Tuesday 30 November 2021

How to pressurise & purge keg using CO2 from fermentation

Once you dive into the world of pressure fermentation, it opens the doors to loads of options and possibilities for ways of achieving things when brewing and fermenting.

As we all know, the process of fermentation works by yeast consuming the sugars made available in wort, which then converts the sugar to alcohol. The byproduct of this process is carbon dioxide (CO2). If you are using a pressure capable fermenter, you can capture and harness this CO2 (there is lots of it) for other purposes. 

Such purposes may include pre-pressuring one or multiple kegs so it is purged of oxygen, and is full of CO2 and ready for your pressure transfer of beer after fermentation has completed.

Another common technique is to have your keg filled (or partly filled) with sanitising solution - and then use the CO2 from your fermentation to purge, or push this sanitiser out of the keg and into another keg, or another vessel such as a bucket. Here's how it's done.

What you'll need

  • A pressure capable fermenter (eg. Kegland's Fermzilla) with fermentation happening or about to happen
  • Gas line and disconnects to connect the gas output/post on your fermenter to the gas post on your keg
  • Beer line and disconnect(s) from your keg to your other keg (if transferring to another keg), or otherwise, another vessel for the sanitising solution to be displaced into
  • Your keg, with sanitising solution in it
  • A spunding valve

How to do it

  1. Put the sanitising solution in your keg and seal it shut. We typically use 1 or 2 litres of solution - you can use as much or as little as you like. Some people fill the keg completely, we just use a couple of litres and shake it in the fermenter to cover and sanitise all parts of it.

  2. Connect the gas outlet on your fermenter (1) to the gas/in post of your keg (2)

  3. Connect the liquid/out post on your keg (3) to the other vessel you will purge the sanitising solution into (4). In our example photo above, we're using a soft drink/soda bottle with a carbonation cap attached so we can use a liquid disconnect . Alternatively, you can opt to have the end of the hose sitting loose in a bucket, or you can use a disconnect and attach it to another keg

  4. As the gas from the fermentation is transferred via the line into the keg, the sanitising solution will be forced out (slowly). If using a pressurised bottle as we are, you will need to periodically release the pressure in the bottle to keep the transfer flowing.

  5. As an added bonus, this process sanitises the liquid/out post and dip tube on your keg, as well as the disconnects and line/hose it is being transferred through.

  6. Another option is to leave the liquid/out post (3) disconnected and let the pressure build in the keg. You can then attach the disconnect and have all the sanitiser pushed out at once, and more quickly.

Once your keg has been purged of sanitising solution you should ensure it is completely purged of oxygen. For the step phase, we'll essentially replace the connection at number 3 with a spunding valve

  1. Connect the gas/out post on your fermenter (1) to the gas/in post of your keg (2).

  2. Connect your spunding valve to the liquid/out post of your keg (3)

  3. Set your spunding valve pressure

  4. You can leave this connected for the entire fermentation period if necessary. The pressure within the keg will continue to build until it reaches the pressure set on the spunding valve. Once this pressure is reached it will constantly vent excess pressure as required to maintain it's set pressure. Since carbon dioxide (CO2) is more dense than oxygen, the oxygen will always be forced to the top of the keg and out through the spunding valve first.

The best thing about this entire process is it's essentially using 'free' carbon dioxide that is created by your fermentation, so reduces the amount of CO2 you would otherwise use from your bottle.

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Monday 29 November 2021

Sydney Brewery - Pyrmont Rye IPA - Beer Review

Review Date: 26/11/2021 
Brewery Name: Sydney Brewery
Beer Name: Pyrmont Rye IPA (definitely a missed opportunity - why is it not called a "Rye-PA"!?)

"Crafted with three varities of U.S hops, a bitter spiciness of pine & savoury malt, our Pyrmont Rye IPA presents itself as a beautiful dark amber, perfectly balanced with a sweet, fruitful aroma. Pyrmont Rye IPA really is a ripper!"

