Category Archives: Reviews

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.


  • 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.


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.


  • 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

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First Looks: Variable Speed AC Fan for DIY Stir Plate or Kegerator Circulation

img_img_7320Fan with included AC Wiring and Variable Speed Control.

I picked this cooling fan up primarily to put together a Stir Plate design that works with it.  I chose this model because… 1. It’s a good size (4.7″ square), 2. Is already wired for AC and, 3. Includes a variable speed function.

AC Infinity AI-120SCX Speed Control Fan Kit for Cabinet Cooling, Single 120mm

Here’s a first look…

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateFront of the Fan

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateBack of the fan.  This side actually rotates.  If you were looking to put together a stir plate, this is the side you’d put the magnet on.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateHere’s where the AC wire plugs in.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateThis shows the AC wire plugged in.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateThe specs say this is 4.7″ square.  From side to side, I get 4 11/16″.  As you’ll see it’s large enough to hold a 5 Liter Erlenmeyer.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateI’d call this just a hair under 1″ thick

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateFor size reference, with a 2L Erlenmeyer in the background.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateWith a 2L Erlenmeyer on Top.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateThis thing is all but begging to become a stir plate.  I put four of these rubber bumpers in the four corners (to hold the erlenmeyer in place and give it a little bit of clearance) and then put four of these magnets in the center.  Those just stuck on there with magnetic force and they ended up deciding to stack themselves two high.  It’s kind of hard to tell with this photo, but this is a 5L Erlenmeyer Flask with 2L of water with a vortex using that setup.  I’m not suggesting this as a final design.  I’m only that this fan is a great candidate for conversion.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateThis photo shows the magnet/rubber bumper setup

I use a similar fan for recirculating air in my kegerator.  See: Kegerator Beer Line Temperatures & Reducing Foam with a Recirculating Fan

AC Infinity AI-120SCX Speed Control Fan Kit for Cabinet Cooling, Single 120mm

SEOH 2L Narrow Mouth Erlenmeyer Flask with Heavy Duty Rim 1/pk

Erlenmeyer Flask (5000 ml) Y450

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First Looks: Brand New, 5 Gallon Keg from AIH – On Sale for $75

Adventures in Homebrewing Keg

Adventures in Homebrewing recently-ish introduced a brand new 5 gallon ball lock keg.  Check it out – Here.  They recently put those on sale for… $75.  That’s a stellar deal for a brand new ball lock, so I… picked one up.  These are stainless steel and in the process of being NSF Certified.  Although, this first run did not get the stamp – guessing that may be why they’re clearing these out at $75.

Ball Lock, Stainless Steel, Double Rubber Handles.  Specs say these are 25″ tall and 8.5″ in diameter.

Here’s a first look…

Adventures in Homebrewing Keg ReviewA look at the top of the keg

Adventures in Homebrewing Keg ReviewStamp on the side of the side of the keg reads… Max WP 130 PSI [900 kpa], Cap 5 US GAL [19].  Guessing WP = working pressure,

Adventures in Homebrewing Keg ReviewBottom of the keg

Adventures in Homebrewing Keg ReviewThere was a little bit of what I would call rubber residue.  Not a lot, but some.  Guessing this will wear or scrub off.  Maybe this is common for brand new kegs, I’ve never owned one before this.

Adventures in Homebrewing Ball Lock KegfInside of the keg.  Looks great.

Adventures in Homebrewing Ball Lock Keg PartsParts and pieces.  Left side is liquid, right side is gas.  The lid oring is white.  If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a white silicone.  It doesn’t feel like Buna-N.

Adventures in Homebrewing Ball Lock KegLiquid drip tube

Adventures in Homebrewing Ball Lock KegfClose up on the gas side

Adventures in Homebrewing Ball Lock KegfThe keg uses universal style poppets.

Adventures in Homebrewing Ball Lock KegClose up of the lid.

I’ve just had this keg part of today.  First Impressions are great.  I’ll say at this point, that this is the nicest 5 gallon keg I’ve owned.  At it’s current sale price of $75, I’d call it a stellar value.  Shipping is additional.  Play around with different quantities as minimum shipping charges make those costs a bit odd.  It usually doesn’t cost much more to ship a second, third or forth keg.

From  Facebook Friend Michael… “Have one from their Black Friday sale and am very happy with it. It’s a Steal!”

