OnTap Magazine

ONLINE TOOLS Apart from brewing software, there are also a few handy online brewing tools you’ll probably want to check out. Here are two good ones: • Mr Malty - used by thousands of homebrewers over the years, Mr Malty features articles, books, and a yeast pitching calculator second to none (that one you'll have to purchase from the app store at US$2.99). www.mrmalty.com • Bru 'n Water - this site is for beer geeks that take their water chemistry seriously. Of course, it is the main ingredient in beer, so probably a good thing to look at eventually. You can even download a spreadsheet calculator for water calculations. Nerd. sites.google.com/site/brunwater/home Little Wolf x Stellenbosch Brewing Sorghum Gose Botanist-turned-brewer Stefan Wiswedel teamed up with Bruce Collins of Stellies for the second in Little Wolf’s Field Notes series – limited edition brews each featuring a different locally sourced botanical. Try your hand at recreating their Sorghum Gose with this scaled down version of the recipe. Nuts & bolts Batch size: 20 litres Efficiency: 70% Estimated OG: 1.034 Estimated FG: 1.006 Estimated ABV: 3.7% Bitterness: 11 IBU Estimated colour: 3 SRM Mash ingredients Pale ale malt 2kg Malted sorghum (King Korn) 650g Wheat malt 325g Munich light 200g Oats (i.e. Jungle Oats) 150g Boil ingredients Saaz [3%] 26g @ 60min Coriander seeds, toasted and crushed roughly 20g @ 5min Sea Salt 10g @ 5min (We used renosterbos-infused salt from CapeTownFynbosExperience, but any sea salt would work) Ferment ingredients Fermentis US-05 Nutrilida LP299V (bacteria) - available at most pharmacies including Dischem and Clicks Method: Mash in at 65°C and hold for 60 minutes. Mash out at 78°C. Boil for 15 minutes with no additions. Cool to 35°C in the kettle or fermenter and pitch in two capsules of LP299V. Insulate the vessel as best you can and try to eliminate oxygen ingress. After 24 hours, boil the wort again for 60 minutes and do the hop, salt and coriander additions as per recipe. Cool to 20°C and pitch in the yeast and allow to ferment for two weeks. Bottle/keg as per usual. this can be done on a spreadsheet with the right formulas, but really, who has time for that? Another oft-overlooked part of that equation (see what I did there?) is that you might get it wrong. Software like BeerSmith is supported by a humongous community of brewers and beer geeks, so errors of calculation are rare and quickly corrected when found. Doing things on your own provides no such comfort. TIMING THINGS Brewing can sometimes be all about timing: how long to mash your base grains, how long to steep your specialty grains, and when to add those lovely, lovely hops. While an ordinary timer on your phone can do the job, brewing software commonly translates your recipe into a multi-step timer that you can use to brew like a pro. Most phone timers simply cannot cope with brewers’ funny backwards timekeeping anyway. Using the timing functionality in brewing software makes sure that you’ll never miss a hop addition, steep time, or important life event ever again. Okay, maybe not that last one. But it’s pretty cool for brewing. TEACHING YOU HOW TO BREW An underappreciated bene t of using brewing software is that it can teach you proper brewing methods and techniques. By using good software, you get a feel for the entire end-to-end process of brewing, as well as emphasizing important concepts like measuring things and paying attention to fermentation temperatures and so on. Your natural curiosity about features of the software will also lead to discovering advanced concepts of brewing that you may never have known about. For instance, BeerSmith automatically calculates something called bitterness ratio for your recipes. Now I don’t want to oversell this, but understanding the bitterness ratio of your beers is one secret to going from okayish brews to magni cently balanced works of art. Bitterness ratio, by the way, is measure of the perceived bitterness of your beer as a function of IBUs over original gravity (modi ed by attenuation). Extremely bitter Imperial IPAs for instance, may have ratios close to or exceeding 1. Less bitter beers that are more malt-forward, like Brown Ales, may have bitterness ratios closer to 0.3 or 0.4. Along the same vein, software easily helps determine the e ciency of your brewhouse. is is important for calculating accurate ingredient quantities and also serves as a bit of a benchmark of your skill at extracting those all-important sugars from the base grains. TAKING NOTES I think it was Aristotle who said, “Take more notes, stupid!” And in homebrewing, you can never take enough notes. When I teach students how to brew beer, I like to tell them that the most important tool a brewer has is not a mash paddle, a fancy refractometer, or automatic kettle, but the humble notebook. Recording the details of your brew day and brewing process is vital to becoming better at making beer. Now, an ordinary old countertop book will do you well for this. Mine kinda looks like a cross between an Indiana Jones artifact and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. And that’s the problem, really. Brewing software allows you to make notes on each recipe and brew day e ortlessly. Also, most software packages allow for cloud storage, which truly is a gift from the gods. at way, your brewing notes can never be lost because of an unfortunate beer spillage or pet-induced disaster. FINAL THOUGHTS ere are some clearly important, objective things you have to get right when making good beer, like sanitation for instance. Along with that, there are a whole host of measurements, ratios, and other scary mathematical concepts to get to grips with. Brewing software takes a lot, and I mean a lot, of the pain away when it comes to these necessary evils. In addition, it might just make you a better brewer. Now, go brew something excellent. HOMEBRU QUICK TIP Aim for a mash pH of 5.2 BREW-IT-YOURSELF 60 | Autumn 2019 | ontapmag.co.za