Sydney Brewery - Pyrmont Rye IPA


Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 6.5% (High Strength)

Label/Design: 3/10 - plain & simple design
Serving Style: Can - 355ml
Region of Origin: Pacific (Australia, New Zealand)
Style Family: IPA
Malts/Adjuncts: Rye, Unknown
Hops: 3 US Varieties (Unspecified)
IBU's: Unknown


Colour: Deep Amber

Clarity: Slight Haze
Collar of Foam & Head Retention: Good (more than 60 seconds)
Foam Texture: Fluffy
Carbonation (Visible): Slow
Alcohol Aroma: Mild


Esters Aroma: None
Phenols: None

Flavour & Aftertaste

Alcohol Taste: Noticeable
Hop Bitterness: Aggressive

Malt Sweetness: Medium
Astringency: Low
Palate/Mouthfeel: Full Bodied (Round, Rich & Creamy)
Palate Carbonation: Medium
Length/Finish: Medium (15 to 60 seconds)

Oxidative/Aged Qualities: None


Sydney Brewery Pyrmont Rye IPA in the Craftd Alpha glass

Drinkability: 7/10
Overall Impression: 7/10

Notes: Overall an enjoyable beer and a good example of an American IPA. It has strong flavours - the unmissable classic American hop flavours always pair well with the caramel notes, presumably from crystal malts being used. Enjoyable but not sessionable with plenty of flavour and alcohol content.

Saturday 27 November 2021

What is Hop Creep and How to Prevent It?

Hop creep is a phenomenon that refers to beer becoming over-attenuated due to additional diastaste enzymes being introduced to the wort/beer when quantities of hops are added for dry hopping. These enzymes can cause the conversion of long-chain unfermentable dextrins into fermentable sugars. This then results in what is essentially another slow, "mini" fermentation that kicks off after the primary fermentation has completed and dry hops are added. The problem isn't just isolated to the period that the beer is in direct contact with the dry hops either - the enzymes that are introduced by the dry hops remain in the beer even after they are removed (or the beer is racked off them) - meaning hop creep can occur very late in the beer production process, sometimes after packaging.

Hop creep can lead to a number of a problems such as;

  • Lower final gravity (FG) than expected, which leads to
  • Increased alcohol content, and other potential off flavours such as diacetyl, as well as
  • Increased CO2, which can cause
  • Over carbonated (pressurised) beer and potentially exploding bottles/cans
As you can see, all of the potential issues are related and connected - and the last point can be particularly dangerous to consumers and homebrewers alike.

Hop creep often occurs after packaging meaning the first people to notice it are often the end customers when they experience a product that does not necessarily match what is printed on the label.

The concept isn't new - it was first documented as far back as 1893, but was seemingly forgotten about until recent times with the increased popularity of aggressively dry-hopped craft beers.

Another speculative factor for the recent increase in prevalence of hop creep is the dropping of hop kilning temperatures. At the direction of the craft beer industry, the hop industry over the past five years have dropped their kilning temperature to an average of 125-130F from the previous temperature of 145-150F. This reduction in temperature would mean less of the hop enzymes are inactivated during kilning.

The hop creep process is known to be slow - hence the term 'creep', and may only result in a one or two gravity points of difference from the expected terminal gravity of the wort - but this could have big implications in terms of alcohol content and CO2 production. The common off flavour, diacetyl, is also created again by this secondary mini fermentation, and can take longer to be cleaned up the yeast again, if at all.

From a commercial perspective, hop creep could cause potentially expensive or damaging product recalls if the product is found to not match the stated alcohol levels, or if vessels (cans or bottles) may be over-pressurised and at risk of exploding.

How to Prevent Hop Creep

There are a number of factors that are known to reduce (or promote) the occurrence of hop creep;

Hop Form

CO2 extracts and cryo pellets are less susceptible to causing hop creep.
Whole cone hops are more susceptible to causing hop creep as it is believed the associated enzymes are linked to the green matter of hops which are more prevalent in whole cones.

Dry Hop Duration

Shorter dry hop durations are known to reduce the impact and likelihood of hop creep.

Dry Hop Temperature

Recommended dry hop temperatures of 50 degrees fahrenheit (10 degrees celsius) or less to reduce or prevent hop creep. Warmer dry hop temperatures may promote it.
This is a general rule, but dry hopping several degrees below the particular yeasts recommended temperature range would also be an acceptable practice, since yeast activity would be potentially be minimised (or eliminated) if the wort is too cold.

Dry Hop Amount

Low dry hop loads (less than 2 pounds per bbl (barrel) or approx 6.5g/L) is recommended to reduce hop creep. Greater dry hop amounts may increase hop creep risk and severity.

