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Creating inlaid wood furniture is a painstaking process. Cutting shapes into the front of a drawer isn’t the hard part, though; it’s crafting pieces of a contrasting wood that fit precisely into those spaces. Since the beginning of furniture making, people have been looking for shortcuts. Today, machine-cut inlays are available, but in the past the preferred approach was to fill the patterns with a paste that would harden in place.
Project: furniture inlay
Time: 4 hours
One of the less inspired ideas came in the late 1700s, when someone started pouring molten sulfur into his carvings. In the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you will find a spectacularly detailed and beautiful chest made in 1779 in Pennsylvania by a pair of Swiss craftsmen, members of a short-lived tradition of sulfur-inlay furniture making.
Achtung! Theodore Gray is a scientist trained in lab safety procedures. Do not attempt this experiment at home. For more information on Gray’s scientific pursuits, visit his website.
Though sulfur may have had a good case on paper—it melts easily and hardens to a pretty yellow—there’s good reason the tradition was short-lived: Sulfur is nasty at a biblical level, it being another name for the brimstone with which evil was said to be punished. If you heat powdered sulfur gently, it melts into an amber-colored liquid that can easily be poured into complex shapes, if you can stand the suffocating fumes—and if it doesn’t catch fire spontaneously, as it will at a temperature somewhat higher than its melting point, burning with the loveliest purple flame.
The fumes are sulfur dioxide, best known as one of the components of smog. Being near a pot of molten sulfur, it rapidly becomes difficult to breathe. If you want to find out what asthma feels like, doing sulfur inlay is probably a decent approximation (and if you have asthma, you should never be around sulfur dioxide fumes, as they can trigger a severe attack). This is not something you want to do in the house, especially if you want to continue living in that particular house. Oh, and after you work with sulfur for a while, it reacts with the bacteria on your hands and forms hydrogen sulfide, giving you the smell of rotten eggs.
After filling the grooves, the sulfur cools rapidly to a crystalline solid that can be planed, chiseled and sanded smooth, resulting in a golden yellow inlay. It will turn white after a century or so as the sulfur ages. Bubbles and gaps are the primary way to identify an antique pure sulfur inlay, so when I tried this myself (in the name of historical investigation, of course), I didn’t go out of my way to fix them. This is, after all, meant to be a quick-and-dirty method.
Take my word for it, there are few materials less pleasant to work with than sulfur. Resins, paints, chalk paste, plastic—all have been used to do furniture inlay with success. No one knows why sulfur was first used, but it’s clear to me why it isn’t anymore.
Author’s note: Thanks to Mark Anderson and Jennifer Mass of Delaware’s Winterthur Museum for the historical and scientific information about sulfur inlay.
This story has been updated. It was originally featured in the January 2005 issue of Popular Science magazine.
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CES: The Best, Worst Thing to Happen In Tech
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is right around the corner, which means the time has come for all of us to get excited about the latest and greatest technologies companies will be showing off this chúng tôi countless industry analysts and pundits will tell you, this year’s CES will play host to a bunch of developing technologies, including Ultra HD, wearable tech, and others, and there appears to be little chance that some of the old standbys, like 1080p HDTVs and PCs will be able to make the kind of splash that they once did at the show.
But as someone who has been covering this industry for several years and has attended my fair share of CES events, I can tell you beyond a shadow of doubt that while it’s one of the most important shows and arguably one of the most interesting, it’s also the worst thing to happen to this industry.
The Consumer Electronics Show is huge. If you’ve never attended, you owe it to yourself to find a way at least once to see just how sprawling the event can be. You’ll walk countless miles over a few days and find that you couldn’t see half of what was there. What’s worse, some of the most interesting and innovative technologies, started by small entrepreneurs, find themselves in the back corners of rooms you never even see, meaning the larger firms tend to get the most play.
Oh, and when you come home from the show, you can all but guarantee that you’ll come down with some kind of cold – it’s impossible not to when everywhere you go, you’re surrounded by people.
But after the initial shock and awe of the sprawling show wears off, you come to realize, just days after the event, that much of what you’ve seen might never see store shelves. What’s worse, companies are more than happy to show off “future” technologies, only to give them the same moniker year after year after year. Simply put, CES is, in many ways, a lot of talk, but not a lot of walk.
