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Learn the brewing basics
Whether you’re new to the pleasures of the home brew, or are an old hand, we’re willing to bet you’ll find plenty of interesting nuggets at Jim’s Beer Kit ( www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk). The site’s author, Jim Dunleavy, has posted detailed guides on how to set up beer-brewing equipment and goes into detail on the brewing process. The site also offers video tutorials. Watch this one at www.snipca. com/23800 to find out what you need to do to prepare for an all-grain brew. The rest of Jim’s videos can be found on his Youtube channel: www.snipca. com/23802.
Chat with fellow enthusiasts
The forum on Jim’s site is also very useful. It has thousands of posts to peruse and a community that’s happy to offer advice to new members, and stories of what went right (and wrong) in their latest brews. The forum’s categories even include discussions on the processes of making wine, cider and mead. To create an account (so you can post questions on the forum), go to www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk/ forum and click Register at the top right.
Calculate your beer’s percentage
Regular contributors to Jim’s forum include Graham Wheeler, author of ‘Brew your own British Real Ale’, the unofficial bible on home brewing. He also has his own website: www.practicalbrewing.co.uk. The site is only partially completed, so the only finished page is the Fining page, but the website does have one useful tool. Click Beerengine at the bottom of the left-hand panel (or go to www.snipca.com/23773) then click the ‘Beer Engine v1.09’ download link at the bottom of the page. It’s a recipe program designed to help brewers monitor their beer as it is fermenting.
To start you off, install and open the program, click File, Load Example Recipe, then choose one of the options. You’ll see the exact amounts of malts and hops you need and the final percentage in Beerengine’s main screen (see screenshot below). Once you’re more confident in your brewing techniques you can add your own recipes to Beer Engine.
Monitor your brew’s temperature
Our favourite single-board PC, the Raspberry Pi, can be used for all kinds of tasks – from running Kodi (see our Cover Feature, page 50) to playing vintage video games. But you can also use it to monitor the temperature of your beer as it brews.
The Brewpi Spark ( www.brewpi.com) is a modified Pi with its own screen (see image above). It uses software and heat sensors to provide precise temperature readings of your fermenting beer. The basic equipment – a Brewpi, two sensors and two solid-state relays for heating – costs at least £100 (depending on which version you opt for). The Brewpi, therefore, is aimed at serious home brewers.
Discover new recipes
The internet is awash with great beer recipes. Return to Jim’s Beer Kit for hundreds of recipes ( www.snipca. com/23806), while Brewuk ( www. snipca.com/23807) lets you search 240 recipes and sort them by type and style.
Get involved with CAMRA
If you’re looking for inspiration regarding your next brew, why not attend a real ale festival? CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale, www.camra.org) holds regular beer festivals up and down the country.
If you want to take beer brewing to the next level, consider buying a Brewpi Spark