Fermenter Yeast Load

Hop creep can only occur with active yeast in suspension of the beer - and the more yeast that are in suspension the more likely hop creep is to occur when dry hops are added.

Package Yeast Presence

If yeast is removed from the beer prior to packaging, this can prevent hop creep from occurring. This may not be possible at a homebrewing level, and hop presence is necessary/desirable in certain commercial styles of beer, such as those that are hazy.

Removal of yeast by pasteurization is guaranteed to completely stop and prevent hop creep from occurring, given yeast are essential for it to occur.

Sterile filtration can also be used to reduce the amount of yeast in the fermented beer prior to packaging.


We believe there is still more research and information to be uncovered in regards to understanding everything about hop creep. One question we still have is whether hop creep is likely to occur if you dry hop under the recommended 10 degrees celsius - but then after packaging the beer warms up again - since it has been stated that the enzymes that cause hop creep remain active in the beer even after the hops themselves have been removed.

What can be concluded though, is that hop creep is real and that brewers should at the very least be aware of it and can opt to take measures to combat it if they choose. For some, a few extra gravity points and higher alcohol content may be beneficial - but the potential side effects like diacetyl production and excess CO2 should also be taken into consideration.

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Friday 26 November 2021

Coconspirators Brewing Co - Who Put Their Hand In The Kooka's Jar - Beer Review

Brewed By: Coconspirators Brewing Co (Brunswick, Victoria, Australia)
Beer: Who Put Their Hand In The Kooka's Jar? (Pastry Stout)
ABV: 9%
Malts: Pale, Munich, Rolled Oats, Roasted Barley, Crystal
Adjuncts: Lactose, Cacao Nibs
Hops: Bravo
IBU: Unknown

Coconspirators Who Put Their Hand in the Kooka's Jar in the Craftd Alpha glass

"We've teamed up with Kookas to raid the cookie jar and bring you this 'monster' beer. Chewy chocolate and refreshing raspberry come together for a delicious midnight snack. A perfect pastry stout so decadent, you won't care how the cookie crumbles."


Who Put Their Hand in the Kooka's Jar is a fun-sounding dessert beer with a really cool and enticing can label design. Released by Coconspirators Brewing Co, we came across this one as part of a mixed variety pack of craft beers.

As you can see from the overview above - there's a large variety of malts involved in making this beer which leads to a mixture of complex flavours, however, it really seems to miss the mark in terms of enjoy-ability and balance.

From the can we get a very dark - deep brown or perhaps even black hue, that has also seeped and dirtied the colour of the thick foamy head that sits on top.
First impressions on the nose are predominantly raspberry, but very slight hints of lactose sneak through as well.

In terms of mouthfeel, the term "chewy" used by Coconspirators themselves is accurate and apt and really sums it up well.

Initial taste with each sip is sweet - very sweet. The malt combination works well to provide a thick and robust platform, but "zingy" was a word that quickly came to mind to describe the harsh tartness that followed - and this is where the problem lies with this beer. The initial sweetness is very quickly overwhelmed by this tart raspberry flavour and really sticks around on the tongue - leaving a tangy and astringent after taste that diminishes the enjoyment. This is most likely from the raspberry's - which seem to have imparted more of their bitter notes than sweetness - and combined with the tart flavours of cacao nibs - it all becomes a bit much.

Coconspirators Who Put Their Hand in the Kooka's Jar Can

We found the flavours did mellow a little as the temperature of the class rose a few degrees so was closer to the recommended serving temperature for a stout beer like this - or perhaps our senses were just dulled a little from the 9% ABV.

Unfortunately this one was not particularly enjoyable, especially when compared to another dessert beer we reviewed recently - Deed's Brewing Double Imperial Brown Ale - which although is a different style of beer, uses similar ingredients in lactose and raspberry which have been combined for a much nicer and more "dessert-like" beer.



Tuesday 23 November 2021

Ocean Reach Brewing - Hazy IPA - Beer Review

Brewed By: Ocean Reach Brewing (Phillip Island, Australia)
Beer: Hazy IPA
ABV: 6%
Malts: Unknown
Hops: El Dorado
IBU: Unknown

Ocean Reach Brewing - Hops to Home - Hazy IPA Can

"A single hop Hazy IPA packed with bold tropical fruit flavours, reminiscent of pineapple and mango. So ride, boldly ride, to the end of the haziness. Rise, boldly rise, till you find El Dorado"


Another special release beer in partnership with Hops to Home - Ocean Reach Brewing's Hazy IPA is another tasty example within the Hazy IPA genre.

