 to synthesize ergosterols, which keep cell walls flexible and ease the budding process for yeast cell growth. The thinking with olive oil is that you “cut out the middleman.” You add the oil, which does the same thing to cell walls. Now, homebrewers being homebrewers, they jumped on this technique as an easy, inexpensive alternative to aerating wort. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to pay attention to what Grady was really doing: using olive oil for yeast storage, not propagation in the fermenter. They also didn’t account for the infinitesimally small amount of olive oil needed. Most homebrewers who tried it reported things like “well, it didn’t hurt.” Neither does doing the Chicken Dance around your wort!

At Experimental Brewing, we decided to test the effectiveness of using olive oil in place of aeration. Four different brewers each split a batch of beer using olive oil “aeration” on one half and doing no aeration at all on the other half. The idea was to see the most dramatic difference possible. If olive oil “aeration” worked, we should see a marked difference between that and doing absolutely no aeration at all. The four brewers arranged blind triangle tastings with a total of 47 tasters. The results? Most tasters found no difference whatsoever in beer flavor. The brewers reported no differences in fermentation performance. The takeaway was that using olive oil for aeration was equivalent to doing no aeration at all. You can see the results for yourself at ExperimentalBrew.com.

Save your olive oil for salads!

Fly Sparging vs. Batch Sparging Efficiency

Batch Sparging VS Fly Sparging: Which is Best?

You will frequently hear people say that fly sparging yields better extraction efficiency than batch sparging. That’s true… in a perfect world! I don’t know about you, but I don’t live in a perfect world.

What I mean is that if you have a perfectly designed fly sparging system, and if you execute your process perfectly, theoretically you will achieve greater extraction by fly sparging. But those ifs are the problem. In reality, batch sparging will yield at least as high, if not higher, efficiency than fly sparging. When you batch sparge, variables like lauter tun design and sparge technique are removed from the process. In the real world, efficiency in excess of 80 to 85 percent is possible with batch sparging—pretty much the same as fly sparging. The decision of which to use should be based on your preferences and equipment choices, not efficiency concerns.

Fermentation Temperature

When you buy a package of yeast or look at a yeast company’s website, you see a list of recommended temperature ranges for each yeast strain. What a lot of homebrewers don’t realize is that those are only vague guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules! They often recommend temperatures higher than those that most homebrewers prefer. Yeast fermentation temperature can have a large impact on beer flavor, and in general, the warmer you ferment, the more impact it has. But that impact isn’t always desirable. As we all know, esters tend to increase at warmer temperatures. If you get too warm, the dreaded fusel alcohols can become a problem.

In general, most homebrewers prefer to at least begin fermentation at temperatures lower than the recommendations. Most esters and fusels are formed during the first 72 to 96 hours of fermentation. After that, you can safely raise the temperature to make the yeast more active and ensure complete fermentation.

Another myth floating around is to always start fermentation of Belgian styles at higher than normal temperatures. While some Belgian breweries do that, it is far more common for them to follow the fermentation schedule I described above, starting cool and finishing warmer.

My general recommendation would be to start your fermentation at, or a bit below, the lowest temperature recommended for the yeast. The exothermic reaction from fermentation will raise the temperature a bit, and after three or four days, you can safely let the fermentation temperature rise. If you find you’re not getting enough yeast character like that, just start a bit warmer the next time.

Along the same lines, the conventional wisdom is that lagers take a long time, sometimes months, at a low fermentation temperature. But there’s an old lager fermentation method, also used by commercial brewers, that has begun making itself known in the homebrew world. Using this method, you can have a lager in your glass in as little as two weeks after brewing it. Mike “Tasty” McDole was one of the first homebrewers to rediscover this method and begin talking about it. Since then, many of us have started using this method.

You can find more about it online or in the book Homebrew All-Stars (shameless plug), but the basic idea is to start your fermentation at 55° F (13° C). When the gravity drops 50 percent of the way to its expected terminal value, raise the temperature to 58° F (14° C). When it gets 75% of the way there, raise the temperature to 62° F (17° C). And then when it reaches 90%, raise to 66° F (19° C) and hold until the beer reaches your expected final gravity. You can have your delicious lager in two weeks rather than two months!

Liquid vs. Dry Yeast

This is another thing that has changed a lot over the last 20 years, but for some reason the old saw persists that liquid yeast is always better than dry yeast. The “always” in there should be a red flag! Years back, production techniques for dry yeasts were less sophisticated than they are today, and packets might have been lifeless or contaminated by the time homebrewers purchased and used them. These days, I’m happy to say things are much better, and there are some great dry yeasts out there. You can make your selection based on flavor, performance, and your preferred methods rather than simply whether the yeast is dry or liquid. A couple of my favorite lager yeasts are dry (Fermentis Saflager W-34/70 and S-189). Try a few dry strains and see what you think of them. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

* * *

So, there you have it: my partial list of “homebrew myths.” There are certainly more, and you may have run across a few yourself. Post ‘em below in the comments, and let’s get rolling on Homebrew Mythbusters!

Source and Comments: AHBA

Posted in beer | Leave a comment

Boil Hops, Not Extract

Working in a retail home beer and wine supply shop gives me the opportunity to talk to thousands of homebrewers and listen to their stories, both good and bad, about their brewing experiments.

Extract brewers sometimes ask me, “Why is my pale ale the darkness of an amber beer? Why is my IPA not as bitter as I want it? Why does my beer have a slightly burnt taste?” I believe that all three problems are related to the same procedure.

Like most extract homebrewers, my customers were boiling their malt syrup in only about 2–2.5 gallons of water when making a standard five-gallon batch of beer. The reasons for boiling the malt in a small amount of water are because most kitchen stoves and boiling pots are limited to about this amount. Some of the water evaporated while they were boiling their beer, so that the wort they were boiling was of a very high specific gravity — as high as 1.130. Boiling the syrup for 60 minutes in this high-sugar environment caused some of the malt sugars to be scorched on the bottom of the boiling pot, causing the “burnt malt extract” flavor in their beers. Boiling the malt sugar in such a thick concentration also increased the darkness of their beers.

The amount of hop bitterness extracted from hops during boiling is affected by both time and the thickness of the wort. The longer you boil hops, the more hop bitterness is extracted. After about 45 minutes, however, you begin to get a diminishing return. The thicker the wort that the hops are boiled in, the less hop bitterness is extracted. In a situation where you are boiling approximately 6.6 pounds of syrup in two gallons of water, your boiling gravity is nearly 1.100. In this situation, your hop extraction is roughly 75 percent of what you would achieve with a full boil, causing your beers to be less bitter than what you were shooting for, especially on beers that you wanted to be highly bittered.

The obvious answer was to ask all my customers to change their method and boil their malt and hops in just over five gallons of water for 60 minutes. After evaporation during the boil, they would end up with five gallons of beer. This “full-wort boil” is just what the commercial brewers do, and it is how they get the desired results in their beers.

Well, this is a great idea in theory, but a poor idea in practice for most homebrewers. This would mean that the brewer would have to obtain a larger boiling pot and a wort chiller (since you need to cool the beer from boiling down to at least 80° F to add the yeast). They may even need a propane burner, since their stovetop may not easily boil five-plus gallons of wort. Another hurdle is that it will take longer to bring this much liquid to a boil, if their stovetop has enough heating power to do this. I tried it once, and found that it took nearly 45 minutes to bring the beer up to a boil.

Some homebrewers are willing to spend the money for more cool brewing gadgets, but most just want to keep brewing simple and fun. So while this method is a great answer, it is not very practical for many homebrewers. Then the idea finally hit me like the hop aroma in a dry-hopped pale ale. Why not boil the hops, but not the malt syrup? By doing this, you extract the necessary bitterness from the hops, but avoid the pitfalls of boiling large amounts of malt extract in small amounts of water.

The Method

Begin by steeping a few pounds of crushed grain in about two to three gallons of hot water for about 30 minutes. Remove the grain with a strainer, then boil the grain “tea” and hops for 45 to 60 minutes. Add your finishing hops and malt extract at the end of the boil, immediately after you have turned off the heat source. The wort is at 212° F when the extract is then added, and the wort normally drops to around 170–180° F after the malt extract is added. To ensure pasteurization of the wort, let the wort stand for approximately five minutes. Then proceed as you normally would, adding the wort to cold water and pitching yeast when the wort is around 75–80° F.


One positive effect of this method is that you avoid the natural darkening effect caused by the boiling. You also avoid any carmelization of the malt sugars, and any scorching of the sugars to the bottom of your pot, resulting in a “burnt” flavor.

The specific gravity of the wort you are boiling the hops in is very low (1.005 to 1.025), containing only the sugars that the grains contribute, so you maximize the bitterness extracted from the hops you are using. It is now much easier to achieve bitterness levels above 30 IBUs. This method should allow you to make “lighter” colored beers and minimize any “malt extract” flavors. It also will allow you to make more highly-bittered beers.


