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Knowing some simple brewing tips and tricks can make all the difference between a so-so brew and a cracking ale. Much of the fokelaw surrounding home brewing centers on murky brews that taste of yeast, exploding equipment and drunk party go-ers - but it needn't be that way. Home brewing done well produces artisan quality brews that can be crafted to your particular tastes, and it can do all this for 30p a pint. All you need is good ingredients, brewing practise and the knowledge of a few tips and tricks.
How to maintain the perfect fermentation temperature - cheaply and easily
The correct fermentation temperature is absolutely crucial to a good brew. People spend a lot of money on equipment to get this right when they become serious brewers, but you can still do it very cheaply and easily with some simple equipment.
The problem is that you have to maintain a constant 21*C temperature throughout, and if you want to be really serious the first 24 hours of fermentation should be at 23*C to allow the yeast to establish quickly. However, if you sink below 18*C fermentation will stop and then stick, and above 25*C you'll kill the yeast. If 23*C is held for more than 24 hours you're likely to impart weird off flavours to your brew. So how on earth do you maintain 23*C for 24hrs and then 21*C for 7 days accurately enough?
There is a simple cheap solution. You need to buy a brew belt (heating element), an aquarium thermostat and a vivarium or aquarium stick-on thermometer. First stick the thermometer on to your fermenting bucket - this will provide your visual and accurate check on the temperature. Then set the aquarium thermostat to the right temperature (this will be approximate, but you can tune it with the thermometer). Now plug the brew belt into the thermostat and wrap it round your fermenter. Steralise the thermostats sensor (long bit of wire) and drop it into your brew so it sits in the middle about half way down in depth. Your brew will now be kept at a constant temperature, whenever it cools below what you have set on the thermostat it will be heated back up by the brew belt. The total cost of this equipment is about £20-£30 and is worth it's weight in gold!
Knowing some simple brewing tricks can make all the difference