The timing of this tasting was excellent - with our latest SMaSH brew using the same single hop variety, El Dorado, as what this Hazy IPA has.

The can design itself is pretty cool, with it's elements giving a subtle nod to the South American myth of El Dorado.

Opening the can and pouring into our Craftd Alpha glass, and unsurprisingly we have a light straw coloured beer with the slightest of golden tinges poking through. A prominent white fluffy cloud-like head settles on top and slowly dissipates away.

Ocean Reach Brewing Hazy IPA in the Craftd Alpha glass

As you'd expect, we've got lots of fruit notes - we picked up alot of stone fruit and melon flavours and not so much of the pineapple and mango that were claimed in the tasting notes. But in any case, the flavour is good and surprisingly complex considering there's only a single hop variety involved (hence why we wanted to test this hop for ourselves in our own beer).

There were some slight piney and dank undertones, and the bitterness tended to linger in the mouth. We also picked up a noticeable alcohol taste which is not entirely surprising given the 6% ABV, but perhaps seemed a little more pronounced than in other hazy IPA's we've had.

Mouthfeel is nice and light, making for an overall enjoyable beer and an excellent example of what can be achieved with a single hop variety like El Dorado.



Monday 22 November 2021

How To Test Hydrometer Accuracy

Hydrometers are a simple but incredibly important piece of equipment for professional brewers and home brewers alike. They are used to measure the specific gravity of a fluid - which gives a reading on the density of that fluid. In the brewing world - there are two (2) main reasons to take hydrometer readings;

  1. By taking gravity readings before and after fermentation, we are able to tell the alcoholic content of the beer (by using the figures in a specific formula)
  2. By taking gravity readings over consecutive days, we are able to verify when fermentation has finished/completed (once there are no more changes to the gravity reading)
For these reasons, it's important your hydrometer is reading accurately. The process for testing their accuracy is very simple.

Fill the hydrometer test/sample tube with tap water - as close to the hydrometers calibrated temperature as possible. Our hydrometer is calibrated for 20c, so we're using water close to this temperature.

Place the hydrometer into the test/sample tube and check the reading. As per the photo below, it should be right on 1.000. Remember if the water temperature you are testing isn't close to the calibrated temperature then the reading will likely be out by a few points (or more).

Testing your hydrometer in water should give a reading close to 1.000

Most hydrometers will come with a correction scale that you can use to adjust the reading based on any temperature difference/deviation from the calibrated temperature.

Unfortunately if you're testing at the right the temperature and the reading is still out - hydrometers can't easily be recalibrated. In this case you have two (2) options;

  1. Make a note of the difference in the reading and adjust future readings accordingly
  2. Purchase a new hydrometer
Thankfully hydrometers are not particularly expensive so if you find your hydrometer isn't accurate, it's definitely worthwhile considering a replacement to ensure your gravity readings are correct.

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Friday 19 November 2021

Lallemand Verdant IPA - Yeast Overview

LalBrew® Verdant IPA was specially selected in collaboration with Verdant Brewing Co. (UK) for its ability to produce a variety of hop-forward and malty beers. Prominent notes of apricot and undertones of tropical fruit and citrus merge seamlessly with hop aromas. With medium-high attenuation, LalBrew® Verdant IPA leaves a soft and balanced malt profile with slightly more body than a typical American IPA yeast strain. This highly versatile strain is well suited for a variety of beer styles including NEIPA, English IPA, American Pale, English Bitter, Sweet Stout and Sours.

We've used this yeast recently for the first time so wanted to compile details on some of it's unique and interesting aspects. It's a new yeast variety, released in 2020 so it's good to get some more information about this 'new kid on the block' to help those who already are, or may be looking at using this particular yeast variety in their next brew.

As outlined in the blurb above (taken directly from Lallemand's website), Verdant IPA is a specialty ale yeast, made in collaboration between Verdant Brewing Co in the UK and Lallemand.  "Collaboration" is an interesting term - the story appears to have started with Lallemand approaching Verdant Brewing Co (along with other breweries) to trial a new strain of NEIPA yeast back in 2017. The results of this trial aren't exactly known (but it was potentially what is now the Lallemand American East Coast ale yeast). Presumably not entirely happy with the yeast provided by Lallemand, Verdant went back to them suggesting they instead look at their house strain of yeast - which had recently been 'banked' in a laboratory.