There are primarily two negative effects that I am aware of at this time. The first is that, since you are boiling the Irish moss with only the malt sugars from the specialty grains, it is unclear how much the Irish moss will be effective in clearing proteins from your beer and giving you the maximum clarity in your finished product. My experiments seem to lean toward the beers clearing up quite well. I do not know of any negative effects of boiling the Irish moss without the malt, and since it is an inexpensive ingredient, I see no reason to leave it out.

The second negative effect is that you could potentially be missing out on some flavor compounds from the hops being boiled with the entire volume of malt. Since virtually all beer is made with the hops and malt being boiled together, there may be some flavor reactions that you would miss by using this method. Here I believe the effects are hard to determine, since this interaction is difficult to determine to start with. Maybe this is a topic for additional discussion amongst the homebrewing world. One compromise here may be to boil 25% to 50% of your extract with the hops, and the remainder at the end of the boil.

My experiments (and my customers’ experience) with using this method the past 8 to 10 months have been positive. In the local Clark County Fair homebrewing competition, one of my employees (Tom Sedlacek) entered an American Pale Ale he made using this method, and received the 4th highest score out of 64 beers in the competition. The recipe for this beer is in the sidebar on page 41.

This method should help more when you are trying to make lighter-colored beers and beers in which you are trying to achieve higher levels of bitterness. One change you will have to make in your recipes is to adjust the amount of bittering hops you use to about 25 percent less — or the amount normally used in all-grain beers.

Homebrewers thrive on experimentation, so go for it! Let me know how your experiments work out by emailing me your results at [email protected]. I am sure there are those who may not agree with this method, and I would love to hear from them to see if we can make even better homebrew!

Northwest Pale Ale

(5 gallons, partial mash)
OG: 1.050 FG: 1.014
IBU: 65 SRM: 15
(4th place overall, Clark County Fair homebrew competition 2002)


6.6 lbs. Coopers light malt syrup
1 lb. Munich malt (10° L)
1 lb. Great Western two-row pale malt
18 AAU Centennial hops (bittering)(2 oz. of 9% alpha acids)
5 AAU Cascade hops (flavor) (1 oz. of 5% alpha acids)
1 oz. Cascade hops (aroma)
1 tsp. Irish moss
White Labs WLP001 (California Ale) or Wyeast 1056 (American Ale) yeast
3/4 cup corn sugar (for bottling)

Step by step

Steep crushed grains (Munich malt and two-row malt) in two gallons of 150° F water for 30 minutes. Remove the grain from the hot water with a strainer, then bring wort to a boil. When boiling starts, add two ounces of Centennial hops and boil for 60 minutes. Add one ounce of Cascade hops and Irish moss with 15 minutes left in the boil. Add one ounce Cascade hops for last five minutes of the boil. Then turn the heat off and add your malt syrup. Stir to dissolve and let the wort stand for five minutes to sanitize. Cool the wort in your sink (or use a wort chiller) and siphon wort to fermenter. Aerate wort and pitch yeast. Let the beer ferment for four to seven days then rack to secondary fermenter. Let condition for three to seven days, then prime with corn sugar and bottle. Allow one to two weeks for bottle conditioning.

Bohemian (Czech) Pilsner

(5 gallons, partial mash)
OG: 1.049 FG: 1.014
IBU: 32 SRM: 7


6.6 lbs. Muntons light malt syrup
0.5 lb. crystal malt (20° L)
1 lb. Pilsner malt
0.5 lb. dextrin malt
10.5 AAU Saaz hops (45 minutes) (3 oz. of 3.5% alpha acids)
3.5 AAU Saaz hops (30 minutes) (1 oz. of 3.5% alpha acids)
3.5 AAU Saaz hops (15 minutes) (1 oz. of 3.5% alpha acids)
1 tsp. Irish moss
White Labs WLP800 (Pilsner) or Wyeast 2278 (Czech Pils) yeast
3/4 cup corn sugar (for bottling)

Step by step

Steep crushed malted grain in two gallons of 150° F water for 30 minutes. Remove the grain from the hot water with a strainer, then bring water to a boil. When boiling starts, add boiling hops and Irish moss and boil for 60 minutes. Add second addition of hops for last 30 minutes of the boil. Add third addition of hops for last 15 minutes of the boil. Fill your sanitized carboy with two gallons of cold water. Then turn the heat off and add your malt syrup, then stir to dissolve and let stand for five minutes to sanitize. Strain the hot wort into the carboy and top off to the five-gallon mark. Add yeast when beer is less than 75° F, aerate the beer and pitch your yeast. Leave beer at room temperature until fermentation begins (about 24 hours), then cool and ferment at 50–55º F. Cooler temperatures cause fermentation to go slower, about three to four weeks. Bottle as usual and enjoy!

Source: byo

Posted in beer | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sour Beer Do’s and Dont’s

Few things get a beer geek ready to talk your ear off than name-dropping a sour beer or two. Sour beers are more of a distinct continent on Planet Beer than a style as there are many styles of sour and/or wild ales.  It’s a world countless homebrewers want to dive into, but also one they may find a little intimidating. Between strange microbes, lengthy fermentation times, the risk of contaminating your equipment you’d be forgiven for thinking that brewing sours is difficult.

The good news is, brewing sours isn’t all that much different than brewing any other beer. You brew, you pitch, you wait, you package. The only thing different are the details. Consider some of the DO’S and DON’TS below and you’ll find yourself navigating the slightly offbeat world of wild ales in no time.

Homebrewing has come a long way over the years, and there are now means of making quick sours that don’t require the extensive aging and wild fermentation traditionally used in making these beers. This piece, however, is going to be focused on traditional, longer-term sour ales. Quick methods of souring are for another article.

We would also be remiss if we did not clarify what kind of article this is. This is not “How To Brew Sour Beers,” nor is it intended to be a highly technical piece. This piece assumes you know the basics of beer brewing. Instead, consider it a “Helpful Tips” piece to either get you started on the right foot or to make adjustments to your already existing sour pipeline. So with that out of the way, let’s get into some tips that will help you improve your sour brewing game.

DO: Be Prepared For The Long Haul If You Plan on Making Traditional Sours

Brewing sour beer the traditional way, i.e. by pitching bugs like lactobacillus and pediococcus and letting them do their thing, is not for the impatient. You thought waiting a few weeks for your latest IPA was unbearable? Better steel yourself for sour brewing, because traditional sours can take anywhere from six months to a few years to be ready to drink. In most cases, homebrewers will fall within the six-month to one year mark, and may even be able to turn one around in three or so months, but if you’re trying something more ambitious, like a lambic-style beer, you’ll have to wait and see as things develop over time.

DON’T: Believe That All Sours Take Time

Traditional sours take time, but innovative homebrewers are finding ways to scratch the sour itch without taking a lot of time. Usually centering on styles like Berliner weisse (a favorite of this writer) and Gose, techniques like kettle souring, sour mashing, and even directly adding lactic acid can dramatically cut down turnaround times and get your mouth puckering much quicker than traditional methods would.

DO: Be Willing To Fail

Any adventurous brewer must be willing to fail, and when dealing with beers as finicky as sours, being prepared to face failure is an absolute must. You’ll often be dealing with blends of yeasts and bacteria rather than a single strain, which under certain conditions can take sour ales in unexpected directions. Dialing in the desired amount of sourness, funkiness, and tartness can sometimes be a challenge, and occasionally all those happy microbes can take a left turn and spin your beer into a musky, foul-smelling mess. It happens. Plus, it’s far more difficult to predict what unusual ingredients (spices, flavoring, etc.) are going to taste like on the other side of the souring process. Be prepared for some ups and downs.

DON’T: Try Wild Open Fermentation (Unless You’re Prepared for the Risks)

Create small test batches if you try a beer with wild yeast. Then harvest that (if successful) for a full sized batch

Create small test batches if you try a beer with wild yeast. Then harvest that (if successful) for a full sized batch

The open fermentation methods used by some European brewers are pretty incredible. Seemingly no protection from what’s floating around in the air, which is the polar opposite of what we learn to do as homebrewers, yet the beer that results is amazing. There is something alluring about the idea of letting Mother Nature have her way with your wort. It seems like magic, and indeed, the beer that results when Belgian brewers do it often is magic, but don’t get fooled into thinking you can throw a bucket out onto your back porch and get similar results. It’s important to remember that the microbes in the air in your region are NOT the same microbes that run wild in the sour beer capitals of the world. Further, their tanks and facilities and equipment are practically swimming in perfect little bugs that produce the wonderful beers we love so much. It’s essentially “pre-infected” with time-tested bugs. Yours, alas, is not.

None of this is to say you shouldn’t try your hand at a wild open fermentation. I am an advocate of breaking the rules and getting creative. Just be sure you understand that the most likely result is a batch of beer that is funky in all the wrong ways. If you do decide to roll the dice and see what’s floating around your yard, create a very small batch (half a gallon small), cover it with cheesecloth, and allow it to sit outdoors overnight, preferably in a screened in porch or similar location. After one night, bring it inside, cover, and allow fermentation to complete as normal. If it turns out well, pitch it into a slightly larger batch and grow the culture up. This allows you to experiment more without having the high cost of a 5 gallon batch going south.

