Deep dive CSS: font metrics, line-height and vertical-align – Vincent De Oliveira

An introduction to the inline formatting context. Explores line-height and vertical-align properties, as well as the font metrics. Understand how text is rendered on screen, and how to control it with CSS.

Source: Deep dive CSS: font metrics, line-height and vertical-align – Vincent De Oliveira

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15 useful utilities for windows 10

  1. Synergy (Share a mouse and keyboard across computers)
    Share a mouse and keyboard across computers
    If you have more than one machine on your desk, you know it’s a pain to have multiple keyboards and mice. Synergy is a virtual KVM that works across PCs, Macs, and Linux boxes. It’s $19, but worth it.
  2. Spacedesk (Turn your tablet into an external monitor)
    Turn your tablet into an external monitor
    It’s well known that more screen real estate increases productivity. Given we all have tablets lying around, why not use them as an extra screen for your laptop? That’s what Spacedesk is does for you, for free.
  3. Reaconverter (Automatically modify images in bulk)
    Automatically modify images in bulk
    If have any kind of bulk image converting tasks, Reaconverter is the tool to use. You can create simple scripts and droplets that will transform entire folders nearly instantly. There’s a free version.
  4. KeyTweak (Customize keyboard behavior at the nano-level)
    Customize keyboard behavior at the nano-level
    KeyTweak looks old because it’s been around for a long time. But it still works and it’s free. If you need to surgically alter your keyboard, this is the tool for you. Not for newbies.
  5. PC Decrapifier (Eliminate excess software)
    Eliminate excess software
    It’s hard to believe, but PCs still come loaded with crap. PC Decrapifier has been with us for years and is still a go-to tool to clean the crap from your machine. It’s a free download.
  6. MysticThumbs (Display image thumbnails instead of generic icons)
    Display image thumbnails instead of generic icons
    The Windows desktop and File Explorer show thumbnails for some file formats, but not all. If you want to see (and customize) thumbnails for many more formats, MysticThumbs is your friend. $30. Just one snag: it has a problem displaying thumbnails from shares.
  7. Revo Uninstaller Pro (Uninstall stubborn apps)
    Uninstall stubborn apps
    At almost $40, this isn’t cheap. But if you want to cleanly remove applications from your Windows install, Revo Uninstaller Pro can save you a lot of time, and even save you from having to do a fresh install… for a while.
  8. Mobile Net Switch is a tool (Switch to the right network)
    Switch to the right network
    For those who remember NetProfileSwitch, Mobile Net Switch is a tool that’s been updated for Windows 10. As you move from network to network, it adjusts your PC’s network configuration automatically. About $30.
  9. Speccy (Find out what’s in your computer)
    Find out what's in your computer
    If you’ve ever needed to know your machine’s configuration (say, to find the right drivers), Speccy is the go-to product. There’s a free version that should do for most needs.
  10. Recover Keys (Find keys for installed products)
    Find keys for installed products
    If you want to reinstall your system, it’s often necessary to re-register with the appropriate product key. If you can’t find your original order, the $30 Recover Keys can help.
  11. WinDirStat (Find what’s clogging your storage)
    Find what's clogging your storage
    Why is my drive suddenly full? Ever have that happen to you? With WinDirStat, you can see all your files at a glance and easily see the clusters of files that are taking up way too much space. Oh, yeah. It’s totally free.
  12. Quick Assist (Avoid driving 3 hours to fix Mom’s computer)
    Avoid driving 3 hours to fix Mom's computer
    Back in the day, there was Windows Remote Assistant. Today, Windows 10 supports Quick Assist, which will help you fix machines remotely. If both of you don’t run Windows 10, consider TeamViewer — there’s a free version.
  13. 7-zip (Uncompress pretty much everything)
    Uncompress pretty much everything
    So someone just sent you a file compressed with some odd format. Consider 7-Zip your go-to tool. It can uncompress 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP, WIM, AR, ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DMG, EXT, FAT, GPT, HFS, IHEX, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, QCOW2, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, UEFI, VDI, VHD, VMDK, WIM, XAR and Z files.
  14. VLC (Play nearly every media format)
    Play nearly every media format
    Affectionately known as “the cone,” VLC will play nearly any media format you can think of (and many you can’t). Plus, it’s free. You can’t beat that!
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Beer — how it is made by corporations

