Category Archives: Reviews

First Looks: ITC-1000 Temperature Controller + PDF Manuals

ITC-1000 Temperature Controller

Here’s a First Look at the ITC-1000.  First, some background… The STC-1000 is a very popular homebrewing temperature controller.  One caveat of the STC-1000 (for some) is that the vast majority (maybe all?) display in Celsius only.  Yes you can do some firmware re-flashing and such things, but as far as off the shelf units, the vast majority read in Celsius.  Some may point to this offering.  It does indeed read in deg F, however, it appears to be the single stage version.

Enter the Inkbird ITC-1000… It’s 110 V, Dual Stage (can control both heating and cooling output), has an alarm to indicate sensor failure or high temperature and… it displays in Fahrenheit… finally!  It’s also said to be more user friendly than the STC-1000.  In addition to the ITC-1000, an ITC-2000 model is available.  That adds the ability to set both high and low temperature alarms.

The STC-1000 was already a great controller, arguably the best value in temperature controllers.  These improvements seem to make a great thing even better.

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildThe Inkbird ITC-1000 box

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildBox opened.  You get the dual stage controller, temperature probe and manual.

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildFront of the ITC-1000

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildSide view

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildThe top of the controller displays a wiring diagram.

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildBack of the controller.  This removable plate partially shields the wire connections.

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildTemperature probe.

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildFor size comparison next to the Lifeline 7508 Stainless GrowlerReview.

ITC-1000 Temp ControllerFor size comparison next to… a banana.  Yes, I ate this banana.  It was pretty tasty.

Inkbird All-Purpose Digital Temperature Controller Fahrenheit &Centigrade Thermostat w Sensor 2 Relays

Also ConsiderInkbird Relay &Temp Alarm Output Digital Temperature Controller Degree F &C Thermostat w Sensor

PDF Manuals:
Note – These are the current versions, as of this posting, however, software versions and manuals change over time.

Pinned: Kegerator · Growler Gold Box Deal · Raspberry Pi · Vanilla · Drip Tray:$24

Recent Amazon Finds:

Hands On: ClosetMaid Shelf Caps (as Keg Lid Feet)

ClosetMaid 75355 24 Large and 60 Small End Caps, White, 84-Pack

I’ve heard for quite a while now, that these shelf caps (model 75355) from ClosetMaid make dandy keg feet replacement.  You get a total of 84 feet – 60 small and 24 large.  The small are the ones said to work as keg lid feet.  If you crunch the numbers on per foot cost, it typically ends up being a pretty big bargain.

I decided to put these to the test.  Do they work well as keg lid feet?  We’ll find out…  I’m sure you’re on the edge of you’re seat now! :)

keg lid feetThe package.  Hey… these are meant to be used as wire rack caps.  You get yourself a shelf, something like this, cut it to size and then use this caps to make it so you don’t cut yourself up when you grab a pair of socks or something.  They probably work great for their intended purpose.

IMG_7571As mentioned previously, you get two sizes of caps.  The small caps are the ones used for keg lid feet.

keg lid feetHere they are installed.  Hmmm.

keg lid feetIf you look closely you’ll see the “foot” pulling away as this closes.

Do these work?  Not really.  The thickness of the cap should help to exert pressure on the lid and help the oring seal.  These aren’t as thick as purpose made feet.  For the cost of the real thing (and considering what’s at stake – CO2… beer!), I would personally rather use purposed designed equipment for this purpose.

In fairness to those who have said these work well… 1. The stock picture looks different from what I received – maybe these have changed and 2. Maybe they do fit well on some feet.  Just not the ones I tried.

ClosetMaid 75355 24 Large and 60 Small End Caps, White, 84-Pack

Keg Lid Feet - $1.39

Related: Bulk Keg Orings and Keg Repair Part Numbers

843339 - Keg Closure Feet (Pair)

Pinned: Kegerator · Growler Gold Box Deal · Raspberry Pi · Vanilla · Drip Tray:$24

Recent Amazon Finds:

Introducing ThermoWorks’ TimeStick Trio + Hands on Review

TIMESTICK TRIO

The ThermoWorks TimeStick has been around for quite some time.  I’ve owned two and used them extensively.  If you’re not familiar with ThermoWorks, they are the makers of the nearly universally lauded Thermapen – Review and along those lines produce quality equipment.