Verdant had been using this particular house yeast strain for years - originally derived from the English ale strain -  London Ale III, it had been harvested and re-pitched several times which caused changes/mutation of the yeast to occur. This mutated version was comprised of three (3) separate yeast strains, and the specific yeast strain used to make Verdant IPA was captured and isolated from this original culture. The specific strain was chosen as it was the domainant strain in the culture, but also because of it's unique properties - throwing notes of apricot and creamy vanilla. You would suspect this particular strain to be somewhat similar to London Ale III, and it probably is, but Lallemand insist it is "genetically different".

Although the name Verdant IPA indicates it's a dedicated IPA yeast - it can certainly be used in other styles of beer - from English Ales all the way to Stouts, Porters and even Sours. Verdant Brewing Co themselves tend to focus on hop forward styles like IPA's so it's no surprise that these are the sorts of beer styles this yeast is suited to. 

Lallemand Verdant IPA Yeast package (11g)

We do feel though that having "IPA" in the name was perhaps misleading, since it's definitely suitable for other styles and may lead people to negate it as an option if they're looking at yeasts to use for non-IPA beers - like those previously listed.

The flavour profile is described as clean with slight fruity esters. Common flavour descriptors are most notably apricot, slight peach undertones and some sweeter notes such as creamy vanilla. 

Some of the general properties of the Verdant IPA yeast is that it's a top cropping yeast which generally creates a large, fluffy krausen. Fermentations tend to start quite fast after pitching yeast, with minimal lag times and usually signs of fermentation being underway within 24 hours. Fermentation generally completes quickly, sometimes in as little as five (5) days. This of course varies depending on a number of factors such as fermentation temperature, pitching rates, wort gravity/fermentability etc.

Pale Ale with Verdant IPA yeast fermenting - note the fluffy white krausen

Verdant IPA yeast differentiates itself from existing Lallemand yeast strains because of it's attentuation rate. Whereas other Lallemand yeasts such as their New England American East Coast, BRY-97 American West Coast or Nottingham have attentuation rates over 81%, Verdant IPA only has an (average) attentuation rate of 78%. Although this is only a few percent points of difference, it does lead to a noticeable difference in the finished beer. It also has notably different biotransformation properties when compared to other ale yeasts in the Lallemand range.

Fermentation Schedule 

James Heffron from Verdant Brewing Co outlines the fermentation schedule they use for this yeast, which is to pitch at 18c, hold the fermentation at 19c, then when there's about 10 gravity points left let the temperature "free rise" up for a diacetyl rest - usually to somewhere around 22-23c. It is known for producting diacetyl but does a good job of cleaning it up at the end of fermentation. He also mentions that for low gravity beers they pitch at 19c, then let the temperature from fermentation ramp up to 22c where it is capped and controlled/maintained.

They then typically perform a soft crash, which involves dropping the temperature of the fermenter down to 15c to help the yeast drop out of suspension, and then dry hop at this temperature. This is to help avoid hop creep and the over attenuation associated with it. The dry hops are added at 15c, and this temperature is maintained for about 24 hours after which point the hops are roused (presumably with CO2) and the cold crash is started. The total contact time for dry hops is quite low, at around 72 hours total time before being transferred to the bright tank.

Dry hopping during active fermentation to achieve biotransformation is of course possible but not something James recommends and is not something they do at Verdant Brewing Co. James argues that you inevitably lose some of the hop flavours and aromas when dry hopping during fermentation due to the CO2 being created and expelled from the fermenter that can carry the desirable aromas from the dry hops out of the fermenter and beer.

In relation to yeast pitching, James suggests pitching the yeast directly into your wort and that prior rehydration is not necessary - even for higher gravity beers. Lallemand do recommend though that you consider yeast stress levels when making higher gravity beers by adjusting pitching rates and ensuring sufficient nutrients and oxygen levels are present in the wort to ensure a healthy fermentation.

With regards to pressure fermentation, Verdant don't ferment their beers under pressure, however Lallemand advised that a number of tests performed by other breweries were done under pressure so it is definitely possible to do with this yeast. It is well known though that pressure fermentations tends to suppress ester formations which may not be desirable with this particular yeast. James does note that they "cap" or seal their fermenters right at the tail end of fermentations to build some positive CO2 pressure in the headspace (and beer) to help prevent oxidation from occurring during the dry hopping phase.

