Wednesday 6 December 2023

Munich Helles - All Grain Recipe

The Munich Helles style has been sitting on our To Brew List for some time now, so it's about time we finally got around to designing the recipe (and brewing one!).

We've taken inspiration from David Heath's YouTube video where he discusses his own take of this recipe. Our recipe is ever so slightly different because of metric measurements instead of imperial (we tend to round things to the nearest 100g).

The recipe is fairly straightforward, comprising of mostly German Pilsner malt. We then have 4.5% of Gladiator malt which is Gladfield's equivalent of Carapils/Carafoam which should aid with body, mouthfeel and head retention.

We then have another 4.5% of Gladfield Vienna malt to add a little bit of extra sweetness and depth of flavour.

We then have a small amount of Aurora malt, which is Gladfield's melanoidin malt to really help give some rich bready, fruitcake tones, as well as add a little bit of colour to the grist. These are the flavours that are typically generated by doing a decoction style mash (which we won't be attempting here).

For the hops we're going with Saaz - you can substitute for other varieties as long as they are the old-school noble ones like hallertauer, tettnang etc.


Batch Volume: 22L 
Boil Time: 60 minutes
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%

Original Gravity: 1.047
Final Gravity: 1.008
IBU (Tinseth): 19
BU/GU: 0.41
Colour: 8.5 EBC
Expected ABV: 5.1%


Temperature: 65c - 60 minutes
Mash Out: 75c - 10 minutes


4.0 kg - Gladfield German Pilsner Malt (89%)
0.2 kg - Gladfield Gladiator Malt (4.5%)
0.2 kg - Gladfield Vienna Malt (4.5%)
0.1 kg - Gladfield Aurora Malt (2%)


60 mins - Saaz - 16 IBU
5 mins - Saaz - 3 IBU


Fermentis SafLager W-34/70 (2 packets)


10°C - 5 days
13°C - 2 days
17°C - 1 day
19°C - 1 day


2.4 CO2-vol

Water Profile (Brewfather's "Lager" Water Profile)

Ca2+ (Calcium): 12
Mg2+ (Magnesium): 6
Na+ (Sodium): 35
Cl- (Chloride): 57
SO42- (Sulfate): 21
HCO3- (Bicarbonate): 35

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Tuesday 5 December 2023

Gladfield American Pale Ale - BrewZilla Brew Day

Here's a quick run down and photo dump from our most recent BrewZilla brew day (night). Details of the recipe can be found here.

We've brewed this batch as a means to use up a whole bunch of leftover hops we have sitting around in our fridge. There were some varities that had obviously staled and didn't make the cut and were subsequently tossed, but we're reasonably confident those that made it into the beer were still OK - certainly not the freshest but didn't have any strange smells to them, so will be interesting to see how it turns out!

Laying everything out the day/night before we find helps us feel more organised and a little less frantic.

As usual we setup our BrewZilla and Digiboil units and adjusted the water accordingly.

After mashing in we left the grain bed to settle for 10 minutes before taking our first pH reading. Pretty much right on the money at 5.48 for the mash

We had some dramas with our sparge water - our initial acid addition left the pH a little too high (I think it was in the high 5's - maybe 5.9) - so I added a tiny bit more, and then after checking again we were far too acidic at around 4.8. Essentially I had to dilute the mash water with more filtered tap water to raise the pH again (used about 2L all up) and got the reading pretty much the same as the mash pH at 5.49.

Around 0.1mL is all it took to get such a massive drop in pH of around 1 full pH point - I maybe need to get a dropper or something for these acid additions to make them more accurate.

Using our Sargeant Sparge Head on the recirculation arm, our recirculation flow was fairly good. We didn't bother using any rice hulls in this one since we didn't have any wheat or oats which can really thicken up the mash. Though from memory, I think Gladfield suggest using them with the toffee malt, but we got away without them this time.