ThermoWorks has just released the TimeStick Trio.  That unit features three independent timers and is available to order as of this posting.

ThermoWorks kindly provided me with a pre-release unit and to prove that they are fans of homebrewing they have also lifted the media embargo just for Homebrew Finds.  That means you’re hearing it here first.  Their official announcement, along with other website’s coverage will come later.

Check it out – Here

Also Consider – Thermapen Open Box Sale

On to the review…

ThermoWorks TimeStick Trio ReviewIn the box.  It reads – 3 Timers in One, Easy to Set, Start & Stop, Backlit Display, Neck Lanyard

TIMESTICK TRIO thermoworks reviewBack of the box

TIMESTICK TRIO thermoworks reviewTop of the back of the box.  It reads…

“TimeStick Trio is the easiest-to-use triple timer in the world. Each of the three timers has its own display with its own Set and Start/Stop buttons. No confusion on how to set a timer, how much time is left, which one is sounding or how to stop any of the three.

Directly set your times on the rubberized and sealed numeric keypad. All the operations can be done in one hand. No Up/Down buttons that over-run your settings. When you set a Count-Down time, the Start button starts the timer. When the alarm sounds, a Count-Up starts so you know how long since the alarm sounded. Pause and continue any timer at any time. Each alarm has a distinct beep pattern so you can tell which alarm is sounding.

To use as a Count-Up Timer, simply start at 00:00:00 and hit Start. It’s like having three separate stopwatches in one.

Use Trio in the dark with the bright backlight. Hang Trio from your neck, slip it in a pocket or mount it to a magnetic surface. Rugged commercial construction and splash proof seals protect Trio from messy kitchens, sports or pool side use. The keypad can be locked to prevent accidentally disrupting a timer operation. Durability and super-simplicity make TimeStick Trio a solid value.”

TimeStick Trio ReviewBottom of the back of the box

TimeStick Trio ReviewUnboxed.  To the right you can see the included CR2032 Lithium Battery.

TimeStick Trio ReviewBack of the TimeStick Trio.  A built in magnet can be seen on the top third along with the battery door to the bottom.  The battery door features an oring for water resistance.  The TimeStick Trio is splash proof but directions say not to submerge the unit.

TimeStick Trio ReviewFront of the TimeStick Trio

TimeStick Trio ReviewEach of the three timers have corresponding set buttons on the side

TimeStick Trio ReviewIn addition to separate set buttons for each timer, the other side features independent Start/Stop buttons.  ThermoWorks set out to make an easy to use three timer device.  That’s really one of the areas where this shines.  The corresponding buttons make it easy to quickly set, start and stop the three timers individually.

TimeStick Trio ReviewBacklit display

TimeStick Trio ReviewFor size comparison, next to the original TimeStick

TimeStick Trio ReviewMultiple timers set

TimeStick Trio ReviewMultiple timers going.  Note that each timer plays a distinct sound pattern so you can tell what’s what.

TimeStick Trio ReviewTimers can be either up or down.  To set a down timer just hit the set button, key in the time on the number pad and hit set.  To set an up timer just set the time to zero and hit the start button.  You can easily tell if a timer is up or down on the display.  Notice the middle timer in this picture reads up with the top and bottom timers read down.

75per_img_7837Resetting the timers is also easy.  Hitting the set button once resets the corresponding timer to the last set time.  Hitting zero, clears the timer.

TimeStick Trio ReviewHere are the included instructions.

TimeStick Trio ReviewThe included magnet makes it handy.  Here is the Trio stuck to my fermentation deep freeze.

I haven’t had the TimeStick Trio long, but first impressions are that this thing is classic ThermoWorks – well designed and thought out and well built.  The multiple timers make it a huge win for homebrewers.  Thank you to ThermoWorks for providing an evaluation unit and for choosing to make this initial announcement to… homebrewers.  Kudos to ThermoWorks.