DO: Pitch Standard Brewer’s Yeast

If you want a balanced, complex sour that has the best chance possible of turning into a beer you’ll enjoy drinking for months (or years!) to come, don’t rely solely on lambic blends and the like. Instead, pitch traditional brewer’s yeast first. Let it do its thing for 5-7 days, then pitch your sour blend. The sour bugs will chew up the sugars standard brewer’s yeast doesn’t get to, giving your sour ale the kind of balance that will keep your friends coming back for more. You can solely pitch sour bugs – this writer has done it – but your results will generally be better with a mixed fermentation method.

DON’T: Use Just One Type of “Bug”

This one is simple: When starting out you’ll always get better results with blends. Yes, you can pitch just a single strain if you want, but there is a reason why the best commercial brewers pitch specialized blends. Because it works. The good news is, you don’t have to create your own blends. Most of the top brewing yeast distributors offer a variety of sour and wild ale blends that will allow you to recreate an array of styles in the sour category, some modeled after popular commercial brews.

DO: Take Precautions to Avoid Oxygen Exposure During Aging

While I have and do use buckets to brew sours, carboys are your friend. Your enemy? Anything that increases oxygen exposure to your future sour (which buckets do). This is true of all fermenting beers, of course, but in sours it’s especially vital to avoid oxygen exposure because several of the bugs that give them their wonderfully funkiness and tartness utilize oxygen to produce acetic acid. Acetic acid creates a vinegar-like aroma and flavor, which may be desirable in small doses depending on the style (think Rodenbach, for instance) but could be an absolute disaster in others (such as a Berliner). These bugs thrive on oxygen. Too much and you’re brewing some really awful vinegar, not beer. Therefore, minimize sampling and gravity readings to once a month, purge with CO2 if possible when you do take a sample, ensure your airlocks are well filled, and if you can avoid buckets, do so. You’ll get a better beer as a result.

DON’T: Use High-Alpha Hop Strains

Sour Beers 05

If possible, get your hands on aged whole cone hops when brewing traditional wild/sour ales. It’s how the masters do it.

For the vast majority of sours, you want low-impact hops with minimal hop flavor and aroma. Keep the Simco and Citra for your hop bombs. Instead, use a simple bittering hop like Tettnanger or Hersbrucker. If you want to get really traditional, use aged whole cone hops. They should be at least a year or two old, past the stage when they smell a little “green” and musty.

DO: Understand the Many Flavor Profiles of Sour Ales

As alluded to earlier, sour ales are often mistakenly referred to as a “style,” but in fact they represent a whole array of styles, and those styles can have dramatically different flavor profiles from one another. Bright, tart, crisp, sour, funky, musky, vinegar-tinged, sweet, candy-like, Earthy, chocolate-kissed. It’s a big umbrella with a lot of variety beneath it. Drink widely, learn what separates one sour from another, and you’ll get a better sense for the types of sours you want to brew.

DON’T: Use Your Usual Plastic Equipment

Once you’ve used your plastic gear for a batch of sour ale, say goodbye, man, because it’s gone. Yes, you’ll occasionally hear someone tell you that they have successfully gone back and forth between sour ales and standard beers with plastic gear thanks to their amazing cleaning and sanitation skills. That’s great for them, but is it a risk you really want to take? Plastic equipment can get tiny cuts and nicks and gouges that create a fantastic place for bugs to sit and wait for your next batch of beer. Suddenly, all your beers will be souring whether you like it or not! Bottling wands, tubing, plastic buckets, and so on – once used for a wild ale, they can be a ticking time bomb. Which leads to our next item…

DO: Re-purpose Old Gear For Sour Brewing

Let’s face it, we homebrewers tend to accumulate equipment like a 19-year-old with a Mustang accumulates speeding tickets. I have more bits of gear than I can ever hope to use. You probably do, too. A great way to make use of your old and neglected gear is to re-purpose it for sours. Have a bottling bucket that is a little long in the tooth? Turn it into your sour bottling bucket. Some carboys you don’t use anymore? Airlocks that have seen better days? Re-purpose them.

Side note: When I switch old gear and convert it to sour brewing gear, I’m sure to mark it clearly and loudly to ensure I don’t accidentally mix them up, and I don’t store the gear together or stack it with “normal” brewing gear. You should probably do the same. No need to risk cross-contamination.

DO: Harvest Yeast From Commercial Beers

When you start down the sour-brewing road, a great resource available to you are the dregs from your favorite commercial sours. Good instinct! You can get wonderfully hardy, complex bugs from bottled beers that are ideal for brewing your own sours. Just keep in mind that not all sours are created alike, and not all commercial sours are suitable for harvesting. Also, try using these as additions to a sour blend you’ve already pitched. This way you aren’t relying on a small culture of bugs to do all the work, and instead they play a complementary role.

Specifically, most Flanders Reds you see are pasteurized; you won’t get viable dregs from them. This includes Rodenbach and Duchess. The sweet, fruity lambics from brewers like Lindemans and Liefmans are similarly not suitable. While some American brewers like Allagash and Ommegang offer fine potential for dreg harvesting, others (such as New Glarus) do not. So before diving in, do some research, do some experimenting, and understand that some beers just aren’t right for this – but many are!

DO: Create a Sour “Pipeline”

Sour Beers 04

Creating a pipeline of sours is the best way to ensure you always have some fresh lactic acid goodness on hand.

Brewing sours the traditional way can take a long time. It’s easy to get impatient when you have six months or a year between batches. Best way to beat the “Where’s My Beer?” blues is to create a sour pipeline. Brew a batch, a short time later (a month to two months) brew another, and so on. As soon as you bottle that first, another will be on its way shortly. Once you get a steady rotation in place, rotating between three or four sour brews, you’ll never want for lactic acid goodness again. If you have some older brew buckets lying around that you rarely use – and don’t we all? – go ahead and dedicate them to your sour pipeline.

DON’T: Bottle Until Your Gravity Has Been Stable For At Least A Month

This is absolutely vital! The little critters that funk up your wort chew up far more sugary goodness than standard brewer’s yeast does, eating up things your normal yeast would pass by. If you want to avoid bottle bombs, don’t be in a rush to package. You want a stable gravity reading for at least a month. Sometimes sours can creep along in their final stages, taking a few weeks to peel back a mere point or so on your FG. The last thing you want to do is to risk having that take place inside a sealed bottle, for reasons I should hope are obvious.

DO: Have Fun

This is the most important tip of all. Just enjoy yourself. Homebrewing should be fun and rewarding. Your sour adventures will have some ups and downs, but ultimately it’s not much different than brewing any other type of beer. There is a lot more ground to cover – this is a huge enough topic so that this article could have been twice as long, easy – so if you’re truly excited about creating your own sour ales at home, you’ll be glad to know there are some outstanding writers and bloggers out there devoted to the topic. Seek them out, do some reading, and happy brewing!

Source: homeBrewTalks

Posted in beer | Leave a comment

Using Hop Extracts for Beer Brewing

Hop extracts have the potential to revolutionize many aspects of both commercial and home brewing. While bittering extracts have been used for many years by large commercial brewers, we are now seeing a new generation of hop extracts entering the craft and home brewing markets.

Types of Hop Extracts

Hop extract typically consists of concentrated hop oils. The first hop extracts centered around concentrating and preserving alpha acids – as these provide the bulk of the bitterness in beer. By concentrating the oils it is possible to preserve them longer than a season which allowed hop growers and commercial brewers to preserve excess production from one season to the next. The highly concentrated oils also take up less space.

At the top level there are three basic types of hop extracts. The first called CO2 extract. CO2 extraction is a method for extracting and preserving the alpha acids along with many of the hop oils in a concentrated form that can be used much like the original hops. You can think of CO2 extract as simply concentrated hops. They are most often used in the boil, and behave much like hops would in the boil except they are concentrated to a level of 35-70% alpha acid.

A second type of hop extract is called Isomerized extract or ISO-extract. Isomerized extract (often called Isomerized Kettle Extract or IKE) also contains alpha acids but these have already gone through the transformation that takes place when we boil hops – called isomerization. You can think of these almost like pre-boiled hop extract. The isomerized alpha acids add bitterness directly to the beer, so you can add these at any stage in the brewing process. Isomerized alpha acids are most often used after fermentation to adjust the bitterness of a finished beer. You can even add them at bottling time “to taste” to get the flavor you want. These too are highly concentrated – often containing 50-70% alpha acid.

A third, and newer type of hop extract is hop oil extract. Hop oil extracts are typically distilled and concentrated to preserve the delicate hop oils we associate most often with whirlpool or dry hopping. Hop oils most often focus on the four major essential hop oils (Myrcene, Humulene, Caryophellene and Farnesene), but specific hop oils can now be bought that emphasize a particular single oil or flavor. Care needs to be taken when purchasing and using hop oils to make sure you get the oils you want and also the proper dosage, as it can be easy to “over-do” it.