Admittedly, there are many companies that come to CES with products ready to hit store shelves. But there are also countless devices that have either already been made available or seem to be little more than cool concepts that might still be years off. It’s the middle ground that matters. And in that middle ground, it’s hard to find a whole lot of truly compelling products.
Then, of course, there’s the lull – the period between the big show and when products actually hit store shelves. In far too many cases, that’s months, and it means seeing products in January, only to hear little to nothing about them until, say, October. That is, of course, unless they get delayed, which pushes the wait even further.
This is not to say that CES isn’t important – it is. But under all of the hoopla and hype and sexy technology, we find something rather interesting: it’s filled with the what-ifs and could-bes and not very much in the way of products that we want and can get our hands on right now.
Will 2014 be any different? We can hope. But at this point, the only thing we can do is wait and find out.
Not everyone agrees with Don: some say tradeshows like CES are evolving, not dying. You can keep track of all the CES announcements – good and bad! – at the SlashGear CES Hub!
Summer is in full swing, and nobody would blame you if a trip to the beach or your favorite city is tempting you. But even if you are itching for a vacation outside of your living room, there’s a few things to consider—namely where you’re going and how exactly you’re going to get there.Riskiest: Any kind of shared travel
“Buses, trains, and airplanes—kinds of transportation where you’re with lots of people for a long time—are all risky,” says Prashant Kumar, the founding Director of the Global Centre for Clean Air Research at the University of Surrey. The big issue with shared travel comes down to how much space people get, cleaning protocols, how filtered the air is, and who you’re traveling with.
It’s really tough to differentiate the risk between a flight, bus ride, or train trip because they all share a mix of these highly variable factors, Kumar says. Even between two different planes, you might see different levels of cleanliness, social distancing, mask requirements, and so on. It’s kind of like going out to a restaurant, where each place is on its own to decide what protective measures are being taken. Two different planes from the same airline, or trains from the same company, might still be slightly different.
Air flow is the most crucial factor in these vehicles, says Lisa Lee, an epidemiologist and public health ethicist at Virginia Tech University. Whether you’re traveling on a train, bus, or plane, you really want to be out of range of people’s exhalations. Ideally, the vehicle you are in will have a lot of air exchange with the outside, and minimal stale air circulation. For travel modes like airplanes, it isn’t so easy to pop open a window to get a bit of fresh air if the person next to you is breathing too much in your direction. Luckily, airplanes these days actually have quite good technology that can bring outside air in to circulate inside the cabin, Lee says. When it comes to a bus or train, you might have a little more leeway in taking circulation into your own hands.
“The more outside air you can bring in and exchange with inside air the better,” Lee explains.
But the bottom line, says Lee, is that out of these options, the safest mode of transportation is the one where you spend the least amount of time with the fewest number of people. So if you had to choose between a less crowded airplane flight for two hours versus a squished bus for eight, maybe go ahead and get those air miles.Risky: Cars
Road tripping is a tempting alternative to a flight or Greyhound ride, and for the most part it is much safer than any sort of public transportation. If you’re traveling with people from your household or quarantine “pod,” then riding in a car is much safer than other types of transportation in terms of COVID-related risks, says Lee.
“Even with things like having to stop for gas, having to stop for restroom breaks, or picking up snacks, your risk of exposure is similar to everyday life events like getting groceries,” she says.
What’s important to consider when traveling by car, however, is that the more stops you make, the riskier it gets. Every time you exit the car and interact in shared spaces with shared surfaces, you increase your risk, Lee explains. And while you can control who is in your car, you don’t have any control over how people conduct themselves in gas stations or fast-food restaurants.