Check it out – Here

Pinned: Kegerator · Growler Gold Box Deal · Raspberry Pi · Vanilla · Drip Tray:$24

More from ThermoWorks:

Hands On: Leland Mini CO2 (and Nitrogen) Regulator

Leland Mini CO2 Regulator Review

Leland’s Mini CO2 Regulator uses 74 gram CO2 cartridges.  These cartridges are about 4.6 times larger than cartridges that are typically used in handheld injectors.  The regulator is available in both Ball Lock and Pin Lock Flavors.  Additionally Nitrogen Cartridges are an available option.

Leland Mini CO2 Regulator ReviewA look at the regulator, cartridge and ball lock QD combo.  Additional options include: A Pin Lock Version and Nitrogen Cartridges.  This regulator has a range of 7 to 21 PSI.

Leland Mini CO2 Regulator ReviewClose up of the regulator face.  It reads 0 to 30 PSI.

Leland Mini CO2 Regulator ReviewA look at the ball lock QD and connector.

Leland Mini CO2 Regulator ReviewUsing my 11 lb capacity digital scale to weigh the regulator and disconnect.  This is a beefy little unit.  It is solid and well put together.  The whole combo comes in at just over a pound and a half.

Installed on a ball lock keg.

When installed, this sticks out approximately 4″.

When installed this sticks up approximately 3.75″.

A close up of the dial.

A close up of the face, installed and at pressure.

Leland Mini CO2 Regulator ReviewFor size comparison.  Leland regulator next to a handheld injector

Leland Mini CO2 Regulator ReviewFor size comparison.  74g cartridge next to a 16g cartridge.  A 74g cartridge contains the equivalent of 4.625 16g cartridges.

Stock Photo of the Pin Lock Version of this Regulator

This model differs from other portable handheld CO2 injectors in a couple key ways.  First, it has a gauge and you can set the pressure.  Your beer stays at the intended pressure automatically.  If you’ve used a handheld injector for any length of time, you’ll know what an advantage having a true regulator is.  Second, it takes relatively large 74g CO2 cartridges.  These cartridges give you the capacity to dispense up to four full 5 gallon kegs.  The 74g cartridges are the equivalent of 4.625 16g cartridges.  That’s convenient.
Some applications for this regulator…

Small Space Regulator
If you’re in a small space situation, this would make a good everyday regulator.  The regulator itself takes up very little room and there is no bulky CO2 tank.  If you’re in an apartment or other small space, this gets you serving draft beer without using a lot of room.

Portable Serving
This makes for a great on-the-go regulator.

Nitrogen Serving
Want to serve the occasional beer on Nitrogen but don’t want to buy an additional regulator and tank?  More Beer offers Nitrogen Cartridges for this regulator.

Backup – I’m out of CO2 and I want to pour a beer!
I’ve used this as a backup when my main CO2 tank has run out.  Swap out the CO2 line for this regulator and you’ve got a temporary solution to keep you up and going until you can get more CO2.

Serve Beers at Alternate Carbonation Levels
This regulator goes up to 30 PSI.  That’s plenty to serve high carbonation beers like Hefeweizens and Belgians.  If you don’t have a dual or triple pressure setup, you could use this regulator to serve beers at higher pressures.  I would not suggest force carbonation with this unit.  The 74g cartridges would be pricey. You could carbonate using your existing regulator or just as easily naturally carbonate with priming sugar.  After the beer is completely carbonated, use this to serve at the higher pressure.

Saving Partial Cartridges
This particular unit comes with a gas ball lock disconnect and a 74g CO2 Cartridge.  A good thing about this setup is… you don’t have to discard partial cartridges.  If you decide to serve a 3 gallon keg for a get together, or use this to serve beer from your kegerator in a crunch, you’re able to save the rest of that cartridge for a future use.

The Leland Mini Regulator is well built and has worked great for me since Spring of 2012.  It’s small and has a number of handy applications.

Mini CO2 Regulator Kit KEG960 - $139.99 Shipped

Mini CO2 Regulator Kit (Pin Lock) KEG961 - $139.99 Shipped

CO2 Catridge KEG962 – $11.99 + Free Shipping with a $59 order

Nitrogen Cartridge (18g) KEG964 – $11.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order

Also Consider: All Sale and Clearance Items

Pinned: Kegerator · Growler Gold Box Deal · Raspberry Pi · Vanilla · Drip Tray:$24

Recent More Beer Finds:

More Beer Picks:

review:lelandminiregulator

Step by Step: Rehydrating Dried Yeast Using Rubbermaid TakeAlong Containers

I have used Bel-Art Lab Quality Autoclave Safe Bottles to rehydrate yeast for years.  I bought a dozen of these back in February of 2011 and still have 9 or 10 unused containers.  These are great bottles and have worked really well for me.