Using CO2 Hop Extract

The most widely available hop extracts for home brewers are CO2 extracts. These include popular products sold under brand names such as “Hopshot”, “Hop Jizz”, and commercial CO2 hop resins sold in 100 ml cans. For home brewers, these are often packaged in 10 ml syringes, with dosages measured in milliliters. While alpha content can vary, the most popular brands have an alpha content of approximately 60-65%. CO2 extracts preserve much of the original hop aroma, and are a suitable replacement for traditional hops.

CO2 extracts are not isomerized, so you need to boil them just like regular hops to get bitterness. To estimate the bitterness added, you can treat them as a regular hop addition with an alpha content equal to their alpha concentration. For the popular brands this is 60-65% alpha, so I might add a new “Hopshot” hop entry with 65% alpha acid to develop a recipe.

For simplicity you can use the approximate density of 1 gram for 1 ml of hop extract. So adding 1 ml or 1 gram of 65% alpha extract boiled for 60 minutes to a 1.050 OG beer gives around 10 IBUs depending on your exact equipment losses and equation used.

Using Isomerized Hop Extract

Isomerized hop extract requires no boiling and adds bitterness no matter where it is added in the brewing process. Most often it is added after fermentation to adjust the bitterness of a finished beer, but it can be added post-boil or even earlier. When adjusting your beer you can even add it “to taste”. One disadvantage of isomerized hop extract is that it does not include much in the way of hop aroma, so you need to consider other aroma products or use iso-extract as a supplement to regular hops. Isomerized extract is also relatively expensive compared to hops or other extracts.

Again, for home brewing we are dealing most often with a few milliliters of hop extract, and isomerized alpha content of 50-70%. However the utilization of this alpha acid is 100% since the alpha acids are already isomerized.

Version 2.3 of BeerSmith will include calculations for this , but basically you can estimate the alpha content directly by calculating the IBUs added. Recall that 1 IBU is 1 mg/liter of alpha acid, and since we have 100% utilization of the alpha acid we can calculate alpha acid directly (approximating density 1 ml = 1000 mg):

IBU = (extract_vol_ml * alpha_content_pct * 1000) / (volume_beer_liters)

So for example 1 ml of 60% iso-alpha extract in a 20 liter (just over 5 gallon) batch would give IBU = (1 * .6 * 1000) / 20 = 30 IBUs

Hop Oil (Aroma) Extracts

While hop aroma oil extracts are not widely available to home brewers, they are being used at the commercial level often to enhance a particular aroma or flavor. For example you might want to enhance a citrus or piney flavor’/aroma by selecting an extract of certain hop oils (like myrcene). Since these products are distilled to preserve specific hop oils or sets of hop oils, their concentration and usage varies widely. As the hop oils are volatile and can be lost by boiling, these extracts are most often added post-boil or after fermentation.

Since they are not designed to preserve bitterness (alpha acids) there is no simple measure or formula for their use. Instead they are often used in very small quantities on test batches until the desired hop aroma/flavor is achieved. I would use these very sparingly “to taste” until you gain more experience with them.

The new version of BeerSmith has support for the first two types of extracts (CO2 and isomerized) so you can create hop entries for extracts and use them in recipes. To enter a new hop extract, enter the name and correct type and then set the alpha content equal to the percentage of alpha acid – typically 50-70% for CO2 extracts and a bit less for isomerized extract. In most cases you can get this number from the supplier.

Source: beerSmith

Related Beer Brewing Articles from BeerSmith:

Posted in beer | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Best Napa Valley Wineries to Visit

Alpha Omega

This family-owned winery on the main tourist route along Highway 29 has made its name with high-end single-vineyard Cabernets from famous vineyards like To-Kalon and Beckstoffer Dr. Crane. The rustic-chic, barn-like tasting room offers current releases for $30, or Red Selections for $50; there are also private tastings by appointment. Arrive in nice weather and sip on the panoramic terrace. aowinery.com

Beaulieu Vineyard

One of the oldest producers in the valley, BV offers tours of the original winery building, which dates back to 1885. These are followed by barrel samples of Cabernet and a stop in the new Heritage Room, which chronicles the history of wine in Napa. bvwines.com


One of the top large wineries in the world, Beringer has long done an exceptional job of producing a substantial volume of reliably high-quality wine, from the entry level bottlings to the often extraordinary Private Reserves. Its impressive, 1884 fieldstone Rhine House, housing the tasting room, is a Napa Valley landmark. There are various tasting and tour options; try the $45 Taste of Beringer Tour, which includes a barrel sampling in the old, hand-dug caves and a guided, sit-down tasting. beringer.com

Black Stallion

Visitors can assess leaf shape and cluster size and otherwise analyze 17 grape varieties in the demonstration vineyard here. Try the Syrah and Cabernet with flatbreads in the tasting room ($25). blackstallionwinery.com

Buehler Vineyards

The nicely understated Cabs at this family-owned vineyard are some of the valley’s best values. Plus, private tours and tastings are hosted by the Buehler family. buehlervineyards.com

Cade Estate

The views of the valley floor are glorious from this super-sustainable, LEED Gold–certified winery, located on Howell Mountain. Guests can taste Cade’s superb Sauvignon Blanc in its chic outdoor living room. cadewinery.com


Cakebread, a familiar sight on Highway 29 in Rutherford, was one of the moving forces behind Napa’s revival in the 1970s, and scored a runaway success with its luscious style of Chardonnay, plus full-flavored reds. Cakebread (it’s the family name, by the way, not a wine descriptor) is serious about its guest experience, and offers a range of tastings, tours, educational experiences and food pairings. cakebread.com


This sleek new winery in St. Helena owned by two former software executives is a destination in itself, with the Brasswood Bar + Kitchen serving “Wine country comfort food” Wednesdays through Sundays, the Rosgal Gallery (call ahead), and of course the tasting room itself, plus the clubby Winemaker’s Den private room, available by appointment. cairdeanestate.com


Caymus’ velvety, full-throttle Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon was among Napa’s first “cult Cabernets” back in the 1970s, and it’s still going strong under the third generation of the Wagner family to run the operation. Visitors to their beautiful old fieldstone winery, tucked away off Conn Creek Rd. pay a $50 per person tasting fee to sample five wines produced by the Wagner family (who also make Conundrum, and Mer Soleil among other labels). caymus.com


This is the oldest winery on Pritchard Hill, a stunning, high-elevation area known for producing some of Napa’s best Cabs. Chappellet’s extensive 90-minute Vineyard Tour and Tasting includes a walk through the organic vineyards and a seated tasting of new releases. chappellet.com

Chateau Montelena

This winery is famous as a locale of the movie Bottle Shock, a fictionalized account of the famous 1976 Judgement of Paris tasting, when Montelena’s Chardonnay upset a roster of great French wines. The Chardonnay is still very worthy, but most visitors will arrive at Montelena’s gorgeously sited, 19th century stone château thirsty for the famous Cabernets and Zinfandels. There are numerous tasting and tour experiences on tap, from the $25 current release tasting (reserve ahead) on up. montelena.com

Clif Family Winery

The Clif family is becoming as well known for wine as for energy bars. Rent a road bike ($120) from the Velo Vino tasting room and do the 24-mile Cold Springs Loop, past Clif’s organic farm and vineyards, with espresso before and a wine tasting after. Clif Family Winery has also introduced a food truck, The Clif Family Bruschetteria, which is typically parked outside their tasting room. The truck serves numerous variations of bruschetta along with other Northern Italy–inspired fare. Much of the produce is sourced directly from the Clif Family Farm. cliffamilywinery.com

Cliff Lede

Each of Cliff Lede’s 39 vineyard blocks is named for a rock song. Get a backstage pass for access to limited production wines, including “High Fidelity” and “Rock Block” offerings. The lounge also features rotating art exhibits. Prior reservation required. cliffledevineyards.com

Clos du Val

For many years this foundational Stags Leap District winery was known for an austere style favored by its fans, but at odds with many of its neighbors. Now under a new regime, the winery began, with the superb 2012 vintage, to produce reds in a richer, more velvety style that, as the winery puts it, “embraces the Napa Valleyness” of the wines. You can taste the evolution at the lovely winery in a variety of settings—there are picnic tables, pre-reserved private cabanas, and a just-drop-in tasting room with four current releases on offer for $25. closduval.com


Make an appointment to taste through library samples of older vintages of winemaker Cathy Corison’s fantastic Cabernet Sauvignons. Tasting flights include our current release and selected library vintages, available exclusively at the winery. corison.com

Domaine Carneros

Founded by Champagne Taittinger in 1989, Domaine Carneros’s impressive, largely solar-powered château amid the rolling hills on Route 12 was modeled on Taittinger’s Château de la Marquetterie back in France. You must reserve ahead for even the basic ($30) tasting. But it is worth it, both for the educational experience (the $40 tour, offered three times a day, takes you from the vineyard to the cellar), and for the laid-back atmosphere—you can sip away at a table on the terrace with its sweeping vineyard views. Top-notch bubbly is the thing here, but the still wines are lovely as well. domainecarneros.com

Domaine Chandon

Domaine Chandon is one of the few wineries in Napa Valley with a food menu to complement its sparkling wine list. Purchase wine buy the flight, glass or bottle then settle into the festive patio or find a quiet spot in an Adirondack on the expansive lawn under the oak trees. chandon.com