After our 60 minute mash at 65°C followed by a mash out at 75°C for 10 minutes, we sparged and whilst waiting for the wort to come to the boil we took a gravity reading and got 1.048 - 1 point above what the recipe predicted.

After reaching a boil we added our hop additions as per the recipe before chilling the wort down using our stainless immersion chiller

We took another gravity reading after the boil which was 1.049 - close enough to the 1.050 we were expecting

We then transferred to our Nano-X fermenter. We haven't been using this one lately as we've been going for the simplicity of our Apollo Titan, however we wanted to give the Nano-X another go this time. I think we're a bit worried about the lid not sealing properly, but we did some quick testing before filling and we're pretty sure we got the lid sealed OK (using some food grade lubricant on the seal is definitely a must to get it to seal correctly)

Due to the relatively warm weather on our brew night, we ended up transferring the wort at around 28°C as we couldn't get it much cooler than this with our warm tap water. We had planned to chill the wort in the fermenter in our fermentation fridge prior to pitching the yeast, but in our haste poured the packet in at 28°C! Certainly not the original plan, however yeast is often rehydrated at temperatures like this, so we chilled the wort to around 20°C over the next few hours in the fridge, well before signs of fermentation had started so we're reasonably confident this one will be OK.

Fermentation was underway within 24 hours of pitching the yeast.

Update: After dry hopping this beer it turned out way too bitter for our liking - check out our Tasting Results and Review post for more info.

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Monday 4 December 2023

Gladfield American Pale Ale - All Grain Recipe

For our latest brew. we've taken inspiration from New Zealand based malting company, Gladfield - as our local home brew shop (41 Pints of Beer) sell mostly Gladfield malts. We've got a bunch of leftover hops from previous brew days we need to use up, so we're going to take the grain bill from the Gladfield recipe, and adjust the hop schedule to use up our leftovers.

We've dubbed this one the "Kitchen Sink" American Pale Ale in reference to the old adage about throwing everything except the kitchen sink at something because of the mish mash of hops we're throwing at this one.


Batch Volume: 22L 
Boil Time: 30 minutes
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%

Original Gravity: 1.050
Final Gravity: 1.010
IBU (Tinseth): 42
BU/GU: 0.83
Colour: 12 EBC
Expected ABV: 5.3%


Temperature: 65c - 60 minutes
Mash Out: 75c - 10 minutes


4.2 kg - Gladfield American Ale Malt (86%)
0.3 kg - Gladfield Light Crystal Malt (6%)
0.3 kg - Gladfield Toffee Malt (6%)
0.1 kg - Gladfield Chit Malt (2%)


30 mins - CTZ (16 IBU)
10 mins - Chinook (9 IBU)
10 mins - Galaxy (7 IBU)

Whirlpool (80°C for 15 mins)
Centennial - 2 IBU
Chinook - 2 IBU
Galaxy - 3 IBU

Dry Hop (for 3 days prior to transferring to keg)
30g - Chinook
30g - CTZ
30g - Galaxy
18g - Centennial


Fermentis SafAle US-05 (1 packet - dry)


20c for 14 days


2.4 CO2-vol

Water Profile (Brewfather's "Pale Ale" Water Profile)

Ca2+ (Calcium): 108
Mg2+ (Magnesium): 18
Na+ (Sodium): 35
Cl- (Chloride): 57
SO42- (Sulfate): 300
HCO3- (Bicarbonate): 35

Check out our Gladfield American Pale Ale BrewZilla Brew Day article to see how it went.

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Thursday 30 November 2023

KegLand - pH Meter (KL04169) - Hands on Review


We're big proponents for water chemistry adjustment in brewing. Water is, after all, the biggest single ingredient used when making beer, and there's no doubting the science and research behind the role it plays when making high quality beer.