Although the per container cost of these is generally reasonable, buying a dozen of these lab containers can be a bit pricey.  I stumbled across the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs line of containers while looking for a less costly alternative.  They are food safe, leak proof and microwave safe.

First a look at the container…

Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Twist and Seal Food Storage Containers, 2-Cup, Clear, Set of 3Stock Image

In the package.

Side of Box: Twist&Seal – Twist-tight, leak-proof seal.  Handles stay cool when food is hot.

On the lid: Remove lid before microwaving

Recycling code is PP 6, 2 cup/473 mL capacity, Top Rack Dishwasher Safe, Microwave Safe (symbol), Freezer Safe (symbol), Made in USA

Rehydrating Yeast Using this Container…

Disclaimer:  This process involves hot liquids and steam.  Use caution as this is a dangerous process and you could get hurt.  Always read and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

I used Fermentis Safale S-04 dried yeast for this process.  Here are rehydration instructions for this yeast.  Fermentis Safale US-05 directions are identical.  Check with your yeast manufacturer for specific rehydration instructions.

The instructions say to use 10 times the weight of yeast being rehydrated.  11.5 gram packet equates to 115 grams.  I used the my – Fast Weight MS-500 Digital Scale to do the heavy lifting here.

Since I use US-05 quite a bit, this is a pretty common weight for me, so I marked the side of the container with an Industrial Sharpie so I don’t have to weigh this out every time.

Next I placed the container in my microwave, with.  Remember… Remove the lid before microwaving.  I chose to set the lid loosely on top to allow the steam to sanitize the inside of the lid.

Next I carefully attached the lid.  Again: If you decide to do this, be careful and do it at your own risk.

As the container cools, the sides will collapse a bit (as pictured).  After this was all said and done, the sides bounced back pretty well but not perfectly.  I cooled the container and water under running tap water until it reached my desired temperature.  In this case 85 deg F.  The instructions say 80 deg F + or – 6 degrees.  I took the temperature with a touch free IR thermometer.  You could also use a sanitized digital thermometer.

The next step is to sprinkle yeast in the rehydration water.  I re-attached the lid and, per the directions, let it stand for 15 minutes or so.

Picture of the sprinkled yeast from the front

The directions say to gently stir for 30 minutes.  One of the beautiful things about using a container like this, with a lid, is that you can swirl instead of stir.  That keeps airborne bacteria and wild yeast to a minimum and you’re also not digging around in your yeast, with who knows what, for 30 minutes.  I swirled this occasionally and came out with this result.

End product.  Hey this looks like yeast!

These are food safe and microwave safe.  The leak proof lid allows you to minimize contact with the outside air.  This worked well for me.

With a pack of three you can use one for yeast and the other two for general storage around the brewery.

Rubbermaid TakeAlongs 2-Cup Twist and Seal Containers, Pack of 3

Bel-Art 106320007 Scienceware Polypropylene Precisionware Wide-Mouth Autoclavable Bottle with 53mm Closure, 500ml Capacity, Pack of 12

Pinned: Kegerator · Growler Gold Box Deal · Raspberry Pi · Vanilla · Drip Tray:$24

Recent Amazon Finds:

toppost:rehydratingyeast

Update: Hands On – CDN DTQ450X Quick Read Thermometer – Includes Accuracy and Response Time Tests

The DTQ450X in boiling water

The DTQ450X from Component Design (CDN) is a quick read digital thermometer thermometer.  It is NSF listed, waterproof and comes with a 5 year warranty.

Features:

  • NSF approved for commercial applications
  • -40 to 450 deg F
  • 5 inch stainless stem
  • Quick read: 5 to 6 second read time.
  • Digital
  • Food Safe
  • Waterproof
  • Easy re-calibration
  • 5 year warranty

In the package

Bottom view

Battery Door

Completely submerged.  Note: The manual explicitly says not to do this.  Guess what?  I did it!  I completely submerged this thermometer for version 1 of this review sometime around November of 2012.  The thermometer has gotten plenty wet since then and is still performing like a champ.  I’m not suggesting that you completely submerge yours.  You should follow the manual’s instructions.  I am saying, mine has held up to this type of treatment.