Duckhorn, one of the pioneers of Napa’s modern era, first struck gold with Merlot, notably its famous luxury bottling from Three Palms Vineyard, which remains its flagship. The winery also has a following for palate-flattering Cabs and Sauvignon Blancs. Though the main portfolio tends toward the expensive, there are more affordable wines well worth enjoying under the Decoy and Canvasback labels. Reserve ahead and taste five current releases for $30, or opt for various limited bottle tastings. duckhorn.com


Etude’s deck is idyllic, with bright white umbrellas and tastings of excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs. etudewines.com


It’s a little strange that Failla even allows visitors, considering how sought-after its wines are. Ehren Jordan, one of Napa’s most lauded winemakers, often hangs out with guests in his courtyard. Taste single-vineyard Pinots (made with grapes from around the state) in the restored farmhouse or 15,000-square-foot cave. faillawines.com

Far Niente

At $65 per person, this tour and tasting may actually be one of the best bargains in the Valley. The fieldstone winery, an 1885 National Register landmark was lavishly restored by the Nickel family, who own the property, dug its famous wine caves and planted its lovely gardens. The tour takes it all in, but the wines themselves are the real draw. The guided tasting, with a cheese pairing, includes the luxury priced current release Cabernet and Chardonnay—the only wines Far Niente makes—plus library wines and culminates with a taste of lusciously sweet late harvest Dolce, from the winery’s sister project. farniente.com

Flora Springs

If you’ve driven up Highway 29 into St. Helena you’ve surely seen the Las Vegas-worthy, wavy façade (a cutaway soil profile?) of Flora Spring’s multi-venue tasting room, which is a lovely, drop-in tasting room inside (with some premium tastings requiring reservations.) But it’s also worth bushwhacking a bit off the main drag to the actual winery, a once-abandoned 19th-century stone structure that is also home to the family proprietors. You’ll need an appointment to access its slate of tours and experiences. florasprings.com

Frank Family Vineyards

Proprietor Rich Frank’s résumé as one of Hollywood’s long-running inside players includes nearly a decade as president of Walt Disney Studios. His historic Calistoga winery has a notable history of its own—it is on the site of the old Kornell Champagne Cellars and the 19th-century Larkmead before that. The pretty frame house that serves as the tasting room offers a four-wine tasting, including one of the Cabernets that have quickly put Frank on the map; the $30 tasting includes its often-overlooked, but excellent artisan sparkling wine. frankfamilyvineyards.com

Grgich Hills Estate

Creamy, full-flavored Chardonnays were this Napa icon’s first signatures, and are still the standard-bearers—the basic $20 tasting flight is all Chardonnay—but visitors to this easy-going valley-floor winery (Hills is a partner’s name, not a geographical description) should be sure to get a taste of the lively Fumé Blanc, or the graceful, medium-rich Cab or Zinfandel to get the winery’s approach to making wines of finesse. grgich.com


Winemaker Stéphane Vivier, a French expat, uses Burgundian winemaking techniques, like fermenting in enormous French foudres and meticulously sorting grapes after harvest, to make his fantastic Carneros Chardonnays. HdV’s on-site sommelier, Eddie Townsend, leads guests through the cellar. hdvwines.com

Heitz Cellar

When your palate is tired out from tasting dozens of Cabernets, try this fantastic 52-year-old winery. It has Cab, too, but it is definitely the only winery in Napa making floral, strawberry-scented and light-bodied Grignolino, an obscure Italian variety. heitzcellar.com


The elegant, ivy-covered Inglenook Château is a Napa icon, dating back to the 1800s; it was purchased from the Niebaum family by Francis Ford Coppola in 1975. Small-group tours ($50) end with a seated tasting paired with artisanal cheeses. Afterward, stop by the perfectly curated shop for tabletop pieces from designers like William Yeoward and L’Objet pour Fortuny. inglenook.com

Long Meadow Ranch

All of the tastings here include samples of the estate’s wonderful olive oils, too. Reserve a spot for the Chef’s Table ($125), which occurs in a private room and is served with wine pairings. Dishes from chef Tim Mosblech are tailored to the wines, from Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet. longmeadowranch.com

Louis M. Martini

This 80-year-old winery continues to make exceptional, value-driven Cabernet from both Sonoma and Napa for every vintage. Its tasting room offers a rotating selection of 10 wines. louismartini.com


Twenty small California wineries offer tastings at the Ma(i)sonry collective. Guests can taste from whichever wineries they choose in whichever setting they prefer, from a steampunk-art gallery to a contemporary sculpture garden to a blanket on the lawn. maisonry.com

Newton Vineyard

The vineyard tour of Newton’s sustainably farmed property on Spring Mountain is epically beautiful. Wander through classical English gardens, ride around in a six-wheeler, then look out over all of Napa from beside Pino Solo (a lone pine at the peak of the estate), while tasting three of Newton’s wines. At $85, it’s expensive but still a great value. newtonvineyard.com

Odette Estate

A high-style, new Stag’s Leap winery from the high-profile team (Gordon Getty, Gavin Newsom and Napa Valley veteran John Conover) behind PlumpJack and Cade, this is a gorgeous contemporary winery in a dramatic location under the Stags Leap Palisades. Make an appointment to taste the extraordinary, top-level Cabernet Sauvignon (though taking a bottle home will cost you in the triple digits). odetteestate.com

Opus One

The late Robert Mondavi and the late Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Bordeaux’s Château Mouton Rothschild (and managed today by Mouton) modeled this groundbreaking Napa Valley joint venture winery after a grand cru Bordeaux, albeit one with eye-catching contemporary architecture. The focus here, as back in Bordeaux, is on a single, high-end Cabernet-based blend. You can sample the current vintage by appointment for $45, but the 90-minute tour in a four-person group is well worth the experience at $75. opusonewinery.com

Orin Swift

In addition to making bold red blends, Dave Phinney creates the labels for his bottlings and even designed his brand-new tasting room. Phinney used rustic reclaimed materials, like pickle barrels and bleacher seats, and brilliantly incorporated a gold-leaf painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who also makes an appearance on his Veladora Sauvignon Blanc bottle, in a window. orinswift.com


Everything about Paul and Betty Wooll’s secluded, Cabernet-focused winery is state of the art, from the glass-and-stone cellar to the 11,000-square-foot cave drilled into the side of Howell Mountain. Yet the building manages to blend into its natural surroundings. oshaughnessywinery.com

Pine Ridge

For its 5×5 Tasting, winemaker Michael Beaulac and chef Susan Lassalette worked together to pair the winery’s five estate Cabernet Sauvignons (from five different appellations) with five small dishes, like walnut-cranberry bread with duck rillette or lamb merguez on gougères. pineridgevineyards.com


Just off the Silverado Trail in Rutherford, the Quintessa winery is barely visible from the road—it’s built into the hillside. Quintessa only releases one Bordeaux-style blend every year, but visitors have the chance to taste a three-vintage vertical of wine paired with cheese. quintessa.com

Raymond Vineyards

International wine mogul Jean-Charles Boisset has injected new life into this Napa Valley mainstay since he purchased it in 2009, and has taken it generally upmarket, lead by the flagship Generations Cabernet Sauvignon. He has also turned Raymond into one of the Valley’s most impressive visitors’ destinations, with a range of innovative programs like Winemaker for A Day (blend your own Cabernet), Theater of Nature (a presentation of biodynamic farming on a two-acre demonstration plot), and the Corridor of the Senses (which conveys wine textures and aromas). raymondvineyards.com

Robert Craig Winery

Robert Craig’s Tasting Salon, in downtown Napa on the Napa River, is centrally located, but for a more thrilling experience, sign up for its Howell Mountain Experience. It takes guests up to the nine-and-a-half-acre vineyard site above the fog line at an elevation of 2,300 feet. robertcraigwine.com

Robert Mondavi

To visit Napa without a stop at Robert Mondavi’s mission-style winery in Oakville is to miss a significant piece of wine history. To celebrate Robert Mondavi’s 100th birthday, the winery just installed a tasting bar in its Vineyard Room, which also acts as a gallery for guest artists. robertmondaviwinery.com

Robert Sinskey Vineyards

The Perfect Circle Tours at Robert Sinskey Vineyards starts with a walk through the organic garden, a glass of wine in hand. It ends with a tasting and small bites, often from a wood-fired oven, by F&W Best New Chef 1996 Maria Helm Sinskey. They occur twice daily and are reservation only. robertsinskey.com


Ambitious pioneers David Graves and Dick Ward helped prove that the Carneros region above San Francisco Bay wasn’t just sheep grazing land: With its warm afternoons and cool breezes, it was ideal territory for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Their winery off Route 121, Saintsbury (named for a legendary English connoisseur) is an ideal place to experience the Carneros, a few miles but sometimes seemingly a world away from central Napa. Book a reservation (required) and enjoy the seated, $30 five-wine tasting in the gardens or—depending on the weather—in the cellar. saintsbury.com