We've written several articles around water chemistry in brewing on this site, and even made it on Spike Brewing's website with our very own feature article on this very topic - but understanding what adjustments you need to make is only the first piece of the puzzle. The second part is having the equipment you need to accurately and reliably measure your water to ensure you're making the correct adjustments, and putting the correct starting numbers into your brewing software.

pH is one of the key metrics when making water adjustments - and as you'd expect, you need a pH meter in order to test the pH of your source water and brewing water throughout the brew day, to make sure things are tracking as you expect.

We've been using our KegLand pH meter (KL04169) for over a year now, and we wanted to share our experience with this piece of equipment for others looking at including a pH meter in their brewing equipment arsenal, or looking to upgrade or replace an existing one.

Packaging & Storage

The KegLand pH meter comes in a nice solid, plastic case. Having a rigid case like this is great to prevent the meter from being damaged when not in use. There's also a clip-in style cradle that holds the meter in place within the case, so it doesn't move around at all when stored.

Instructions are included too (also available online), which is great and gives you some useful information about how to use the pH meter, take care of it, and perform a calibration to ensure it continues to give you accurate results. 

Importantly, the sensitive electrode on the end that is used to take measurements in fluid samples also has a cap, seal, and small piece of sponge in the bottom. It's imperative that the pH meter is stored in a special electrolyte solution to maintain the electrode and prevent it from drying out, so a small amount should be added to this cap to keep it topped up as required (the pH meter ships with some storage solution already in the cap). 

Don't let this intimidate or deter you though - the storage solution is cheap, and you'll only need a tiny bit in the cap for storage, so even a small bottle will last a long time. You will need to purchase this separately, and currently sells for AU$4 on the KegLand website for 25mL.

pH storage solution

One thing we have noticed is that if storing the meter lying down, even with the rubber seal in the end cap, we still had the storage solution leak out and crystalize on the outside of the cap, leading to the sponge and electrode inside drying out. This can deteriorate the life expectancy of the electrode (or ruin it completely), but we were lucky in our case that it's still working fine and giving us accurate results after rehydrating it with more storage solution in the cap. We tend to store it on it's end (with the electrode facing down) which seems to help prevent the storage solution from leaking out of the cap. Another tip to avoid this happening is to not add too much storage solution into the cap - you really only need a very small amount in there.

Lastly, within the case you'll find three calibration buffer solutions which when mixed with water, give a known pH value that you can use to calibrate your pH meter - more on this shortly.

The pH Meter

The pH meter itself is bright orange in colour, made entirely of plastic and has a small monochromatic screen used to display your readings and other information. As you'd expect for something you need to submerse in liquids, the unit itself is water resistant, and along with the screen it features three buttons on the front; CAL for calibration, HOLD to hold the currently displayed value on screen, and ON OFF.  

The pen-style design is good and measures 185mm high x 40mm in diameter. It's lightweight (88g), and the unit can be held and operated with a single hand, including pressing the buttons. The screen is adequate too, with decent brightness and is able to be viewed from varying angles to be able to read what is displayed on the screen.

Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC) is another neat feature too, meaning your readings don't have to be taken at a specific temperature to be accurate. The recommended temperature range for readings is from 0-50°C - though we'd recommend sticking to the middle part of this range - as sticking the meter in hot water/wort will shorten the life of the sensitive electrode.

Replaceable Electrode

We mentioned above that the electrode on any pH meter is a sensitive component, and it's considered a consumable part. Even the most well looked after pH meter will eventually have it's electrode deteriorate and need to be replaced. For this reason, it's a really good idea to invest in a pH meter where you can replace just the electrode, and not have to purchase an entire replacement pH meter.

Our spare replacement electrode - probably a good idea to always keep one spare on standby - you don't want to be stuck without a working pH meter on brew day!

Telltale signs of the electrode needing replacing are wildly inaccurate or unstable/fluctuating readings - even after performing a calibration.

As you'd expect, the KegLand pH meter does allow for the electrode to be replaced, meaning when the time comes you can simply swap out the electrode. The electrode currently sells for about a third of the cost of the entire pH meter, so it's definitely more cost effective to replace the part only (as you'd expect). We haven't had to replace our electrode (yet) but we do have a spare on standby and ready to go for when the time comes.