Secrets Of Beer Exposed

Алекс Джонс: Из чего делают пиво?

foodbabe.com/beer

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Transparent JPG (With SVG)

Let’s say you have a photographic image that really should be a JPG or WebP, for the best file size and quality. But what if I need transparency too? Don’t I need PNG for that? Won’t that make for either huge file sizes (PNG-24) or weird quality (PNG-8)? Let’s look at another way that ends up best-of-both-worlds.

The original photographic image.

The goal is to clip myself out of the image, removing the background. My technique for that is usually to use Photoshop and cut a clipping path manually with the Pen tool.

Now I can select the inverse of that clipping path to easily remove the background.

Attempting to save this as a 1200px wide image as PNG-24 out of Photoshop ends up as about a 1MB image!

1MB is huge 🙁

We could cut that by 75% using PNG-8, but then we 1) get that weird Giffy look (less photographic) and 2) have to pick a matte color for the edges because we aren’t getting nice alpha transparency here, just binary transparency.

Much better file size, but quality is weird.

Gosh what if we could just use JPG? The quality and file size is way better.

No transparency though.

But wait! Can’t we just clip this thing out? We have clip-path now. Well… yeah. We do have clip-path. It can’t take a path(), though, and what we’ve created for vector points in Photoshop is path data. It could take a polygon() though, if we made all the lines straight. That’s probably not ideal (I’m curvy!). Or we could make a <clipPath> element in some inline SVG and use clip-path: url(#id_of_clipPath);, which does support a <path> inside.

There is masking as well, which is another possibility.

Let’s look at a third possibility though: put everything into <svg>. That made some logical sense to me, so all this stays together and scales together.

The trick is to make two things:

  1. The JPG
  2. The clipping <path>

The JPG is easy enough. Output that right from Photoshop. Optimize.

Now we can set up the SVG. SVG is happy to take a raster graphic. SVG is known for vector graphics, but it’s a very flexible image format.

<svg>
  <image xlink:href="/images/chris.jpg" x="0" y="0">
<svg>

To get the path, we export the path we created with the Pen tool over to Illustrator.

Now we have the path over there, and it’s easy to export as SVG:

Now we have the path data we need:

Even with all those points, this was 1.5K unoptimzed and ungzipped. Not much overhead.

Let’s use that <path> within a <clipPath> in the SVG we’ve started. Then also apply that clip path to the <image>:

<svg viewBox="0 0 921.17 1409.71">
  <defs>
    <clipPath id="chris-clip">
      <path d=" ... " />
    </clipPath>
  </defs>
  <image xlink:href="/images/chris.jpg" clip-path="url(#chris-clip)" x="0" y="0">
<svg>

Tada!

A transparent JPG, essentially.

source: css-tricks

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20 Awesome PHP Libraries For Early 2017

This week we have for you a collection of high-quality PHP libraries that have caught our eye in the last couple of months. We’ve tried our best to include projects that are active, well documented, and will have a realistic shot at finding a place in your developer’s workbelt.

If we’ve haven’t included your favorite new library, feel free to share it in the comments 🙂


Requests for PHP

A no-dependencies library that lets you send HTTP requests. It provides the needed methods for adding headers, accessing response data, handling forms, and everything else you may need, neatly packaged in a clean and easy to use API.

$headers = array('Accept' => 'application/json');
$options = array('auth' => array('user', 'pass'));
$request = Requests::get('https://api.github.com/gists', $headers, $options);

var_dump($request->status_code);
// int(200)

var_dump($request->headers['content-type']);
// string(31) "application/json; charset=utf-8"

var_dump($request->body);
// string(26891) "[...]"