A visit here includes a sampling of four sparkling wines (served at the White House on numerous occasions), a tour of the 125-year-old caves and a lesson in Champagne’s méthode traditionelle. schramsberg.com


It’s nearly impossible to buy Shafer’s coveted Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon unless you’re on the mailing list, but every guest who books a visit to the winery can purchase up to two bottles after tasting four of its signature red wines. shafervineyards.com

Spring Mountain Vineyard

A picturesque property with old olive trees, rose gardens and wonderful views high above Napa Valley, Spring Mountain is a modern combination of several 19th-century vineyard properties, and uses the impressive, wedding-cake Victorian Miravalle mansion for its hosted, sit-down tastings. All the tastings, including the $40, 45-60 minute, five-wine tasting include the top-of-the-line Bordeaux blend Elivette. Note that Spring Mountain requires 24-hours notice for reservations. springmountainvineyard.com


The hospitality room is in a sweet cottage among the vines. Tours take in the gardens, a pre-Prohibition stone cellar and the winery, where visitors can taste the great Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc. spottswoode.com

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Since 1971, Stag’s Leap has poured samples of its fantastic Cabernets in a tasting room down the road from the vineyards that produce the wine. But next summer, the winery will open a new building and visitor center, designed by Barcelona architect Javier Barba, with floor-to-ceiling views of its vineyards as the centerpiece. cask23.com

Stony Hill Vineyard

This is the opposite of the packed, big winery tasting rooms. The McCrea family’s artisan winery tucked away high on Spring Mountain is one of California wine’s hidden treasures. Visits here (by reservation; $45) are personal—chances are a family member or longtime winemaker Mike Chelini himself will walk you around the place and pour your wine in the ranch house. The Chardonnay’s, defiantly non-oaky, non-buttery, are among California’s very finest, from vines planted in 1947. But the newly offered Cabernet Sauvignon is superb as well. stonyhillvineyard.com


Alexis Swanson Traina’s playful Sip Shoppe (designed by Andy Spade) is a grown-up version of a candy shop, complete with red-and-white-striped walls and drawings of circus animals. Here, Cabernets and Merlots are poured in Dixie-cup-shaped glasses and served with warm pistachios. swansonvineyards.com


A stylish winery run by stylish people, this valley floor, family operation is the largest contiguous single-owner vineyard in Napa Valley—a sprawling 600 acres centered on the 19th-century Eschol estate in the Oak Knoll District. The August 2014 earthquake damaged the historic building that typically houses the tasting room. While it’s under repair, the winery’s two tastings, the Classic ($25) and limited-release Reserve ($35), are being conducted in temporary quarters. trefethen.com


A Taste of Terroir allows guests to try Cabernets from four vineyard sites in a stylish space, created by local interior design celebrity Erin Martin. trincheronapavalley.com


Truchard makes 15 small-batch bottlings of Cabernet, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, several of which are available only in its tasting room. Tours here (sometimes led by a Truchard family member) take guests around the vineyards and wine caves, including samples of four wines along the way. truchardvineyards.com


Whetstone’s new tasting room is situated in a real live Napa Valley château built in 1885. Sit around a big stone fireplace and taste its current-release Chardonnays and Syrah while snacking on rosemary almonds. whetstonewinecellars.com

Whitehall Lane

The Leonardini family’s high-quality winery has remained surprisingly under many wine lovers’ radar. But those who linger awhile at the tasting room off Highway 29 south of St. Helena can taste their portfolio of wines—notably the Cabernets and Merlots—offered at realistic prices. An easy-does-it drop in tasting of four wines is just $15, but those with more time should consult the website for a roster of options, including tastings outdoors in the vineyards. whitehalllane.com

source: foodAndWine

Posted in Travel | Leave a comment

6 Top Free VPNs for Chrome Users

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are becoming increasingly popular. They have hundreds of uses, from companies or organizations that want to provide functionality to their work-from-home employees, or regular Internet users who want to circumnavigate geo-blocking restrictions.

Recently, Opera decided to offer a free VPN within the browser for all its users. If you’re a Chrome user, you probably want something similar you can use within your favorite browser.

There are lots of paid VPN options available, but there are also some really good free ones, especially for Google Chrome users.

Here are six of the best Chrome VPNs for you to check out.

Note: If you are using these VPNs with the hope of accessing Netflix or BBC iPlayer, be aware these services and many others are now trying to block access for VPN-based IP addresses.

1. DotVPN

DotVPN has been around since 2014 and is now starting to gain serious traction. It has more than 500,000 users according to the Chrome Web Store, and has an average review score of 4 stars (from almost 5,000 reviews).

Some of its best features include:

  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • 12 virtual locations (Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom)
  • Unlimited switches between locations


The developers are also keen to underline the security benefits; it uses 4096-bit key encryption – that’s two times greater than modern banking standards.

2. ZenMate VPN

ZenMate VPN brands itself as a “cyber security solution”. They have a worldwide network of highly secure proxy servers which encrypt your information and protect you from malicious websites.

The ZenMate VPN service can be broken down into three parts – Internet privacy, Wi-Fi security, and unrestricted Internet access.

With regards to privacy, this will prevent trackers from banner ads, website analytics, and social media following you around the web. From a Wi-Fi perspective it will add an extra line of defense when you’re on unsecured public networks, and from an unrestricted Internet standpoint it will help you overcome geo-blocking.


ZenMate VPN also offers a premium service which improves the speed, adds extra locations, and offers 24/7 support. It’s available from $7.99 per month.

3. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is one of the new kids on the block.

Before we discuss its features, it is important to note that the service is operated by Anchor Free. Anchor is widely considered to be one of the most reliable companies in the industry; it’s more than 10 years old, has seen in excess of 400 million downloads across its different apps, and currently has 20 million active users in 190 countries.


In terms of the service, it’s both free and unlimited and has versions available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, OS X, and Windows.

Like ZenMate, there is also a premium version of Hotspot Shield. It starts at $2.08 per month, depending on your subscription length.

4. CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN is another provider that makes privacy and security its main selling points, rather than geo-blocking. According to its website, the service is responsible for blocking nearly 150 million adverts, 210,000 malicious websites, and 260 million tracking attempts.

CyberGhost VPN list nine key features of its service:

  • Ease of Use: One click on/off button
  • Protection from hackers, cyber scams, bank-account thefts, and phishing e-mail fraud
  • Anonymous browsing
  • Ad-free browsing
  • An ISO-certified supplier which releases an annual “Transparency Report”
  • Worldwide geo-unblocking
  • Protection against malicious sites
  • Data compress for mobile hotspots
  • And finally, forced HTTPS connections where available

The premium version is $3.79 per month.


5. Browsec VPN

Browsec VPN claims to be “an advanced analog of ZenMate, Stealthy, Hola, and frigate”.

Its main benefits are letting its users access any sites from anywhere, enhancing user privacy online, and protecting user data from sniffers and trackers.

It makes a big push on the geo-blocking, but rather than focus on opening up content from different countries’ stores on Netflix or BBC, Browsec VPN instead mention services like Spotify, Pandora, and SoundCloud – some of which are completely blocked in certain regions.

Browsec VPN also advertises its service as a way to access sites that are blocked on office or school computers, such as Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube.


6. TunnelBear VPN

Of all the services we’ve discussed in this list, TunnelBear has the best reviews – an unprecedented 5 stars from almost 10,500 individual ratings at the time of writing. Rather than being a true VPN, this service is actually an encrypted proxy.

Readers who’ve been working with VPNs for a long time will be well-aware of the brand name; TunnelBear VPN has been around for many years and has made very successful desktop-based products for both Windows and Mac.


There is one key difference between this Chrome extension and the desktop offerings, and it’s an important one to understand — TunnelBear for Chrome onlyencrypts your browser traffic, whereas TunnelBear VPN for desktop encrypts 100 percent of your data.

TunnelBear boasts some of the fastest speeds of all the VPNs on this list and has servers available in 20 countries worldwide.

Which Extensions Do You Use?

VPNs have lots of benefits for end users. It can be something simple like improving your privacy, but it could also be allowing you to navigate to sites such as The Pirate Bay which certain browsers have intentionally deemed to be malicious.

Of course, you also need to be alert as to how these services operate. Despite their best claims, if something is free, it often means you are the product. You need to look no further than the debacle surrounding Hola last year for a case in point. The reality is that if you want 100 percent peace of mind, you should invest in a paid service.

Source: makeUseOf

Posted in Computer | Leave a comment

Brewing Pumps: How to Pick the Best Pump for You

For most homebrewers, buying your first pump is a significant investment in your brewing system. A good brew pump will speed up wort transfers and allow you to recirculate your mash.

This will not only improve the clarity of the beer you brew, but will allow you to become more efficient and save you time. A pump can be a fantastic investment in a your home brewery. Because of this importance, choosing the right brewing pump is vital. In fact, buying the right pump for your brewing setup will make a significant difference in cleanup time, contamination risk, and cost.

In order to help you choose the right brew pump for your specific situation and setup, we’ll evaluate a few different types of pumps, as well as discuss the pros and cons associated with each. The three most common types available to home brewers include peristaltic, centrifugal, and diaphragm pumps.