Calibration is an important part of ensuring your pH meter gives you accurate readings. Some cheaper pH meters only feature single or dual-point calibration, making them less accurate than the triple-point calibration featured on the KegLand pH meter. It therefore comes with three different buffer solution powders that you can use for performing said calibration. It's recommended a calibration be run at least once a month to help maintain accuracy. Accuracy is claimed to be within 0.05pH.

The pH buffer solution powders are mixed with 250mL of (preferably distilled or deionized) water, and the resulting solutions have pH values of 4.00 (red), 6.86 (green) and 9.18 (purple) when at 25°C. The packets also have a temperature compensation table on the back so you can adjust them accordingly, however in our opinion the differences between 20-25°C (room temperature for most water) is almost negligible for brewing, so don't stress too much about your calibration water temp - just make sure it's not freezing or straight out of the fridge.

pH buffer solutions laid out and ready for mixing and calibration

The pH meter only comes with a single set of calibration powders, but additional ones can be purchased for AU$3.50, not particularly expensive so we always keep at least one spare set on-hand and ready to go.

The general consensus of storing these buffer solutions (once they've been mixed with water), is they'll keep for 3-6 months but we've kept them longer than this and found them to still work and be accurate. Keeping them stored in the fridge can help promote their longevity (but make sure you take them out and let them warm up to room temperature before using for calibration) - and as long as the solution is clear, it should be good to go. But given the price point these are at, replacing them once or twice a year shouldn't be a huge financial burden anyway.

To actually perform a calibration, remove the cap from the pH meter and turn it on by pressing the On Off button. Submerge the electrode in the buffer solution, give it a gentle stir and wait for the reading on the screen to stabilize. Press and hold the Cal button for 3 seconds and then release - "CAL" should then flash on screen. The meter is pretty clever and automatically knows what buffer solution you've submerged it in for calibration. It will display the current reading for 1 second, followed by the detected buffer solution value for 2 seconds, and will then flash "SA" on the screen (we're guessing this means "Save") and then the calibration is complete and it goes back into measurement mode.

An example of the calibration screen

Repeat the process for the other two buffer solutions, and you've then got a calibrated pH meter ready to go!

Using the pH Meter in Brewing

We've used our KegLand pH Meter for a number of brew days and have been very pleased with how it performs. We don't have another pH meter we could use to test the accuracy of this unit, but what we can say is that in every batch we've made, our readings have always come within a few points of what our brewing software (Brewfather) expected - based on our source water and grain bill. Our measured source water pH values have also closely matched what the expected values are based on our water quality reports from Sydney Water.

We don't want to go into too much detail around the role pH plays in brewing, but what we can say is that if you don't adjust your brewing water pH, the pH value will likely be too high and you'll extract more tannins from the grains, leading to astringent flavours ending up in your beer. It's important you treat and adjust the pH of your mash and sparge water. When we first started out we neglected to treat our sparge water and quickly realised this was a mistake!

Our untreated tap water had reading of 7.4 - far too high for brewing

The "sweet spot" for the pH for most beer styles is between 5.2 and 5.6, so after mashing in we let the grain bed settle for 10 minutes before taking a sample for our first reading. The KegLand pH Meter features automatic temperature compensation too, so the sample doesn't have to be at a particular temperature before measuring, but as we've previously mentioned, we'd recommend cooling down the sample to (preferably) somewhere in the 20°C-30°C range.

We take a small sample in a glass then sit the glass in a bowl of ice water. Given the relatively small sample size you need for a reading, it doesn't take too long to cool down in our experience, and after submerging the electrode in the wort, we've generally got a stable reading on screen within a matter of seconds.