So, a one shot drive on one tank of gas is much safer than a multi-day road trip, especially considering if you’re staying at hotels or other accommodations overnight, which opens a whole new can of worms in terms of risks for you and whoever else is in the hotel. Just as in planes, buses, or trains, being in hotels adds a handful of variables that you can’t necessarily control. If your road trip will entail four motel stays through multiple COVID hot-spots, maybe save that escapade for a future date where you won’t have to be so stressed about carrying along or catching a virus.Not risky: Staying home
Unfortunately, the safest way to do any sort of exploration is still through the worldwide web on your couch at home. With new cases around the US still growing, traveling regardless of mode of transportation confers risk not only to yourselves but those you come in contact with. Try satiating your travel bug with travel documentaries, books, or even a whirl on good old Google Earth.
2024 is the year of the staycation. Try an indoor or backyard camping trip. In fact, backyards are the perfect arena for all kinds of kid-friendly shenanigans like mini-Olympic yard games or a movie screening on a projector. If you’re short on outdoor space, treat yourself to a DIY spa day. You could even spruce up and redecorate your living situation to make it feel like a whole new environment.
Of course, the pandemic does not mean we need to halt our lives completely, says Kumar, but we all need to make informed decisions and know what it takes to stay safe. And sometimes that means creating your own vacation at home, and saving up for an even more special trip next year.Bonus round: Boats
But on the other hand, boats often have people milling about free range, which can make social distancing difficult. Giant boats where hordes of people are crammed into cabins, like cruise ships, are an infectious disease nightmare and are to be avoided at all costs. But so long as your boat of choice is not super packed, and has ample space for distancing, you may be in luck.
If you’re fortunate enough to have access to a small, private boat, that could be a great way to get to the beach for some water time. Just make sure you’re either with your quaranteam, again, or have enough square footage for safe distancing.
So is the only good option for getting to Europe a slow boat across the Atlantic? Not really. “If I were going on a trip to London, I’d rather not be on a boat for a week. I’d much rather be on a plane where I’m only on there for a few hours,” Lee says. Being stuck with a bunch of people, even with ideal ventilation, is quite literally the stuff of coronavirus nightmares.
But, for a short day trip on a boat with just your pod, the journey would kind of be like taking a car trip, but with more airflow and sunshine. So if you go this route, take the same precautions as you would for a road trip, and certainly don’t forget your sunscreen.
Niantic is the worst part of Pokemon GO
A team of developers called Niantic created Pokemon GO. They saw this April Fool’s Joke just like everyone else in the world, and saw potential. Once they received the GO-ahead, they got to work, splitting their staff between working on their already-active game Ingress and the game that’d be built on the progress they’d already made: Pokemon GO. What went wrong?
The concept behind Pokemon GO is solid. It’s extremely inspiring – as Niantic, more than anyone, should understand. But with the latest update to the game, it seems as though Niantic has abandoned at least one key element in that inspired first vision – Pokemon tracking.
Above you’ll see the April Fool’s Day video. Notice how Pokemon tracking is well and above our ability to accomplish with a mere smartphone – for now. It’s projected up in space, like a hologram from Star Wars. That’s something we might be able to accomplish with augmented reality and the VR version of Pokemon GO – but not if Niantic has given up on tracking altogether.
SEE: Why Pokemon GO is the best game EVER
When I played the Beta version of the game, tracking worked great. If I opened the panel in which nearby Pokemon were shown, each Pokemon had between 1 and 3 footprints, this showing how close or how far they were from my phone’s position. When I tapped a Pokemon in this grid, my avatar in the game would even go so far as to point in the direction I should be walking to attain the Pokemon I tapped.
Once Pokemon GO was released to the general public, it seemed as though the massive amount of traffic that appeared made mincemeat out of the method used to enact steps in the game. All Pokemon had three steps, and no-one was the wiser about their location.
Now Niantic’s support page for steps is about how Pokemon are simply in the same grid, but without any steps at all. The line “Collaborate with other Trainers to find out exactly where certain Pokémon have been found” is telling – it suggests Niantic is pushing for more involvement between players.
This newest update to Pokemon GO also changes the way battles are fought at gyms, encouraging further the idea that a gym with several Pokemon should not be able to be easily beaten by a single opponent. Team battles are where its at – as Niantic has reminded us at several press events since before the launch of the game.
Niantic has also taken their first big step toward cutting out cheaters and hacks to the game in this newest update, cutting out availability of access to 3rd party services Niantic has suggested take away from the core elements of the game. This first big iron software curtain has been dropped – and it’s good.