Rinvex Country

Rinvex Country is a PHP package that lets developers retrieve detailed information about the countries of the world. Using the over 50 methods you can get the area of Angola, the currency of Cyprus, the native name of Namibia or even the FIFA name of Finland. There is a ton of info available and the data sources are pretty reliable.

$egypt = country('eg');

$egypt->getCapital();   // Cairo
$egypt->getDemonym();   // Egyptian
$egypt->getTld();       // .eg
$egypt->getContinent(); // Africa
$egypt->getSubregion(); // Northern Africa
$egypt->getBorders();   // ["ISR","LBY","SDN"]

Botman

A PHP library for developing messenger bots. Works with most of the popular messaging platforms including Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, WeChat, and others. There is also a helpful boilerplate Laravel project available here.

// create an instance
$botman = BotManFactory::create($config);

// give the bot something to listen for.
$botman->hears('hello', function (BotMan $bot) {
    $bot->reply('Hello yourself.');
});

// start listening
$botman->listen();

If you are not familiar with the concept of messenger bots we suggest you check out our article Developer’s Introduction To Chatbots.


Charts

Laravel package for generating highly customizable charts out of datasets. The package works as a PHP wrapper for multiple built-in JavaScript chart libraries, allowing devs to create a wide variety of graphs, gauges and progressbars using only one tool.

$chart = Charts::create('line', 'highcharts')
    ->view('custom.line.chart.view') 
    ->title('My nice chart')
    ->labels(['First', 'Second', 'Third'])
    ->values([5,10,20])
    ->dimensions(1000,500)
    ->responsive(false);

Swap

Swap allows you to retrieve currency exchange rates from a number of services such as Fixer, Google, and Yahoo. Request responses can be easily cached and accessed later. The library is available in the form of a Laravel Package as well.

// Build Swap with Fixer.io
$swap = (new Builder())
    ->add('fixer')
    ->build();
    
// Get the latest EUR/USD rate
$rate = $swap->latest('EUR/USD');

// 1.129
$rate->getValue();

// Get the EUR/USD rate 15 days ago
$rate = $swap->historical('EUR/USD', (new \DateTime())->modify('-15 days'));

Math PHP

A collection of mathematical functions and algorithms ranging from simple algebra to finances, statistics, numerical analysis and others fields. The library is modular, has a straightforward API, and doesn’t require any external dependencies.

// Factors of an integer
$factors = Algebra::factors($n);

// Fibonacci sequence
$fib = Advanced::fibonacci($n);

// Combinations
$nCk  = Combinatorics::combinations($n, $k);

// Likelihood ratios
$LL = Experiment::likelihoodRatio($a, $b, $c, $d);

PHPUnit

PHPUnit is an advanced testing framework that enables teams to thoroughly test their code. Unit tests are written in standalone object-oriented classes with the help of many methods for handling assertions, dependencies, etc. A simple CLI is provided for running test and generating reports.

class StackTest extends TestCase
{
    public function testPushAndPop()
    {
        $stack = [];
        $this->assertEquals(0, count($stack));

        array_push($stack, 'foo');
        $this->assertEquals('foo', $stack[count($stack)-1]);
        $this->assertEquals(1, count($stack));

        $this->assertEquals('foo', array_pop($stack));
        $this->assertEquals(0, count($stack));
    }
}

Atoum

A less popular testing framework we also wanted to share. Atoum offers a one-step installation precess and a relatively simple workflow, while still maintaining a ton of great features. It has a mock engine, expressive assertions, and a CLI that can execute multiple tests in parallel.

$this->given($testedInstance = new testedClass())
    ->and($testedClass[] = $firstValue = uniqid())
    ->then
        ->sizeof($testedInstance)->isEqualTo(1)
        ->string($testedClass[0])->isEqualTo($firstValue);

Simple Regex Language

A PHP implementation of the Simple Regex Language – a verbose way of writing regular expressions. The library provides multiple methods that can be chained together, forming readable and easy to understand RegEx rules. The library has ports for JavaScript and Python as well.