Uses for Pumps

To understand what you need from your pump, think about how you intend to use it. When it comes to brewing beer at home, there are many ways a pump can benefit you. And having a pretty good idea of how you plan to use it, will make it far easier to buy the best brew pump for you.

One of the most common uses is to transfer hot water into the top tier of your brewery, for instance. You can also recirculate your mash or pump from the mash tun to the kettle. You can also use a cleaned and sanitized pump to circulate your wort through a counterflow chiller and into the fermenter.

Once the beer has fermented, you can use your pump to move beer between fermenters or into the keg for carbonation. So, when you consider which pump to purchase, it’s recommended that you consider how you intend to use it while brewing.

1. Peristaltic Pumps

Peristaltic Pump
Shop on Amazon

Peristaltic pumps are a great design, especially for brewing. The functionality is incredibly simple, but effective. Essentially, the liquid passes through a flexible tubing which is compressed from one end to the other by a mechanical means. Think of squeezing a toothpaste tube from the bottom to the top.

The distinct advantage of this motion centers on the fact that the only part of the pump that touched your wort is the tubing, which reduces the risk of contamination and makes cleanup far easier. Another advantage of this type of tube is that it is typically self-priming, which can save a lot of headaches and can keep you from burning out your pump by running it dry.

Unfortunately, peristaltic pumps are not typically an option for homebrewers due to the cost, but if you find a good one on eBay or are handy enough to build your own with some high temperature tubing, this type of brew pump is a great addition for any homebrewer.

The cost of a peristaltic pump tends to be significantly higher than for a centrifugal or diaphragm pump, landing between several hundred and several thousand dollars. With a little research online, however, you can easily build one yourself. A common brand of peristaltic pumps often used by commercial brewers is the Masterflex I/P series. These are fantastic and will definitely help you make better beer, but they are typically too expensive for the average homebrewer.

2. Diaphragm Pumps

Diaphragm Pump
Shop on Amazon

Another less-common pump for homebrewers is a diaphragm pump. The design of a diaphragm pump allows liquid to move in and out of a diaphragm, by increasing and reducing pressure in the pump housing alternately. The valves in the pump keep the liquids moving in one direction, preventing backflow problems.

Diaphragm pumps are fantastic for transferring liquids at lower temperatures, but their temperature thresholds typically max out at about 130-150° Fahrenheit. This makes it a bit problematic for recirculating wort or transferring hot wort through a chiller, but can be used to help move cooled wort into the fermenters or for pumping beer from primary to secondary fermenters or into kegs for carbonation. The fact that they are self-priming makes them an excellent choice for these functions, too.

Diaphragm pumps are a bit harder to clean than peristaltic pumps, but they are far less expensive than either of their counterparts. You can typically pick up a new one for between $140-170, but it’s not uncommon to find used ones online, as well. Shurflo makes a variety of different models that are great for a wide range of uses.

Unfortunately, while these brew pumps are great for transferring cool wort, you would still need to have an additional pump for hot side transfers. So while his type of brewing pump are less expensive, you would still need to buy a centrifugal or peristaltic pump for the hotter functions. This is not an economical solution for most homebrewers.

3. Centrifugal Pumps

Centrifugal Pump
Shop on Amazon

Centrifugal pumps are probably the most common brewing pump. They have a low enough cost to be manageable on most homebrewers’ budgets, and they can handle high enough temperatures for them to be functional for hot wort transfers and recirculating the mash.

Centrifugal pumps are simple machines, but there are some very important rules that have to be followed when using the pump. For instance, the pump must be kept below the liquid level being pumped. The pump is not self priming, which means it should not be started until the liquid is in the pump, and the pumps should never be allowed to run dry or you may burn out the motor.

Regulating the flow on the pump is done by placing a ball valve on the outflow of the pump, allowing you to throttle the flow as it leaves the pump. That feature is incredibly important for recirculating the mash, as having the flow move too quickly will result in a stuck mash and
cause problems for your brew day.

The most common brand for homebrewers is one from March Pump, as the make incredibly reliable and functional centrifugal pumps, but there are a lot of good brands to choose from. The Chugger Pump is a great alternative, and has a stainless steel head on it, which last longer and won’t crack if you accidentally drop it.

Other Considerations

In addition to those specific advantages and disadvantages of the types of brew pumps, make sure you pay attention to the other technical specifications of the pump you are evaluating. Before buying any pump, make sure it is food grade. If the pump is not food grade, it is not safe for use in brewing, especially at higher temperatures.

In addition, make sure the pump you are buying has the flow rate you need. For most brewing applications, a flow rate will never need to be above 5 gallons per minute, but you can find higher speed pumps to make your brew day a little faster. Note that the faster pumps may need to have the flow restricted when recirculating the mash or transferring out of the mash tun to prevent the stuck mash problem.

The final item you should always watch for is the temperature rating. For hot wort transfers, it is strongly recommended that you use a pump with a temperature rating over 220 degrees.

Peristaltic Pump

Setting Up Your Brew Pump

To set up your brew pump, you should always consult your owner’s manual. While they all have a very similar fundamental setup, there may be a few pumps that require a little something extra. Some basic setup rules apply to all pumps, however.

Use A GFCI Outlet: I would strongly recommend that you make sure you are using a GFCI outlet. You’ll be using this pump in a wet environment, so a GFCI outlet may save your life.

Mounting Your Pump: Make sure the pump is mounted securely before use. You don’t want to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a pump and then crack the housing on your first day brewing with it because you didn’t make sure it was mounted correctly.

Food Grade Tubing: Make sure your tubing is appropriate. It should be food grade and heat tolerant to boiling temperatures, and it should be the right size for your pump’s fittings.

If you are regulating the flow of the pump, make sure you install the ball valve correctly, and that you have all of the valves leading into the pump open before turning on the pump. Once you have your pump picked out and installed, get ready for your brew day to be a lot faster and easier.

Source: kegerator

Posted in beer | Leave a comment

20 Awesome PHP Libraries For Summer 2016


With Monolog you can create advanced logging systems by sending your PHP logs to files, sockets, databases, inboxes or other web services. The library has over 50 handlers for various utilities and can be integrated into frameworks such as Laravel, Symfony2 and Slim.

use Monolog\Logger;
use Monolog\Handler\StreamHandler;

// create a log channel
$log = new Logger('name');
$log->pushHandler(new StreamHandler('path/to/your.log', Logger::WARNING));

// add records to the log


A set of PHP classes that allow developers to easily implement spreadsheet editing in their apps. The library can read and write spreadsheet documents in a number of popular formats including Excel (both .xls and .xlsx), OpenDocument (.ods), and CSV to name a few.

include 'PHPExcel/IOFactory.php';

$inputFileName = './sampleData/example1.xls';

echo 'Loading file ',pathinfo($inputFileName,PATHINFO_BASENAME),' using IOFactory';
$objPHPExcel = PHPExcel_IOFactory::load($inputFileName);

$sheetData = $objPHPExcel->getActiveSheet()->toArray(null,true,true,true);


An interesting library for experimenting with Machine Learning, PHP-ML gives you an easy to use API for training your bot and making it do predictions based on input data. It offers a variety of different algorithms for pattern recognition and complex statistics calculations.

use Phpml\Classification\KNearestNeighbors;

$samples = [[1, 3], [1, 4], [2, 4], [3, 1], [4, 1], [4, 2]];
$labels = ['a', 'a', 'a', 'b', 'b', 'b'];

$classifier = new KNearestNeighbors();
$classifier->train($samples, $labels);

$classifier->predict([3, 2]);
// returns 'b' as the [3, 2] point is closer to the points in group b


Library for enabling users to authenticate themselves via their account in social networks or other services. Of course all the big names are available: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Github, Instagram, LinkedIn. Opauth is supported by many PHP frameworks so it can be easily integrated in most PHP apps.

'Strategy' => array(  
    // Define strategies here.

    'Facebook' => array(
        'app_id' => 'YOUR APP ID',
        'app_secret' => 'YOUR APP SECRET'


Whoops greatly improves the debugging experience in PHP by displaying a detailed error page when something breaks in an app. This error page gives us the full stack trace showing the specific files and snippets of code that caused the exception, all syntax-highlighted and colorful. The Laravel framework comes with Whoops built-in.

$whoops = new \Whoops\Run;
$whoops->pushHandler(new \Whoops\Handler\PrettyPageHandler);
// That's it!


Implementing this caching system in your PHP apps is guaranteed to make them load way quicker by reducing the amount of queries sent to the database. Instead of executing every DB query, FastCache sends only the unique ones, saves them as cache, and then serves them from there for each repetition. This way if you have the same query repeated 1000 times, it will be loaded from the DB one time, the rest 999 loads will be from cache.

use phpFastCache\CacheManager;

$config = array(
    "storage"   =>  "files",
    "path"      =>  "/your_cache_path/dir/",

// Try to get from Cache first with an Identity Keyword
$products = CacheManager::get("products");

// If not available get from DB and save in Cache.
if(is_null($products)) {
    $products = "DB SELECT QUERY";
    // Cache your $products for 600 seconds.
    CacheManager::set($cache_keyword, $products,600);


Guzzle is one of the best HTTP clients out there. It can handle almost any HTTP task that you throw at it: synchronous and asynchronous requests, HTTP cookies, streaming of large uploads and downloads. Working with Guzzle is really easy and the docs are well written with lots of examples and detailed explanations.