More or less.
It’s good that Niantic is taking a stand against hacking of their game – or the exploitation of some elements of their game.
However, since the game launched with what was supposed to be a tracking system for Pokemon, and some services popped up in that feature’s absence to replace it, users are not pleased.
Random spawning and the use of friends to comb through large patches of land to find single Pokemon is not how any previous game has worked. Not that this game is like any previous Pokemon game, anyway.
Niantic has remained relatively silent through this change (beyond some sparse release notes in app stores) and through a number of down-times logged over the past several weeks.
While I’d suggest “gamers get what they pay for” for a game that’s supposed to be free, this game isn’t. Users can play it for free, certainly – but even if they don’t attain in-app purchase products, they’re being asked to get out and perform physical tasks to play the game.
If Niantic wants people to continue to play the game and potentially buy the products that are available inside it, they need to AT LEAST be more active on their social media accounts, responding to concerns and letting their game participants know when they’re having real problems – like a server array down for several hours at a time.
As our report earlier today shows, losing any amount of progress in this game hurts more than a video game one plays at home. It feels like losing something far more real. This is a powerful proposition Niantic has made – and they absolutely need to step up their efforts in making sure the user knows that they’re working to improve the game and support the user every single day.
Niantic is the worst part of Pokemon GO right this minute – but they don’t have to be. Server problems and changing features don’t have to be giant issues – they just need someone to say “it’ll all be better soon, thanks for playing!”
See more Pokemon GO bits and pieces – tips, secrets, and updates – in our @TeamPokemonGO Twitter portal.
Fallout Games have been around for a while now. Starting from the classic top-down RPG genre and coming to modern first-person open-world games, it has come a long way since its first release.
For many Fallout fans, ranking these games might be a bit difficult. Sure, they can instantly answer which one is the best and worst among them, but ranking all of them can be quite a challenge, especially if they haven’t played all the games.
As someone who has tried all the Fallout games, we have compiled a full list and ranked them from the best to the worst. If you are someone who is trying to get into the Fallout universe but have no idea where to start, this might be helpful to you.Best Fallout Games Ranked Fallout: New Vegas
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: October 2010
Platform: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
Fallout: New Vegas is set in a different timeline than the rest of the Fallout games, but it doesn’t fail to retain the thrills and immersive gameplay of Fallout. It is not only the best one among the Fallout games; it is one of the best RPGs in the world.
I don’t know what’s more amazing; the fact that the developers managed to develop this game in just 18 months, or they made an almost perfect Fallout game in such a short period of time.
On the surface, Fallout: New Vegas is just another Fallout game where you explore the vast open world of New Vegas, but man, it gets better and better with each act. The plot that started as the revenge story for the main character quickly turns into a full-scale war where different factions within the city are fighting for control.
And you’ll find yourself tangled in all sorts of dangerous situations where you’ll have to choose whether you want to involve yourself. The game offers so much in terms of choices that you can create your own story based on how you want to play the game.Fallout 3
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: October 2008
Platform: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
While many Fallout fanatics think the developers put too much emphasis on action rather than story or narrative, you can’t deny the fact that Fallout 3 was one of the best games in the series. The introduction of 3D graphics truly paved the way for the open-world RPG genre that the developers had hoped for the game.
Fallout 3 lets you explore the vast wastelands of Washington DC in a first-person perspective while also giving you the experience of some brutal action. You may feel bored with its slow start, especially if you like fast-paced games but trust me, it sets the stage for the entire game.
From creating your unique character to setting up attributes for them, it is all done within the introduction phase. Once you get out of the vault, though, you’ll see a big open world, ready to be explored. The wasteland is full of debris, rundown buildings, and lots of characters that will shape the story.
You’ll meet lots of odd characters, both good and bad guys, have conversations with them and find information about the current situation. In addition to the already good combat system, it also features a new element called VATS which makes killing enemies even more entertaining and easier.Fallout 2
Developer: Black Isle Studios
Publisher: Interplay Productions
Release Date: October 1998
Platform: Windows, Mac OS X
Fallout 2 is a classic 2D RPG game that truly defines what Fallout is all about. Being a sequel of the highly praised game, people had lots of expectations when the game came out, and well, it didn’t take long to meet those expectations.