Final Thoughts

There's no disputing the importance of pH when making beer, so if you're not not measuring the pH of your water and wort, you really should be. The KegLand pH Meter is an affordable and easy to use unit that will no doubt suit brewers of all skill levels. It has all the features you would need in such a meter, and importantly it has a replaceable electrode component meaning you won't need to fork out for an entirely new meter when the electrode inevitably starts becoming problematic.

Don't be deterred by the maintenance required on such a device either - they're a little more robust and resilient than you probably expect, as long as you treat them with a little bit of care. It's definitely worthwhile in our opinion to spend a bit extra and get yourself the storage solution, some extra calibration buffer solutions as well as a spare electrode to have on hand. Even with all this it comes in significantly cheaper than many other pH meters on the market, that probably don't really offer anything above and beyond what the KegLand pH Meter can do.

You can get the KegLand pH Meter from the KegLand website - currently selling for AU$36.

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Monday 20 November 2023

How to run highly carbonated beverages (like soda) in a kegerator system

No doubt the most popular use for kegerator setups at home is to have delicious beer readily available and served from a tap - but hey, if you're reading this you probably already know that kegerator's are awesome. What you may be wondering though is the same thing we were researching a few months ago, and that is how you can run more highly carbonated beverages like soda, premixed spirits or hard seltzer in a kegerator system without pouring loads of foam every time you open the tap.

Let's start with some basics on how a kegerator system works, as you'll need to understand how this problem occurs to understand how to fix it. Your drink of choice is stored in a keg, and the headspace of this keg is pressurised with carbon dioxide gas (CO2). This gas is absorbed into the liquid in the keg until it reaches it's saturation point where it won't absorb any more gas. It is this absorbed gas that causes carbonation or the fizziness in the drink. You need to keep this same pressure applied in the headspace of the keg even after it's fully carbonated to be used as the serving pressure. The serving pressure is the pressure in the headspace that is used to "push" the liquid out of the keg through the lines and tap and into your glass. 

In order for a kegerator system to work correctly, it needs to be "balanced". This balance is achieved by applying a sufficient amount of "resistance" to the liquid flowing out of the keg, through the beverage line and tap and into your glass. Failure to apply enough resistance to the liquid will result in fast, foamy pours as the carbonation (CO2 gas) rapidly comes out of solution when pouring, resulting in a flat, less fizzy final drink in your glass.

There's a number of things you can do in order to apply this resistance. Reduce the inner diameter (ID) of the beverage line being used and increasing the total length of the beverage line being used are the first two options, but you can also fit a flow control disconnect and/or flow control tap to provide even more resistance.

Let's look at a "real-world" example of how we setup our kegerator system for beer, and what we did when we wanted to serve a hard seltzer with much higher carbonation and serving pressure.

The first thing we need to figure out is what base carbonation level you're after - you can use a carbonation chart like the one below for this;

We drink mostly American Ales and Lagers, so according to the key in the bottom right corner of the chart above, we're after a carbonation range of 2.2-2.7 volumes of CO2. We prefer a bit more fizz so we'll go for the higher end of this range, and our kegerator is running at 5°C, so our target pressure is 15.5psi to achieve our desired carbonation at this temperature for our beer serving.

So we set out our beer kegs to ~15°C, and leave it to carbonate and once carbonated leave the same amount of pressure constantly connected to the keg for serving pressure.

We use 4mm ID beverage line at a length of 2.5m which gives us a good balance and provides sufficient resistance to avoid foamy pours on our beers. Everything is good, but what if one day we decide to brew a hard seltzer and carbonate it at 4 volumes of CO2 (which requires 30psi of pressure to carbonate and serve)?

Well we can tell you, running 30psi of serving pressure for a drink carbonated at 4 volumes of CO2 through 2.5m of 4mm ID beverage line will result in nothing but foam rapidly coming out of the tap. The resistance provided in this setup is just not sufficient for this pressure and carbonation level which is hardly a surprise as we've doubled the amount of pressure being used for serving when compared to what we use for our beers.