$client = new GuzzleHttp\Client();
$res = $client->request('GET', 'https://api.github.com/user', [
    'auth' => ['user', 'pass']
echo $res->getStatusCode();
// "200"
echo $res->getHeader('content-type');
// 'application/json; charset=utf8'
echo $res->getBody();
// {"type":"User"...'

// Send an asynchronous request.
$request = new \GuzzleHttp\Psr7\Request('GET', 'http://httpbin.org');
$promise = $client->sendAsync($request)->then(function ($response) {
    echo 'I completed! ' . $response->getBody();


Munee has lots of tricks up its sleeve: combining several CSS or JavaScript requests into one, image resizing, automatic compilation for Sass, Less and CoffeeScript files, as well as minification and Gzip compression. All of the previously mentioned processes are cached both server-side and client-side for optimal performance.

require 'vendor/autoload.php';
echo \Munee\Dispatcher::run(new \Munee\Request());
<!-- Combining two CSS files into one. -->
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/bootstrap.min.css, /css/demo.css">

<!-- Resizing image -->
<img src="/path/to/image.jpg?resize=width[100]height[100]exact[true]">

<!-- Files that need preprocessing are compiled automatically -->
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/demo.scss">

<!-- Minifying code -->
<script src="/js/script.js?minify=true"></script>


Templating engine with a very clean “mustache” syntax that makes markup shorter and easier to write. Twig offers everything you would expect from a modern templating library: variable escaping, loops, if/else blocks, as well as a secure sandbox mode for verifying template code.

// Template HTML

<p>Welcome {{ name }}!</p>

// Rendering

require_once '/path/to/lib/Twig/Autoloader.php';

$loader = new Twig_Loader_Filesystem('/path/to/templates');
$twig = new Twig_Environment($loader, array(
    'cache' => '/path/to/compilation_cache',

echo $twig->render('index.html', array('name' => 'George'));


Goutte is a Web Scraper that can crawl websites and extract HTML or XML data from them. It works by sending a request to a given URL and returning a Crawler object, which allows the developer to interact with the remote page in various ways.

use Goutte\Client;
$client = new Client();

// Go to the symfony.com website
$crawler = $client->request('GET', 'http://www.symfony.com/blog/');

// Click on the links
$link = $crawler->selectLink('Security Advisories')->link();
$crawler = $client->click($link);

// Extract data
$crawler->filter('h2 > a')->each(function ($node) {
    print $node->text()."\n";


Climate is a library for people who run PHP from the command line. It offers a collection of methods for talking to the terminal (both input and output), and also some beautifying functions for coloring and formatting. It can even draw and animate cool ASCII art.

$climate = new League\CLImate\CLImate;

// Output
$climate->out('This prints to the terminal.');

// Input
$input = $climate->input('How you doin?');
$response = $input->prompt();

// Formatting
$padding = $climate->padding(10);

// Eggs...... $1.99
// Oatmeal... $4.99


Built on top of Faker, Alice is a library that generates fake data objects for testing. To use it you first have to define the structure of your objects and what data you want in them. Then with a simple function call Alice will transform this template into an actual object with random values.

// Template in person.yml file
        firstName: '<firstName()>'
        lastName: '<lastName()>'
        birthDate: '<date()>'
        email: '<email()>'

// Load dummy data into an object
$person = \Nelmio\Alice\Fixtures::load('/person.yml', $objectManager);


The Ratchet library adds support for the WebSockets interface in apps with a PHP backend. WebSockets enable two-way communication between the server and client side in real time. For this to work in PHP, Ratchet has to start a separate PHP process that stays always running and asynchronously sends and receives messages.

class MyChat implements MessageComponentInterface {
    protected $clients;

    public function __construct() {
        $this->clients = new \SplObjectStorage;

    public function onOpen(ConnectionInterface $conn) {

    public function onMessage(ConnectionInterface $from, $msg) {
        foreach ($this->clients as $client) {
            if ($from != $client) {

// Run the server application through the WebSocket protocol on port 8080
$app = new Ratchet\App('localhost', 8080);
$app->route('/chat', new MyChat);


No PHP library collection is complete without PHPMailer. This project is backed by a huge community and is implemented in popular systems such as WordPress and Drupal, making it the safest choice for sending emails in PHP. It has SMTP support, can do HTML-based emails, and much more.

require 'PHPMailerAutoload.php';

$mail = new PHPMailer;

$mail->setFrom([email protected]', 'Mailer');
$mail->addAddress([email protected]');    


$mail->Subject = 'Here is the subject';
$mail->Body    = 'This is the HTML message body <b>in bold!</b>';

if(!$mail->send()) {
    echo 'Message could not be sent.';
    echo 'Mailer Error: ' . $mail->ErrorInfo;
} else {
    echo 'Message has been sent';


Hoa isn’t actually a PHP library – it’s an entire set of PHP libraries, containing all kinds of useful web development utilities. Although not all are fully documented, there are 50+ libraries right now, with new ones constantly being added. It’s completely modular so you can select only the libraries you need without any clutter.

// Hoa Mail
$message            = new Hoa\Mail\Message();
$message['From']    = 'Gordon Freeman <[email protected]>';
$message['To']      = 'Alyx Vance <[email protected]>';
$message['Subject'] = 'Hoa is awesome!';
    new Hoa\Mail\Content\Text('Check this out: http://hoa-project.net/!')

// Hoa Session
$user = new Hoa\Session\Session('user');

if ($user->isEmpty()) {
    echo 'first time', "\n";
    $user['foo'] = time();
} else {
    echo 'other times', "\n";


Anyone who has tried creating HTML emails knows what a pain it is to inline all of the CSS rules. This small PHP Class does the whole job for you, saving you lots of time and nerves. Just write your styles in a regular .css file and the PHP library will use the selectors to assign them at the proper tags.

use TijsVerkoyen\CssToInlineStyles\CssToInlineStyles;

// create instance
$cssToInlineStyles = new CssToInlineStyles();

$html = file_get_contents(__DIR__ . '/examples/sumo/index.htm');
$css = file_get_contents(__DIR__ . '/examples/sumo/style.css');

// output
echo $cssToInlineStyles->convert(


Library for doing all kinds of string manipulations. It offers a ton of different methods for modifying text (reverse(),htmlEncode(), toAscii() etc.) or gather information about a string (isAlphanumeric(), getEncoding(), among others). A cool thing about Stringy is that it also works with special symbols like Greek or Nordic letters;

s('Camel-Case')->camelize(); // 'camelCase'

s('   Ο     συγγραφέας  ')->collapseWhitespace(); // 'Ο συγγραφέας'

s('foo & bar')->containsAll(['foo', 'bar']); // true

s('str contains foo')->containsAny(['foo', 'bar']); // true

s('fòôbàř')->endsWith('bàř', true); // true

s('fòôbàř')->getEncoding(); // 'UTF-8'

s('&amp;')->htmlDecode(); // '&'


Robo is a Gulp-like task runner, only for PHP. With it you can set up automations that improve your workflow and the time it takes to build a project after making changes. Robo can run tests, compile code from preprocessors, handle version control updates, and many other useful tasks.

// Doing a Git Commit with Robo
public function pharPublish()
    $this->_rename('robo.phar', 'robo-release.phar');
    return $this->collectionBuilder()
            ->commit('robo.phar published')
            ->push('origin', 'gh-pages')

PHP Humanizer

This library takes variables and transforms them into a more human-readable format using a set of methods. For example it can turn Roman numerals into numbers, truncate long strings, and calculate bytes to kB/MB/GB. Support for over 15 languages (the spoken kind, not programming ones).

use Coduo\PHPHumanizer\NumberHumanizer;

echo StringHumanizer::humanize('field_name'); // "Field Name"

echo NumberHumanizer::ordinalize(1); // "1st"
echo NumberHumanizer::ordinalize(23); // "23rd"

echo NumberHumanizer::toRoman(5); // "V"
echo NumberHumanizer::fromRoman("MMMCMXCIX"); // 3999

echo NumberHumanizer::binarySuffix(1024); // "1 kB"
echo NumberHumanizer::binarySuffix(1073741824 * 2); // "2 GB"


The last item on our list is this small library for extracting colors from images. It iterates all of the pixels in a given picture and returns a palette of the colors on it sorted by total area. Developers can then use this palette to get the most dominant colors and adapt the design according to them.

require 'vendor/autoload.php';

use League\ColorExtractor\Color;
use League\ColorExtractor\Palette;

$palette = Palette::fromFilename('./some/image.png');

$topFive = $palette->getMostUsedColors(5);
$colorCount = count($palette);
$blackCount = $palette->getColorCount(Color::fromHexToInt('#000000'));

Source: tutorialZine

Posted in Dev | Leave a comment