Fallout 2 is an improved version of Fallout, which got rid of all unnecessary things from the game but also kept all the necessary things by making them better. One thing I don’t like about this game, though, is that it tries a little bit too hard to reference pop cultures into it.
Seriously, you can see these references everywhere you go. Other than that, the game is pretty solid. It has an immersive storyline that keeps you from straying too far from the actual mission.
It also gives you the freedom to handle things your way and shape your story the way you like. New weapons, new enemies, and new things to discover; it fulfills all your expectations if you’ve played Fallout.Fallout 4
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Release Date: November 2024
Platform: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
You escape from a vault as the sole survivor after witnessing your wife being killed and your son being kidnapped. And the first thing you see after spending so much of your time locked up in a cryogenic stasis is how much the world has changed after the nuclear devastation.
The latest game in the Fallout series features new elements and graphics. Set around the promises of Boston, you explore vast wastelands, scavenging resources and searching for your son.
Unlike in other Fallout games, a crafting system is available in this one, and you’ll be able to craft quite a number of equipment with the resources you’ve collected. Like all the other games, there are plenty of actions and quests in this one as well.
You explore different places, interact with people and give your opinions, kill mutated animals and creatures, and level up your character. However, the downside of this game is that it focuses too much on a linear storyline where the ultimate goal is to find your kidnapped son.
Despite being an open-world game, you are constantly reminded of it, which takes away all the fun out of it. But, overall, it has an interesting story which makes up for that.Fallout
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: October 1997
Platform: MS-DOS, Windows, Mac OS, Mac OS X
Fallout is one of the classic video games that defined the franchise of the game. Every Fallout game started from this point, and it set up the pace for all of them. Considering it came out in the 90s when people thought RPGs were basically dead, it shined like a diamond and paved the way for a lot of games that came after it.
You basically start out as a vault dweller and set out on a quest to fix the water problems in your vault. It allows you to create your own character as well as pick one from the list of pre-made characters if you’re not feeling like creating one.
From the classic SPECIAL systems to the Karma system that we still see in modern Fallout games, it all started with this game. For a game that was released more than two decades ago, it had a fairly large map where you could interact with characters and complete their quest.
There are more than one ways to complete quests, and each quest may play out differently based on your character. However, the graphics of the game are really outdated at this point, so you might need to bear with it if you want to play this game.Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel
Publisher: 14 Degrees East, Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: March 2001
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Fallout Tactics set a new storyline for the Fallout series by not continuing the story of both Fallout 1 and 2. It is more like an RTS game where you have to manage your squad and make strategies while playing. You start with a single character and recruit capable members along the way.
Although you cannot interact much with characters in this game, you can perform plenty of trades with them. It still features lots of action elements, exploration, and mutated creatures, but it is much more linear than Fallout 1 and 2. But the conversation is very limited or, in some cases, non-existent.
There are some choices you can make but only towards the end of the game, where your decision will determine how the game will end. And again, the gameplay is very linear, where you’re completing missions and moving along with much interaction with the environment.
There aren’t cutscenes that explain the situation either. But other than that, the story is interesting enough to not lose your focus and get bored mid-way into the game.Fallout 76
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: October 2023
Platform: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
Fallout 76 was made for the sole purpose of providing an online Fallout experience to the players. However, the developers forgot to put one feature that made the game interesting; the NPCs. Without them, the game feels literally empty, with no one to be seen for miles.
In later updates, they added NPCs to the game, but it was already too late. You can occasionally meet other players if you’re lucky, but that’s about it. It is an average game from every perspective. The quests, characters, missions, and updates; are all generic, and nothing is appealing in this game.
Sure, you can play missions and quests, build your own base and explore the largest map ever, but it’s all average compared to the rest of the Fallout games. And the environment itself doesn’t give any Fallout vibes.
Fallout games are known for their barren land, devoid of life where everything is destroyed due to nuclear war, but Fallout 76 doesn’t have that vibe.