Key Stats/Information

Beer Styles

New England IPA (NEIPA), English IPA, American Pale, English Bitters, Sweet Souts, Sours


Medium to high (~78%)

Pitching Rate

0.5-1g/L of wort to achieve a minimum of 2.5 - 5 million cells/mL
Verdant Brewing Co pitch at 0.75g/L for all their beers according to James Heffron



Recommended Fermentation Temperature

18-23c (64-73F)

Alcohol Tolerance

10% ABV

Source: Youtube video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNVWwSjIOEY

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Tuesday 16 November 2021

Inkbird ITC-308 Wifi Temperature Controller - Review

Temperature control is a very important aspect of a successful fermentation. Since fermentation is an exothermic process (ie. creates heat) - temperature control is vital to ensure off flavours associated with high fermentation temperatures are suppressed - leading to a better tasting final product.

One of the most common methods homebrewers use to control fermentation temperature is to put their fermenter into a fridge - allowing the fermenter to be cooled to keep fermentation temperatures in check. The challenge with this process is monitoring the temperature of the wort in the fermenter and controlling the fridge accordingly - as leaving the fridge powered on all the time would see temperatures drop outside of the optimal temperature range for most yeasts and result in stalled fermentations when the yeast get too cold.

Inkbird ITC-308 Wifi temperature controller display

Thankfully, Inkbird have a product that meets these needs and is packed full of great features - the Inkbird ITC-308 Wifi temperature controller.

We've been using ours for several years now and have had excellent results with it and wanted to share out knowledge and feedback on this product.

The unit itself is a made of sturdy plastic, with a simple screen showing the current temperature (PV), set/target temperature (SV), heating and cooling indicator lights and buttons for "Set", "Up", and "Down". There's also a dedicated hole at the top so the display can be mounted onto a simple screw or hook which is a simple, yet great addition.

Connected to the main display unit is the temperature probe. This can be dropped into your thermowell (if your fermenter has one), or otherwise can just be taped directly onto the side of the fermenter (which is the method we have always used). If you go with this method then make sure you put something covering the outside of the probe (like a sponge) to stop the ambient air from affecting the temperature reading. It is not designed to be submerged into liquid/wort directly so this is definitely not recommended. The length of the temperature probe cable is more than sufficient which gives great flexibility in terms of where the display unit can be kept or mounted.

Inkbird ITC-308 Wifi temperature probe taped to outside of FermZilla fermenter

The last thing connected to the main display unit are the power sockets - clearly marked with "heating" and "cooling" which make this unit truly plug and play. When the configurable temperature thresholds are reached, power is sent to either the heating or cooling outlets which will then power on whatever device is connected. Make sure you get the model with the correct sockets for your country/region though.

Getting the unit going is simple enough by using the Inkbird Smart App (available on iOS and Android devices), and pairing the device with your phone. Using the app, you then configure it to join your wifi network which leads us to one of the first limitations of this device - it's only compatible with 2.4GHz wifi networks. Not a particularly big deal at the moment with most modem/routers supporting both 5GHz and 2.4GHz, however it's only a matter of time until 2.4GHz is phased out completely which will lead to this particular model becoming obsolete. Hopefully a 5GHz compatible version will be released in the near future to address this.

The app itself is very good and intuitive to use. You can configure all the settings and thresholds for your unit through the app. There are values for high and low target temperatures, as well as difference values - which represent the difference between the actual reading and target reading that it takes to trigger the power output. For example, if I have a low temperature value of 20c, and a cooling difference value of 1c, cooling will kick in when the temperature probe returns a value of 21c. You're also able to enter values for refrigeration delay so prevent issues with fridge compressors being turned off and back on too rapidly (which can lead to compressor damage/failures). You can also recalibrate the unit if the temperature being displayed is inaccurate, and switch between celsius and fahrenheit values.

Another great feature of the app is that it also works when not connected to your wifi network meaning you can check the current temperature reading from anywhere in the world - so long as you have an internet connection on your phone. 

Also included in the app is historical graphs showing temperature readings every 15 minutes for the past 7 days. These readings can be exported in a CSV file from your mobile device so you can plot the readings onto a graph like the example below.