$query = SRL::startsWith()
    ->anyOf(function (Builder $query) {
        $query->digit()
            ->letter()
            ->oneOf('._%+-');
    })->onceOrMore()
    ->literally('@')
    ->anyOf(function (Builder $query) {
        $query->digit()
            ->letter()
            ->oneOf('.-');
    })->onceOrMore()
    ->literally('.')
    ->letter()->atLeast(2)
    ->mustEnd()->caseInsensitive();

Stash

Stash makes it easy to speed up your code by caching the results of expensive functions or code. Certain actions, like database queries or calls to external APIs, take a lot of time to run but tend to have the same results over short periods of time. This makes it much more efficient to store the results and call them back up later.

$pool = $this->cachePool;

// Get a Stash object from the cache pool.
$item = $pool->getItem("/user/{$userId}/info");

// Get the data from it, if any happens to be there.
$userInfo = $item->get();

// Check to see if the cache missed, which could mean that it either
// didn't exist or was stale.
if($item->isMiss())
{
    // Run the relatively expensive code.
    $userInfo = loadUserInfoFromDatabase($userId);

    // Set the new value in $item.
    $item->set($userInfo);

    // Store the expensive code so the next time it doesn't miss.
    $pool->save($item)
}

PHP VCR

A port of the popular Ruby library for testing HTTP interactions. PHP VCR records HTTP requests and stores them in “cassettes” which can be replayed later on. A set of testing utilities are also provided, making it possible to inspect and compare recordings in detail.

// After turning on, the VCR will intercept all requests
\VCR\VCR::turnOn();

// Record requests and responses in cassette file 'example'
\VCR\VCR::insertCassette('example');

// Following request will be recorded once and replayed in future test runs
$result = file_get_contents('http://example.com');
$this->assertNotEmpty($result);

// To stop recording requests, eject the cassette
\VCR\VCR::eject();

// Turn off VCR to stop intercepting requests
\VCR\VCR::turnOff();

OAuth 2.0 Server

This library allows you to easily configure an OAuth 2.0 server and set up all the authentication levels needed to protect your API. It is fully standards compliant and supports all the grants defined by OAuth protocol. The Laravel Passport module is built on top of the OAuth 2.0 Server.

// Setup the authorization server
$server = new \League\OAuth2\Server\AuthorizationServer(
    $clientRepository,
    $accessTokenRepository,
    $scopeRepository,
    $privateKey,
    $publicKey
);

// Enable a grant on the server
$server->enableGrantType(
    new \League\OAuth2\Server\Grant\ClientCredentialsGrant(),
    new \DateInterval('PT1H') // access tokens will expire after 1 hour
);

Imagine

An image manipulation library that tries to bring together all low level PHP image processing libraries under the same object-oriented API. This allows Imagine to be used for a wide variety of tasks such as drawing, resizing, cropping, filters, effects, metadata editing, and others.

$palette = new Imagine\Image\Palette\RGB();

$image = $imagine->create(new Box(400, 300), $palette->color('#000'));

$image->draw()
    ->ellipse(new Point(200, 150), new Box(300, 225), $image->palette()->color('fff'));

$image->save('/path/to/ellipse.png');

MINI

Extremely simple and easy to understand skeleton PHP application, providing only the most essential features every project needs. It does not strive to be a do-it-all framework like Laravel, but due to it’s simplicity MINI can be used for getting smaller apps up and running in no time.

// Working with the model
$songs = $this->model->getAllSongs();
$amount_of_songs = $this->model->getAmountOfSongs();

// Loading views
require APP . 'views/_templates/header.php';
require APP . 'views/songs/index.php';
require APP . 'views/_templates/footer.php';

AWS SDK

The official PHP library for working with Amazon Web Services. The SDK makes it easy to connect AWS with any PHP project and access all the various available services. There is also a useful Laravel wrapper which can be found here.