Sure, you can still see the effects of the devastation, but there are still buildings, trees, and vast forests, which take away all the fun of playing a Fallout game. And on top of that, the price of cosmetics in the game is ridiculously expensive for a game that isn’t even an MMORPG.Fallout Shelter
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios, Behaviour Interactive
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: June 2024
Platform: Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
When comparing it to other Fallout games, I don’t know if I should call it a Fallout game. It is just a simulation game where you manage resources and people in your vault.
It lacks any thrills and joy the Fallout games provide, and most of the time, you’re just watching your vault dwellers doing their job and complaining how awful overseer you are.
You can occasionally send your dwellers to explore the outside world and complete quests, but it is not as exciting as you think. And if your character dies while on the quest, you have to face another problem.
You can expand the rooms of the vault and build rooms with different purposes, but it becomes a headache once you have more rooms. And on top of everything, you have to always make sure that your citizens are happy and they are doing the jobs they enjoy.
You can’t also control them directly and can only give limited instruction, which is the most boring thing about this game. And most of the time, the game is just plain boring with nothing much to do.Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
Release Date: January 2004
Platform: PlayStation 2, Xbox
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel feels extremely plain and simple, to the point that you can’t even call it a Fallout game. Sure, it depicts the story of a post-apocalyptic world where the world is suffering due to a nuclear war, but it pays very little attention to the story of the Fallout games that came before it.
The gameplay feels bland as well, where you’ll be exploring for hours, fighting and killing the same enemies the entire time. Everything about this game is basic; from the storyline to the combat system, it feels like you’re doing the same thing again and again.
Virtually foolproof brewing
Good range of beers
Hopper does make a difference to the tasteCons
Some build quality issues
Limited selection of Hopper beer
Takes up a lot of fridge spaceOur Verdict
The Pinter 2 improves on the original in various ways and – with the addition of the Hopper – makes some tasty beer. Build quality issues have been a thorn in Pinter’s side, but the system can work well and couldn’t make brewing any simpler.
The Pinter 2 arrived roughly one year after the original was released. It’s an all-in-one system that includes everything you need to make 10 pints of fresh beer.
That’s because you make the beer in the Pinter and it stays in there once fermentation is finished. You use the handle on the front to pour a pint, and the whole process is so simple that anyone can do it.
In order to make it almost foolproof, there’s a companion app which includes step-by-step videos that show you exactly what to do, helps you keep track of what stage your beer is at and provides notifications when you need to do something.
It means that if you follow the instructions to the letter, you’ll end up with some tasty beer after a couple of weeks.
I originally wrote this review in January 2023, and have updated it to reflect another nine months or so of use, and to add my thoughts on the new collab with Yeastie Boys: Bigmouth Remixed, and the revised pricing.Features & design
Hopper allows you to add hop oil during fermentation
The Pinter 2 looks a lot like the first-generation model, but it’s had quite a few improvements. For a start, there’s the ‘Hopper’. It’s a valve on the rear to which you can attach a bottle of hop oil when prompted during the fermentation process, adding aroma to the beer which you otherwise wouldn’t get.
The original Pinter was constructed from plastic, but now the outer body is shot-blasted aluminium with a plastic inner vessel. Usefully this has a two-piece construction, split at the fill line. Because contrasting colours are used, it’s easy to see the line without rotating the Pinter to find the mark (as you did with the original).
The metal is one of the main reasons for the increased price, but there’s also a completely new tap design. Again, it looks the same, but the mechanism has been redesigned and now comprises a removable section that reaches almost to the back of the Pinter. Inside it is a coiled tube that the beer passes through under pressure (from the natural carbonation) to deliver your pint.
This also means that, unlike the Pinter 1, the second-gen version doesn’t require you to turn the carbonation dial on the rear. And that’s a big benefit for two reasons. First, you’re not introducing unwanted oxygen into your beer and second, you retain the carbonation so your beer stays ‘fizzy’ and doesn’t go flat before you’ve drunk it all.