An example temperature graph made from a CSV exported from the Inkbird Smart App

Unfortunately there's no other method you can use to connect or monitor the temperature of the unit - including from a computer or standalone web interface - the only way is through the mobile app which we found a little disappointing. The ability to integrate with 3rd party apps like BrewFather would be hugely beneficial and hopefully another feature that could be included in later releases.

The price point of the unit is very strong - generally selling for well under AU$50 which represents very good value for money.


  • Simple, sturdy plastic design
  • Clear, easy to read display
  • Convenient hole for mounting on a screw/hook
  • Mobile app for monitoring and configuration that still works when your phone isn't on the same wifi network as the temperature controller
  • Affordable
  • Plenty of length on temperature probe cable
  • Historical data can be exported to CSV file
  • True plug and play with standard power sockets


  • Only compatible with legacy 2.4GHz wifi
  • Instructions are vague
  • Historical data only kept for 7 days
  • Can only be connected/managed via Inkbird wifi app - no capability with web browsers or other 3rd party add-ons/API's

We'd highly recommend the Inkbird ITC-308 Wifi for anyone looking for a good temperature controller. We're also hopeful of an updated version being released in the future with 5GHz wifi capability and more capabilities to integrate with other systems (instead of just the Inkbird app).

If you're after a more advanced temperature controller, it's also worth checking out our review of KegLand's RAPT Temperature Controller as well.

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Monday 15 November 2021

BrewZilla Brew Day - El Dorado Smash

Here's a run down of our recent El Dorado SMaSH brew day! Our first attempt at a 30 minute boil, and our best result in terms of hitting efficiency targets.

Here is the link where you can view the full recipe

Check our review and tasting results for the El Dorado Smash

Water Additions

We keep our water additions minimal by using four (4) simple ingredients for making adjustments to water chemistry. Campden tablets for removing chlorine, and magnesium sulphate, calcium chloride and calcium sulphate for making other adjustments to key minerals. Calculations are all done using BrewFather software - for this brew we went with the standard Pale Ale water profile in BrewFather.

The calculated numbers from BrewFather are below;

Ca2+ (Calcium): 126
Mg2+ (Magnesium): 18
Na+ (Sodium): 16
Cl- (Chloride): 55
SO42- (Sulfate): 299
HCO3- (Bicarbonate): 46

Digiboil Sparge Water Heater

Our recently purchased sparge water heater, the Kegland Digiboil also got it's debut run and worked incredibly well. Being able to set the desired sparge water temperature then leave it until it was time to sparge was incredibly convenient - no more messing around with hitting and maintaing the right water temperature with a pot on the stove top.

35L Digiboil Sparge water heater

Since we were doing a smaller batch (23L) - we needed less than 7L of sparge water. Was disappointed that the Digiboil volume markings only started at 10L, so we just estimated where the 7L mark was. We more than likely filled with closer to 8L but better off having too much than not enough sparge water. Turns out we were pretty close as there wasn't much extra sparge water left over at the end.

The Mash

Mashing in and the mash itself all went well and without incident. This was our first time using the pro screen for the BrewZilla which removes the overflow centre pipe. It was much easier to stir the mash without having to deal with the centre pipe in the middle.

BrewZilla 35L with pro screen (no overflow centre pipe)

After doughing in our 5.5kg of Maris Otter malted grain we left the grain bed to settle for 10 minutes before starting the pump for wort recirculation.

Grain bed - 5.5kg of Maris Otter shortly after doughing in

In order to try and hit and maintain a more accurate mash bed temperature, we utilised a long probe thermometer through the glass lid opening of our BrewZilla. The long probe allows us to measure the temperature a few inches into the grain bed. As is well known with the BrewZilla's - there is a noticeable temperature difference between what is displayed on the screen since the temperature probe is located at the base of the unit, and the temperature at the top of the mash. It certainly takes some time for the temperature to normalise and stabilise throughout the mash - but we were eventually able to hit and maintain a reasonably constant 66C as called for in the recipe.

66c on the long probe thermometer through the lid of the BrewZilla

Recirculation flow was good with the flow control almost set to fully open. We stopped the pump and gave the mash bed a good stir 3 or 4 times through the 60 minute mash. There was a noticeable foam on top of the mash bed throughout so we weren't really able to see or capture the improved clarity of the wort - but it definitely got there in the end.