Accuracy:

I’ve experienced different boiling temperature on different days using the same equipment and testing methods.  Boiling temperature is a moving target.  It is based on elevation and atmospheric conditions.  The day of this test, boiling point was a consistent 211.8 deg F as read by my highly accurate Thermapen.

The CDN DTQ450X reads 211.6 deg F.  It’s reading to .2 deg F low.  Well within it’s stated accuracy of +- 2 deg F.  Practically speaking, for our needs, this is right on.

Ice water is a more reliable reference point.  Here is the CDN DTQ450X head to head with the Thermapen.  As you can see, the Thermapen reads right at 32 deg F.  The CDN DTQ450X reads 32.9 deg F.  Again, well within it’s stated 2 deg F range.  This is a good result.  Not great, but good.  That fact that it is more accurate at the higher range bodes well for homebrewers.  We’re much closer to that end of the spectrum for most of the things we’re doing.

Response Times:

This video shows a response time test using the CDN DTQ450X.  I tried to do this with water that was around mash temperature.  I’m counting the start of the test as right when the metal basket hits the water.  The probe of the thermometer is submerged at 2.28 seconds into the video.  It levels out at 138.3 deg F at 5.7 seconds.  That’s a response time of… 3.42 seconds.  For .1 deg F resolution, that’s a great response time.  In fact, it’s 1.98 seconds faster than a similar test I completed on my review of ThermoWorks Thermapen.

The DTQ450X measuring grain temperature

Bottom Line:

I’ve used the CDN DTQ450X since October of 2012.  This same unit continues to look and function well.  This thermometer is one of our Top Finds and it’s also a key component of my Brew Day Box.  It displays very good accuracy and it has a very, very good response time.  If you’re looking for a thermometer for homebrewing and general use this is an excellent choice that I can recommend based on experience.

CDN DTQ450X ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer

Update – Hands On: OXO Cast Stainless Bottle Opener

I have owned the SteeL Pop Top Stainless Steel Bottle Opener by OXO since April of 2013.  Here are a few pictures and some thoughts about this bottle opener.

In package

Back of the package

 Just laying there

Stands up for awe-invoking presentation

Cool… this thing can open bottles!  After some additional time using this opener I can say that it is the best opener I’ve used for leaving caps intact.  If you open the beer with one continuous motion, most caps end up looking perfect.  I’m wondering if it does this because of the stoutness and rigidity of the opener.  In any case, I can recommend this for cap collectors.

This bottle opener has a heavy, quality feel to it.  In fact, the Top Find Fast Weigh MS-500 has it weighing nearly 6.5 ounces.

This is made of cast stainless steel.  It has a quality heft to it and it looks great.  Apparently Craftsman Bottle Openers that look like wrenches are not suitable for the kitchen.  If you bought one of those, your significant other MAY or MAY NOT hide it from you on a regular basis by putting it in the back of a drawer.  :)  This one on the other hand has a real chance of sticking around.

Features:

  • Bottle opener for pop-top bottles
  • Made of cast stainless steel for strength and durability
  • Long handle for leverage when opening bottles
  • Stands up for presentation on table or bar
  • Soft, comfortable grip; dishwasher-safe

Update 1/19/2015…

Purchase DateI have now used this great bottler opener for going on two years.

OXO Stainless Steel Bottle Opener ReviewIf you look very closely you can see some very fine scratches.  You have to look closely.

OXO SteeL Pop-Top Bottle OpenerThe OXO SteeL Pop Top Opener continues to work and look light new.  Very obviously cast stainless is a great material for a bottle opener.

This is a great bottle opener that I can heartily recommend.  It works great, is built to last and looks beautiful.  Beyond using it for yourself, I think it makes a nice (and generally economical) gift.

OXO SteeL Pop-Top Bottle Opener

Pinned: Kegerator · Growler Gold Box Deal · Raspberry Pi · Vanilla · Drip Tray:$24

Recent Amazon Finds:

review:oxostainlessbottleopener