Previously, you’d have to drink the 10 pints within a week or 10 days – a sort of workaround to avoid those problems – but now Pinter says the beer stays fresh for up to 30 days.Brewing
There’s a decent choice of beer styles, from lagers to ales and fruity IPAs. There’s also cider, if you fancy a change. And Pinter has regularly added a little to the selection with a stout and – towards the end of 2023 – two beers developed in collaboration with Yeastie Boys.
Each of these beers arrives as a ‘fresh press’ along with yeast, a bottle of purifier and – on selected beers – a Hopper bottle which contains hop oil. The box is designed to fit through most letterboxes, so you don’t need to be home.
Using the instructions in the app, the first step is to use the purifier to sanitise all the bits and pieces: successful brewing relies on cleanliness.
Next, you fill up the Pinter, with cold water and add the fresh press. It’s recommended to use a sanitised jug to fully mix the contents with some water. This avoids a situation where the press ends up in the brewing dock at the bottom and the resulting beer doesn’t taste right.
With some of the thicker presses, such as Space Hopper, you may even need to warm the bottle on a radiator first, and slosh some warm water around the bottle to get the entire contents out.
Then it’s simply a case of pouring in the supplied yeast, attaching the dock and placing the Pinter upright at room temperature for the number of days specified.
Pinter is a bit ambitious with some of the timings, and the higher ABV beers should be left for the longer brewing times – or better still, a full week – to ensure fermentation is complete before conditioning the beer.
If you’re brewing a ‘Hopper’ beer, then just before you remove the dock after fermentation, you unscrew the cap over the valve and screw in the bottle of hop oil. Its foil seal is automatically pierced as you do this. Once the oil is dispensed, the bottle is removed and the cap replaced on the Pinter 2.
The conditioning process simply means removing the dock (which contains most of the spent yeast) and placing the Pinter in the fridge. It’s marginally shorter than the Pinter 1 so may fit in your fridge with the tap facing out. In an American-style fridge, it fits nicely.
But if yours is smaller, you’ll have to place the Pinter 2 sideways, which usually takes up a full shelf in a standard 600mm-wide fridge, space you probably can’t spare.
After a week or so conditioning, the beer’s ready to tap. With the Pinter 2, that is a foamy event, as the beer is under high pressure at that point. You can turn the dial to release some pressure, but then you lose some carbonation for subsequent pints.
As there’s no cooling built in, you’ll need to keep the Pinter 2 in the fridge, or somewhere cold, until the beer’s finished.What does the beer taste like?
Brewing beer is a hobby, something people do for fun. And that’s one of main reasons to buy a Pinter 2. Yes, the beer is cheaper than at your local pub, but in my experience at least, it doesn’t always taste better.
Partly that’s because you need to drink those 10 pints while the beer’s still fresh. The company behind the Pinter talks about ‘fresh’ beer a lot, and it’s certainly true that most beer tastes best once it has finished conditioning, and deteriorates over time – especially very hoppy beers.
Chances are that it won’t take long to drink 10 pints, especially if you have thirsty mates, so it’s not such an issue if they’re drained within a couple of weeks of the first tapping.
After that, you’ll notice it doesn’t quite taste as good, and it won’t be as carbonated.
However, when the beer is at its best, which is usually around three weeks after the brew day, it can be very good. Obviously, taste is a subjective thing, but of the beers I’ve brewed, Tropical Debate – the new NEIPA which uses the Hopper – is one of the better ones.
It doesn’t taste obviously like a commercial NEIPA because it lacks bitterness of the usual American hops used, but it does have a nice aroma, a light colour and a lot of fruity notes. Though it has a nominal ABV of 5.6%, my iSpindel – a Wi-Fi hydrometer – reported closer to 6.5%, and it certainly tasted like it.
These gadgets aren’t totally accurate, but if you want to be able to monitor the specific gravity, and temperature of your beer while it ferments, it’s worth the £35 or so investment. (You’ll find pre-built iSpindels for sale on ebay, and they work despite the metal outer shell of the Pinter 2.)
Other beers weren’t as impressive. Pinter sent me a bottle of Stonebridge, another Pinter 2 exclusive, ahead of the launch and it didn’t taste like a Belgian blonde: more of an English ale. That could have been down to short brewing times, and I’ve heard reports from others that it’s rather good.