In terms of options to address this, 4mm is the smallest diameter we have available for our beverage line, so we can't change that. One thing we can do though is increase the length of line being used. We don't want to have to mess around with disconnecting our beverage line from the tap itself as it's a bit fiddly and time consuming to do so, so we can simply add an "extension" piece of line onto the existing 2.5m length to increase the total length. This is super easy by using a duotight joiner. We had a 90° elbow, but you can also get a straight joiner which is probably preferable. 

Using the joiner you can add a "temporary" length of beverage line to your existing length, and once you no longer need it you can quickly disconnect and remove it and go back to your original line length. We added another couple of metres to our existing 2.5m - we haven't measured it exactly but we'd estimate a total length of at least 5m now. This helped reduce the foam during the pours, but still wasn't quite "balanced" as we needed it and there was still too much foaming for our liking.

The next thing we did was added a flow contol disconnect onto our keg which allows us to further restrict the flow rate coming out of the keg - and when combined with the increased beverage line length we were able to get the resistance required for a nice pour at 30psi without excessive foaming. Flow control disconnects feature an adjustment dial on the top so you can adjust how much resistance is applied. Our is probably 90% open, so it's only applying a small amount of resistance but it made a big difference to the quality and consistency of our pours when running much higher carbonation like we required for our seltzer.

Using just the flow control disconnect on it's own with 2.5m of beer line wasn't sufficient, and neither was using a "regular" disconnect with the increased line length. It was only when we used both the increased line length and flow control disconnect in conjunction with each other that we got the result we were after.

You can see in the picture above of our setup - the black/yellow flow control disconnect and the grey 90° elbow joiner that connects our two separate beer line lengths together.

Yes, having metres of beer line coiled up in your kegerator can get a little bit untidy, but it's worth the compromise to get the ideal pour and not lose all your carbonation when serving from your tap.

When running a kegerator system it's often worthwhile to run an alternative to beer - sparkling water, premixed spirit and soda combinations (like bourbon and cola) and hard seltzer are some good examples of drinks that require more carbonation than beer. By implementing an increased line length and a flow control disconnect we were able to apply enough resistance to get good, foam-free pours at 30psi of pressure, and if we want to go back to serving beer on this line/tap, all we need to do is disconnect the line extension from the duotight joiner. We'll probably leave the flow control disconnect in place and just open it all the way up, but you could of course just go back to a regular ball lock disconnect as well.

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Monday 13 November 2023

Hard Seltzer - Tasting Results & Review

Our first attempt at a hard seltzer has now been kegged and conditioning for a number of weeks, so we wanted to share the results and highlight a few points from our seltzer-making experience.

Our seltzer was based on the 4 Day Lutra Hard Seltzer Recipe from Omega Yeast - and whilst we got what we consider a pretty good result here, don't be fooled into thinking this can be turned around in 4 days. Although fermentation will certainly complete in under 4 days since we're fermenting at a much higher temperature than regular ale yeast, some conditioning time with the yeast in-tank is definitely still required to help clean up the off-flavours that are created during fermentation. Even after a week it still had that classic green apple acetaldehyde flavour, and it benefited greatly from 12 or so days from pitching yeast to kegging, at which point it was pretty well ready for drinking.

For more info about this batch, check out our Hard Seltzer BrewZilla Brew Day and Hard Seltzer Recipe posts.


We were pretty impressed at how clear this one turned out, especially since we made no extra effort to clear it up by adding additional fining agents etc. We've heard from others experiences that the Lutra Kveik yeast drops pretty clear and our experience certainly seems to confirm this is the case. Fermenting at such a high temperature (30°C) was pretty different to what we normally do, but the results certainly speak for themselves.

What is apparent though is that the Proper Seltzer nutrients that were added did affect the colour of the final product. As you can see in the picture above, we've essentially got what looks like a glass of (sparkling) white wine, with a slight green/yellow tinge. Can't say we're entirely surprised by this given the colour the sugar solution turned after adding the nutrient at the end of the boil, but we were hoping it wouldn't have such a substantial impact on the final colour.