Check it out - Here

Reader Photos…

B6sz-YJIgAABwFnThanks to Twitter Follower @dseibel88 for this picture!

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Hands On: American Weigh 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale

Here’s a Hands On Look at American Weigh’s Model AWS-100 Digital Gram Scale.  The scale has 1/100th gram resolution making it great for accurately weighing hops, small amounts of specialty grains and water salts.  It has a 100 gram (3.52 ounce) capacity.

cln_img_6812The front of the box.  Reads: Hundredth of a gram accuracy (0.01 g), 100g Maximum Capacity, Flip-Open Protective Cover, Includes two AAA, 10 Year Warranty.

AWS-100 Side of the box.  Reads: Capacity 100 g, Readability .01g, Power Two AAA, Platform Size 2.5 x 3″, Auto Off 60 Seconds No Activity.

AWS-100Front of the scale when closed.  The protective cover is a nice feature.  You don’t want to store a scale with any weight or pressure on the platform.  The built in cover keeps that from happening.

AWS-100Back of the scale

AWS-100Front of the scale when open

AWS-100 Quick User GuideClose up of the inside of the protective lid built into the AWS-100.  This includes a handy Quick User Guide.  Click the picture above to zoom.

100g Calibration WeightI purchased this 100 gram Calibration weight at the same time I got the AWS-100.  It’s worth picking up one of these.  You’ll see why next.

AWS-100 100 gramsThe 100 gram weight reads 100.12 grams.  The manual states that “calibration and adjustment are performed at the factory.  However, the weighing range can shift slightly during shipping”.  If the scale is weighing within an acceptable tolerance the scale should be left alone.  If it is outside of tolerance, it should be calibrated.  The manual says that the tolerance for this scale is .02 grams.  .12 is 6 times acceptable tolerance.  Calibration is required.

AWS-100 CalibrationTo calibrate you hold the mode button until CAL appears on the screen.  Press Mode again and it prompts you to put a 100 gram calibration weight on the platform

AWS-100 calibrationPut the weight on and the… wait :) and the scale will pop up pass.  I’m guessing it calibrates itself using the weight and then re-tests the weight to ensure that it’s within tolerance.  If it is… whammo… pass.

AWS-100 100 gramReads 100.01 with a 100 gram calibration weight

AWS-100 100 gramThis is a different 100 gram weight.  It reads right at 100.

A note on accuracy: I don’t have lab quality weights.  Slight variances in this accuracy tests could be a reflection of either the scale or the weight or both.  My guess is both are generally to blame.  If 1/100th (one one-hundredth) of a gram is an issue for what you’re doing… you’re going to need a lab quality scale.

AWS-100 50 gramReads 50.01 with a 50 gram calibration weight

AWS-100 20 gramReads 20.00 with a 20 gram calibration weight

AWS-100 10 gramReads 10.00 with a 10 gram calibration weight

AWS-100 2 gramReads 2.01 with a 2 gram calibration weight

AWS-100 Homebrewing reviewReads 1 with a 1 gram calibration weight

AWS-100 Homebrewing reviewReads .50 with a 500 milligram calibration weight

AWS-100 Homebrewing reviewReads .21 with a 200 milligram calibration weight

AWS-100 Homebrewing reviewReads .11 with a 100 milligram calibration weight.  Getting a reading on this light of a weight verifies that this scale is good for both hops and water salts.  It’s not really necessary (at least in my book) to get down to tenths of a gram for hops (although it’s nice to be able to do).  It is necessary to get down to this range for water salts.

AWS-100 Homebrewing reviewWeighing 28 grams (about one ounce) of calibration weights using the AWS-100.  Hops and water salts are a couple of things that I like to weigh in metric.  The other is… yeast starter wort.  That is very easy to formulate using liters and grams.  1 liter of water goes with 100 grams  DME.  If you need a .5 liter starter it would be .5 liter of water + 50 grams of DME.

AWS 100 nickel calibration weightTip: a US Nickel is right at 5 grams

AWS 100 sizeFor size reference… next to a 3 piece airlock

AWS 100 refractometerSize reference… next to the RSG-100ATC Dual Scale Refractometer

cln_img_6910Weighing a stainless sample cup (part of my Brew Day Box).  This is a good example of the beauty of the Tare Feature.  Notice that the scale reads 39.45 grams.

AWS 100 tareA press of the Tare button effectively zeroes out the scale.