Wort clarity at the end of the mash

Mash Out

This is the first time we actually remembered to perform a mash out - which is where the temperature of the mash bed is raised from 66c to 76c. It took a good 10-15 minutes for the temperature to raise throughout the entire mash bed, and once it did we left it for a further 10 minutes. This definitely seemed to help with the flow of water when sparging.

We also encountered some difficulty with removing the malt pipe. As you'd expect - it's pretty heavy when full of wetted grain - and the metal handle that fits in the two holes on either side of the malt pipe only just fits. The handle slipped out a couple of times when attempting to lift the malt pipe - thankfully before it was too high above the wort which would have lead to hot wort being splashed everywhere.

Pre Boil Gravity

After taking a pre-boil gravity sample/reading we were pleased to hit our expected number of 1.053 exactly. We've previously fallen short of expected  efficiency numbers - most likely because of forgetting to complete the mash out step. We don't normally get too concerned with hitting numbers exactly - as long as we make good beer - but it's always reassuring to know your processes are working well and improving.

Our pre-boil wort sample for gravity reading

One thing to note when taking pre-boil gravity readings is to make sure the wort is properly stirred before taking a sample. Due to the nature of sparging - the wort at the bottom of the vessel may contain more sugar than the sparge water sitting on top until it is thoroughly stirred through. We made sure to give it a good stir, and actually took several samples from the tap the bottom and poured them back into the top to try and get as accurate a reading as possible.

Pre-boil gravity reading - 1.053 - right on target

The Boil

We had a slightly lower pre-boil volume due to opting for a smaller batch size. Boil time was reached quickly - noticeably quicker than previous, larger batches. There was a large amount of hot break that formed too so we were constantly stirring and breaking the surface tension of the wort as it came to a boil to prevent the dreaded and messy boil over.

Recirculate the wort through the hop spider to filter any grains out of the wort

Tip - when waiting for the wort to come to a boil - put your recirculation arm into your hop spider and run the pump at full speed. This will help to filter out any grains that escaped the malt pipe and made it into the wort - and also aid with bringing the wort up to boil temperature more quickly

Plenty of hot break at the beginning of the boil

Chilling the wort

We use the included immersion chiller to bring the wort down to yeast pitching temperature at the end of the boil. The lower boil volume meant once again that this process went a bit quicker than it had for previous larger batches.

Chilling the wort

We use the recirculation arm during chilling to help move the wort around against the chiller to improve the cooling efficiency. We also jiggle the immersion chiller every few minutes to help agitate the wort which also assists with cooling.

The old shirts are over the connections on the chiller to help prevent any leaks from the hose connections from spraying into the wort.

The spent water from chilling is used to water the garden.

Transferring from BrewZilla to FermZilla

Once our wort was at pitching temperature, we use the BrewZilla pump to transfer the wort into our FermZilla fermenter. We hold the output hose high above the FermZilla opening to create splashing and aid in aerating the wort prior to pitching the yeast. Who knows how much benefit it actually gives, but it's got to be better than nothing, right?

Transferring wort from BrewZilla to FermZilla

Original Gravity Reading 

Our original gravity reading (OG) was a pleasing 1.055 - only 1 point below our expected target. A new efficiency record for us - which we also attribute to remembering the mash out step that has been previously forgotten in past brews.

Original Gravity (OG) reading - 1.055

Yeast Pitching and Active Fermentation

Our Verdant IPA yeast was pitched at 22.5c and fermentation was well underway by the next morning.

Once fermentation was underway the temperature was dropped to maintain a constant 19-20c

Nice fluffy white krausen showing fermentation is well underway

Gravity readings were taken on Day 6 and Day 7 showing a constant 1.015 - a couple of points higher than the expected 1.013, but indicating the final gravity (FG) had been reached

1.015 on consecutive days - FG reached

Test tasting at this stage was promising - very prominent nutty taste from the malt - good bitterness, slight alcohol taste but no trace of any green or off flavours.

At this point we started the 'soft crash' by dropping the temperature of the fermenter to 15c in preparation for dry hopping. We use a soft crash to avoid hop creep.

Our 80g dry hop was measured and put into the fermenter - left for 24 hours at 15c before cold crashing to 2-3c

80g El Dorado dry hop

Here is the full chart/log of the fermentation temperature

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