For those who haven't tried hard seltzer before, the natural flavour is a little hard to describe. Since it's fermented with brewing yeast, there is inevitably a little bit of flavour added - it's subtle and easily overpowered by back sweetening with your preferred mixer (more on this later), but I guess you'd describe it as a mild sort of 'tang'? You could drink it as is, unmixed, which isn't unpleasant or bad by any measure, it just isn't particularly exciting.

In terms of mouthfeel, it's thin as you'd expect, and you'll need to increase your carbonation accordingly because the regular 2.4 volumes of CO2 that you use for a typical beer will leave it somewhat lacking. We've got ours at around 26psi or so, but feel like we could easily increase it to 30 to really get those bubbles going and give it a little more 'bite'. This introduces some challenges when dealing with keg lines though which we'll cover later in this post. 

We started off with what was essentially distilled water, and didn't bother adding any other mineral adjustments like calcium chloride as we've seen others do to improve the mouthfeel. It's certainly something you could do if you really wanted to, but we doubt you'd notice any difference one way or the other.

We mentioned a moment ago back sweetening your seltzer to really make it your own. The possibilities are truly endless, and we opted to mix ours in the glass so we could try a few different flavours/options rather than dosing an entire keg to a single flavour.

We're in Australia so don't have access to the syrups you see mentioned in DIY seltzer YouTube videos online, but thankfully there are still a number of decent options available for us to use.

Sodastream syrups would be a good option, but we opted for a creamy soda syrup, as well as lemon, lime & bitters and pineapple & passionfruit flavoured cordials - all from Bickfords which is available in most supermarkets here.

Our initial selection of syrups/cordials for back sweetening

The beauty of mixing them in the glass is you can play around with different mixing ratios for different sweetness levels and we've enjoyed experimenting with them (but our favourite is definitely the soda syrup out of these three).

The natural seltzer taste is very easily overpowered with the mixers, and it also helps to adjust the colour to something a little more appealing and akin to what you'd expect from a flavoured seltzer.

Adding cordial or other syrups helps get the colour back to where it should be

You could easily dose an entire keg with whatever flavour (and ratio) you like, you'd just need to do some testing to figure out how much mixer you'll need to add to your keg to get the desired sweetness level.

Another thing worth mentioning is to be mindful if dosing your entire keg for back sweetening. If you're using anything containing fermentable sugar, you'll need to ensure you keep your keg permanently cold to suppress any yeast activity, or otherwise mitigate a secondary fermentation by pasteurizing. A secondary fermentation will likely effect the flavour, alcohol content and create additional CO2 within the keg.

A Note on Kegging Hard Seltzer

We mentioned previously that you should really be running a higher level of carbonation for your seltzer compared to what you'd run for beer, and if you're planning to serve your seltzer from a keg/tap setup this can produce some challenges - namely with foaming during the pour.

In our kegerator system, we run approx 2.5m of 4mm internal diameter (ID) tubing for dispensing from keg to tap. This works well for us with a serving pressure of approx 15psi for beers. However, when connecting the same length of tubing to a keg that is carbonated and sitting at almost double this pressure (~28psi), the flow rate is significantly increased, and massive foaming occurs in the glass as almost all of the CO2 attempts to escape from solution during the pour.

This is a known issue with draft beer systems, and we need to introduce some more resistance into the serving line to correct this. There are a number of options you can use, but for us we implemented two things which when combined gave us some good, consistent pours that maintained the carbonation we were after in the glass.

Firstly, we used a flow control disconnect on the keg. We've got it set probably 90-95% open, but even just closing off the flow rate a little made a big difference when combined with point number two (below) which improved the excessive foaming greatly.