As of November 2023, Stonebridge has disappeared from the shop entirely, as has the wheat beer, the sour and Vienna lager.
Almost all of the beers have that ‘homebrew’ taste, and it’s something I’ve been unable to avoid, even when using campden tablets to remove the chlorine and chloramine from tap water.
One of tastiest brews was a limited-run red ale made for the 2023 World Cup called Welsh Red. Fortunately, it has made a welcome return to the shop in late 2023.
I also brewed the latest Bigmouth Remixed, a session IPA. It’s called Remixed and not simply Bigmouth because – presumably – using the exact malts and hops in the real Bigmouth would make the fresh press prohibitively expensive.
As ever, I opted for the extended fermentation times and left it to condition in the fridge for a full two weeks. The result is perhaps the best I’ve had from the Pinter 2, with a well-carbonated really fruity-tasting beer that’s enhanced by the hop oil that comes with this particular press, and no ‘homebrew’ taste at all.
Jim Martin / Foundry
If you are tempted by a Pinter 2, it’s worth reading these tips and tricks and doing all of them as you’ll end up with a better-tasting beer. The only one you can realistically ignore is cold crashing, so long as you don’t care about your beer being hazy. In fact, a lot of craft beer is hazy these days anyway, and is sold as a benefit.Build quality
It would be remiss of me to not mention some build quality issues I noticed, as well as those reported by other owners online. My test unit was missing one its rubber feet when it arrived and it was nowhere to be found in the box.
One of the rubber strips on the metal front plate immediately fell off when I first removed it, too. As there are no feet or standoffs on the back, the finish became scratched as soon as I put it in the sink to fill the Pinter 2 for sanitising.
Others have suffered more serious issues, such as where the glue holding the rear metal section (containing the handle) to the main body has failed, causing the beer-filled section to fall off and hit the floor (or smash a hole in their bathtub). Pinter dealt with this by providing replacements for all units shipped up until 19 April 2023.
There’s also now a full list of what setting to use for the carbonation dial when fermenting for each beer.
And to its credit, the Greater Good – the company behind the Pinter 2 – has excellent customer service (there’s live chat in the app) and has sorted out all customers who have experienced these and other problems.
Also, the new metal dock is much easier to attach to the Pinter 2 and, despite being a little more wobbly than the original (which the company says is perfectly normal) has worked fine for all the brews I’ve made so far.
In fact, I’ve had no problems whatsoever, and I’ve now brewed over half a dozen times with it.Pricing & availability
As a startup, Pinter is only available in the UK currently. It originally cost £149 in any colour, apart from the Pure Finish chrome model which was £209. That’s no longer sold.
Now, it’s £129, but has been on sale at various points during the year with a summer promotion that brought it down to just £79. At the time of updating this review in November 2023, it was on sale for £99.
You can get one free fresh press with the Pinter 2, but this also signs you up to the Fresh Beer Club which, after the first month is £16.99 per month. You get one fresh press for that, and free delivery (which is usually £2.50) and you can increase your subscription to up to four fresh presses per month.
The alternative is to buy fresh presses from Pinter’s online shop as and when you want them, with prices ranging from £13 to £20.
That means your pints cost £1.30 to £2 each, not including the cost of the Pinter itself.
You can also buy what’s called a ‘Co-Pinter’ which is a Pinter without the dock. These cost £79. With a Co-Pinter, you can brew another Fresh Press while your other Pinter is full of a previously made beer.Verdict
At the full price of £129, the Pinter 2 isn’t as giftable as the Pinter 1 was at £85, but any recipient is sure to be very happy with it.
The Fresh Presses can appear a little too expensive considering they only make 10 pints: similar homebrew kits (such as Woodefordes and Muntons) make 40 pints for considerably less per pint.
However, as mentioned already, the Pinter is more about the hobby than the cost. You’re spoiled for choice if you walk into just about any UK supermarket these days and look in the craft beer section of the beer aisle.
Where the Pinter excels is the system as a whole: it’s easier and more convenient than traditional homebrew kits – mainly because they force you to package your beer after fermentation is complete, but the Pinter 2 doesn’t.
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