// Instantiate an Amazon S3 client.
$s3 = new S3Client([
    'version' => 'latest',
    'region'  => 'us-west-2'
]);

$s3->putObject([
    'Bucket' => 'my-bucket',
    'Key'    => 'my-object',
    'Body'   => fopen('/path/to/file', 'r'),
    'ACL'    => 'public-read',
]);

Purl

Lightweight PHP library for working with URLs. With Purl you can compose complex paths attribute by attribute, extract data from URLs, manipulate queries, recognize URLs in strings, and much more.

$url = \Purl\Url::parse('http://jwage.com')
    ->set('scheme', 'https')
    ->set('port', '443')
    ->set('user', 'jwage')
    ->set('pass', 'password')
    ->set('path', 'about/me')
    ->set('query', 'param1=value1&param2=value2');

echo $url->getUrl(); // https://jwage:[email protected]:443/about/me?param1=value1&param2=value2
echo $url->publicSuffix; // com
echo $url->registerableDomain; // jwage.com

Daux.io

Documentation generator that uses a simple folder structure and Markdown files to create responsive documentation websites. Daux.io has automatic syntax highlighting, 4 theming options, Bootstrap HTML for easy customization, navigation with readable URLs, and many other goodies.

// Example configuration
{
    "title": "DAUX.IO",
    "tagline": "The Easiest Way To Document Your Project",
    "author": "Justin Walsh",
    "image": "app.png",
    "html": {
        "theme": "daux-blue",
        "breadcrumbs": true,
        "repo": "justinwalsh/daux.io",
        "edit_on_github": "justinwalsh/daux.io/blob/master/docs",
        "twitter": ["justin_walsh", "todaymade"],
        "google_analytics": "UA-12653604-10",
        "links": {
            "Download": "https://github.com/justinwalsh/daux.io/archive/master.zip",
            "GitHub Repo": "https://github.com/justinwalsh/daux.io",
            "Made by Todaymade": "http://todaymade.com"
        }
    }
}

Dompdf

Dompdf is a PDF generator that takes regular HTML markup and converts it to .pdf files. It understands most CSS rules, which can be fed in-line or via an external stylesheet.

// reference the Dompdf namespace
use Dompdf\Dompdf;

// instantiate and use the dompdf class
$dompdf = new Dompdf();
$dompdf->loadHtml('hello world');

// (Optional) Setup the paper size and orientation
$dompdf->setPaper('A4', 'landscape');

// Render the HTML as PDF
$dompdf->render();

// Output the generated PDF to Browser
$dompdf->stream();

Instaphp

Non-official library for accessing the Instagram API. It provides developers with an easy way to authenticate their app and get access to various Instagram data endpoints including images, users, likes, comments, and tags.

$api = new Instaphp\Instaphp([
    'client_id' => 'your client id',
    'client_secret' => 'your client secret',
    'redirect_uri' => 'http://somehost.foo/callback.php',
    'scope' => 'comments+likes'
]);

$popular = $api->Media->Popular(['count' => 10]);

if (empty($popular->error)) {
    foreach ($popular->data as $item) {
        printf('<img src="%s">', $item['images']['low_resolution']['url']);
    }
}

Latitude

Zero-dependencies library for building SQL queries using chainable methods. It supports most query types and works well with MySQL, Postgres, SQL Server, and other databases. There are also built-in escaping helpers for protecting against SQL injection.

$select = SelectQuery::make(
        'id',
        'username'
    )
    ->from('users');

echo $select->sql();
// SELECT id, username FROM users

source: tutorialzine

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Домашний сыр

Домашний сыр.

Ингредиенты:

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

Приготовление:

  • 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.

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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

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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.

Advantages

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.

Disadvantages

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)

Ingredients

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

Ingredients

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

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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

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