Flow control disconnect and 90° duotight elbow for easy beer line extension

Just using a flow control disconnect on it's own wasn't sufficient though - it was only when we also added an additional length of beer line to the existing 2.5m that we already had that we got things under control. Thankfully, your beer line can easily be extended by using a duotight joiner. We only had a 90° joiner lying around, but it certainly did the trick for us - you can also get straight joiners which would be preferred, but who knows, perhaps the angled bend helps to reduce the flow rate as well? We had at least another 2-3 metres added to the 2.5m to the tap (though we haven't measured it exactly), but the total line length would now be at least 5m long.

Like many things brewing related, it's a lot of trial and error, but we quite liked the idea of using this joiner, so when we're done with our seltzer we can easily remove the extra line length and elbow connector and go back to the original 2.5m line length like the other taps have.

Final Thoughts

The simplicity and quality of our first seltzer making experience means that this will be a regular feature for us, especially during summer. Super easy to make, and relatively cheap, although if you use bottled distilled water, and the omega yeast/proper seltzer nutrient, it does add a little more to the cost. It would be interesting to experiment with adding a heap of 'regular' yeast nutrient to it instead, and trying other yeast like US-05, but we've got what we know is a winning combination here, so why change? 

We liked the clarity of the final product, but we were little disappointed we didn't get a crystal clear final product and ended up with that slight tinge that made it look like white wine. As we mentioned though, adding syrups/cordial helps to bring the colour back to where it should be, so it's ultimately not that big of a deal, really.

Another interesting experiment would be to add real fruit to the fermenter to 'naturally' sweeten it, which is something we may try in the future, but for now we've got what we feel is a real cloud pleaser.

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Friday 3 November 2023

Stone & Wood - Pacific Ale (Version 2) - BrewZilla Brew Day

Here's a quick recap/run down on our second attempt at brewing the Stone & Wood Pacific Ale. Check out our revised (version 2) recipe that we used for this brew.

We remember our first attempt was pretty good, but definitely had a slight harsh/astringent note to it, we suspect from not adjusting the pH in our sparge water at the time. We've come a fair way since then in terms of process and brewing knowledge so we're hoping this one will be an improvement, and perhaps a little closer to replicating the original Stone & Wood Pacific Ale.

Like all of our brew days we started out with adjusting our water chemistry - reducing the pH to get within the desired 5.2-5.6 range for our mash and sparge water, as well as adding calcium sulfate (gypsum) and magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) to get the mineral composition where we like it.

After preparing and heating our mash water, we added our grain. Since there's a relatively large amount of wheat in this grain bill, it's a very good idea to add some rice hulls to aid with water flow through the grain bed when recirculating.

We let the grain bed rest/settle for 10 minutes after mashing in and then look a pH reading to find we were (just) in the 5.2-5.6 range.

We began recirculating - for the first time using our new Sergeant Sparge Head which negated the need for messing with a long recirculation hose and top plate on the BrewZilla - it worked great.

For this recipe we've opted for a 30 minute boil, but don't have any hop additions until 10 minutes left in the boil. The Pacific Ale is famous for featuring only Australian galaxy hops, so we weighed them out once the boil began in preparation.

At the conclusion of the boil we chilled the wort down to 80°C using our stainless immersion chiller and added our flame out addition. Once the flame out addition time had elapsed we continued to chill down to pitching temperature.

We're finding the immersion chiller a little slow once the wort temperature reaches around 40°C, so we'll be looking into upgrading to a counterflow chiller in the meantime to hopefully improve our chill time.

Once chilled we transferred to our Apollo Titan fermenter, pitched our US-05 yeast and waited for fermentation to begin.

We also took a gravity reading using our digital refractometer and floating hydrometer which both gave a reading of around 1.049 - one gravity point higher than we expected.

Fermentation was underway within 24 hours, and reached a final gravity of 1.009 within 4 days. We then performed a soft crash by dropping the temperature to 12°C and added our 100g dry hop of Galaxy hops.

Check out the Stone & Wood - Pacific Ale (Version 2) - Tasting Results/Review to see how it turned out!

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