For the amateur brewer in a hurry, we present seven important ready-reckoner tables, covering attenuation, alcohol content, hydrometer correction and yeast pitching rates.
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Beer has not always contained hops. Before the use of hops began in the 11th century, people mostly used a combination of herbs and spices known as gruit, to bitter their beer. There was no standard way of bittering your beer and everything from mugwort to heather was used to take the edge off the sweetness of the brew.
When I spend the extra few quid on liquid yeast I like to think I get a little more for my money and hope that I coax the best from the yeast during the propagation stage. There is much debate about the merits of various forms of yeast and what they bring to a beer, but one thing is certain; you're wasting your money if you don't prepare a viable starter from a liquid yeast pack. Dry yeast is ready and eager to ferment once it has been re-hydrated because the producers of it have gone to much trouble to ensure that the yeast is dessicated in prime condition. Making a starter with dried yeast is a waste of time because the primary reason for making a starter is to ensure the yeast you pitch is fighting fit and ready to ferment, and dried yeast is already in this condition. Liquid yeast require more nurturing because they are not in stasis like dried yeast and deplete all their cellular reserves while hanging around in the packet.
A few simple pieces of equipment can aid in yeast propagation. The first of which is a Pyrex conical flask, and the second a magnetic plate stirrer.
A solid rolling boil is essential in the brewing of good beer. It is energy intensive and potentially dangerous but a brewer skimps on boil time or intensity at his/her own peril. The boil must be vigorous and rapid, generally not longer than an hour. The intensity of the boil can be judged by the amount of water evaporated, with a figure of at least 10% being considered the minimum required to achieve what needs to done during the boil. The chemistry involved in wort boiling is immensely complex but can be broken down into a number of relatively straight forward mechanisms that contribute to beer quality.