AWS 100 hops scaleBecause the container is subtracted, I’m weighing just the contents.  That means I have 35.22 grams of Amarillo hops here.

aws-100 gram scale reviewOne thing I have wondered is… Can you weigh more than the capacity of a scale using the Tare Feature.  The answer, at least for this scale, is yes.  I put a 100 gram weight on the scale, Tared it and then put a 50 gram weight on the scale.

This is a great scale with excellent resolution and accuracy that is perfect for hops and water salts.

American Weigh 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale


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Hands On: Gemco 4 Oz Measuring and Tasting Glass

I use several of these puppies around my brewery and more.  I’ve used them for general measuring and as beer taster glasses.  I’ve also used them for espresso shots in coordination with my Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine.


Ounce Measurements

Teaspoon Measurements

Tablespoon Measurements

Milliliter Measurements

Sometimes these sorts of measuring devices are to be considered… ballpark.  This photo shows 29.5 grams of water.  29.57 grams equals one fluid ounce of water.  Within the limitations of this scale - Fast Weight MS-500-BLK - (1/10th gram)… this measuring glass is right on.

29.5 Grams of Water

Using this as a taster glass to try some tasty Kiwi IPA

Purchase DateAs this update – 12/10/2014 – I’ve used these for just over 1 year.  They are still working great and look like new…

Beer TastersYou can see a couple up to date pictures in my recent review of RiteBrew’s Sampler Paddle.  These glasses fit great in that paddle.

One problem that any glass can have is markings washing off.  I haven’t had that problem (for over a year now) and I’ve put these guys through some arguably rough treatment.  As mentioned previously, one of the things I use these for is espresso.  When used for that, these get near boiling liquid poured in them.  The measurement marks still look like new.  I will say that I’ve never put these in my dishwasher. These are rugged, accurate and versatile measuring glasses. Fox Run Mini Measuring Glass, 4-Ounce

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Recent Amazon Finds: Review:GemcoMeasuringGlasses

Hands On: RiteBrew’s 4 Hole Sampler Paddle & Barbary Sample Glasses

Review RiteBrew Tasting Paddle

RiteBrew has a great selection of beer tasting gear including some unique sampler glasses (including Belgian and Pilsner Style Sampler Glasses) along with a couple of very reasonably price sample paddles.  They have a finished 4 position paddle for just $6.39 and an unfished 6 position paddle for just $5.99.  Here’s a quick look at the 4 hole sampler paddle using RiteBrew’s Barbary Style Tasting Glasses.

RiteBrew Tasting Sampler Paddle Homebrew Craft BeerA look at the paddle… Hey it looks nice!

RiteBrew Tasting Sampler Paddle Homebrew Craft BeerClose up of the wood grain and finish (click for a closer view).  It’s my theory that these holes are here to make it easy to get wet glasses off.  That way no vacuum can form.

Beer Taster PaddleI’m going to call the size of these holes about 1 7/8″

RiteBrew Tasting Sampler Paddle Homebrew Craft BeerThe paddle loaded up with Barbary Style Glasses

RiteBrew Tasting Sampler Paddle Homebrew Craft BeerSide view.  It’s worth noting that the Barbary Style are the only glasses that RiteBrew sells
that fit in their paddles.  The other glasses are very nice, just don’t plan on using them with the paddle.

Beer TastersMy Gemco 4 Ounce Measuring/Tasting Glasses - Hands On – fit nicely in the paddle.  These are nice little multi-tasking glasses.  Nice tasters and handy measuring glasses.

Gemco Measuring GlassClose up on the fit of the Gemco Glasses

Barbary Taster GlassThe Barbary Glasses fit great

Barbary TasterA look at just the Barbary Glass

Barbary Taster Glass Perfect BeakerThe capacity of these glasses is listed at 4.5 ounces.  My Emsa Perfect Beaker shows them at about 5 ounces.  So 4.5 ounces usable with 1/2 ounce for headspace.

Oatmeal Stout

The Barbary Glass filled with some delicious RiteBrew Oatmeal Stout

These are high quality and for around $6 they are… a bargain.  The Barbary Style glasses are also great little tasting glasses.

871452 – Sampler Paddle – 4 hole – $6.39

871456 – Sampler Paddle – 6 hole – $5.99

871446 – Barbary Sampler Glasses – 4.5oz – Set of 4 – $9.19

Complete Glassware Category

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