Category Archives: Roundup

Updated and Expanded: Portable Draft Beer Serving Options!

Looking for options to serve your draft beer on the go?  Here’s a roundup of some of the available options for your next tailgate or get together.

Included in this Post:

  • Growlers
  • Carbonation Caps – used with PET Bottles
  • A Hybrid Solution
  • Small Draft Systems
  • Tips and Tools for Filling Growlers and Small Draft Containers
  • Techniques and equipment for dispensing full corny kegs of beer
  • Portable Systems
  • Other Issues: Chilling and Cloudiness


Growlers:
One of the easiest options to serve your homebrew on the go is filling up a growler.  See below for tips on getting a good growler fill.  Standard growlers are easy to be had.  This section focuses on some of the more interesting options.

2L, German made and pressure capable.  This is a great growler that I use myself.

Sources: More BeerNorthern Brewer - AIH - Midwest Supplies

The remaining growlers are stainless.  These are great because you can take them to the beach or the pool without being concerned about broken glass…

64 oz, 18/8 Stainless, Double Wall, Vacuum Insulated Growler.  The vacuum insulation on this thing is amazing.  Check out my extensive Hands on Review that includes temp trials.  This growler is a Top Find.

Lifeline 7500 Silver Stainless Steel Growler – 64 oz. Capacity

64 oz+, 18/8 Stainless, Double Wall, Vacuum Insulated Growler.  It’s labeled as 64 oz but it’s actually about 69 oz.  That extra space gives you head space, much like a traditional glass growler.  Check out my Hands on Review of this growler.  If you’re looking for a double wall, vacuum insulated growler, this is my current top pick.

Lifeline 7508 Silver Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Double Wall Barrel Style Growler – 64 oz. Capacity

64 oz, 18/8 Stainless, Double Wall, Vacuum Insulated Growler.  Same idea as the smaller (7500) Lifeline, generally this one is a bit more expensive.

Hydro Flask Insulated Stainless Steel Wide Mouth Drinking Bottle



Mini Keg Style Growler from Deep Wood Products.


Stainless Steel Mini-Keg Growler GL530 - $34.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order

Carbonation Caps:
Carbonation caps allow you to pressurize your beer inside of 1 and 2 Liter PET bottles for quick carbonation and transport.

Fill the 1L or 2L Bottle just like you would a growler, put on a carbonating cap and pressurize for easy transport.  See a full write up on the Kent Systems solution here.

This has the advantage of being more economical and safer vs a glass growler.  Generally, PET plastic bottles will not shatter.  Also, handy if you want to go into an area that restricts glass such as a pool area.


Kent Systems Soda Bottle Cap and QD - $9.99  + Free Shipping with a $59 order



The “Carbonator Cap”.  Same idea as the Kent Systems Cap.  This has a built in ball lock connection so you can hook it right up to your kegerator CO2 lines.

Sources: More Beer - AIHLabel PeelersNorthern Brewer - Midwest Supplies - Amazon

Hybrid Solution:

The Drink Tanks Growler (with Keg Cap) is a hybrid between a growler and a small draft setup.  It has a double wall, vacuum seal, stainless design and the Keg Cap provides includes tubing and a faucet.  With the Keg Cap installed, the Drink Tanks Growler is a portable, small draft setup.  An included CO2 charger pressurizes the system.  With the double wall insulation (depending on your surroundings) you can use this without chilling it for a good bit of time.

Check it out - Here


Small Draft Setups:
Small kegging setups that lend themselves to easy transport.  You can either fill from your kegerator or bottle condition directly in these.

Tap a Draft System.  I’m a happy Tap a Draft user.  This system comes with three 1.5 Gallon Bottles, A Tap and CO2 Cartridges for serving.  4.5 gallon total capacity is just about the perfect size for a finished 5 gallon batch.  Or, fill one bottle up off of your kegerator faucet.  This tap also works with 3L PET Soda Bottles.

Sources: More BeerNorthern BrewerAmazon

Party Pig Dispenser

Party Pig bottles hold 2.25 Gallons of Beer.  Instead of using CO2 Cartridges, the party pig uses an expanding pouch.

Sources: AIHAmazonMidwest Supplies

Tips and Tools for Filling Growlers and Small Draft Containers:


Filling a growler or small draft dispenser from your draft setup is an easy and straightforward process…
  1. Start with a cold growler.  I suggest putting it in your kegerator so it’s the exact same temperature as your beer.  This will reduce foaming.
  2. Having a wet growler also helps reduce foam.  Put Star San in your growler prior to chilling, swirl it around to coat all surfaces and discard jut prior to filling.  If you’ll be drinking the growler right away, you can just use fresh, cold tap water.
  3. If you’re using picnic taps a 3/8″ ID section of tubing should fit nicely on the end of your taps.  If you’re using a Perlick style faucet, a section of 1/2″ ID tubing should fit on your faucet.  Make sure the tubing is long enough to hit the bottom of the growler.  Turn down the pressure to 4 or 5 psi and slowly fill.  Close on foam and you’re good to go.

More Beer sells some very economical stainless growler fillers.  These slip right in your faucet.


There are two versions of this.  One for standard faucets and one for Perlick faucets.  Just add a length of 3/8th” tubing to either one of these and you’re up and going.

Stainless Steel Growler Filler – Fits Standard Faucets D1222 - $4.49

Stainless Steel Growler Fillers – For Perlick 525 Faucet D1224 - $4.99

Serving your full Corny Keg of Beer:
Now we transition into solutions for serving full Cornelius kegs of beer.  Combine your keg full of homebrew with some sort of faucet and a CO2 source.

Faucet Options:

This is nice because it provides plenty of resistance for foam control, takes up minimal space and looks great.

Sources: More Beer - AmazonAIH

Pin Lock Version:

Pin Lock QD Faucet Assembly - $36 + Free Shipping with a $59 order

Draft Boxes
These are for serving beer that isn’t necessarily cold yet.  Ice in the cooler gets beer down to serving temperature quickly.  These can take some work to dial in.  I’d consider a draft box only for bigger events where you’re going to serve a considerable amount of beer.



Sources: More BeerAdventures in Homebrewing

Sources: More BeerAdventures in HomebrewingNorthern Brewer

Cold plates are available separately if you want to put your own draft box together.

1 Circuit/Tap2 Circuits/Taps


Of course, you can also use a picnic or cobra tab and tubing


CO2/Pressure Options:

These handheld chargers are great.  Compact and easy to use.  If you go with this option, I’d recommend running the thing yourself.  Guests tend to squeeze it for fun and sport and empty out the cartridge in short order.  You just need a couple of taps to keep the pressure at an acceptable level for serving.

Ball Lock Handheld CO2 Charger - $29.99 + Free Shipping with a $59 order


Pin Lock Version:
CO2 Injector Pin Lock - $29.99 + Free Shipping with a $59 order

Keg Charger without QD.  Same ideas as the previous two options, just add your own pin or ball lock QD.

Sources: AmazonNorthern Brewer - AIHLabel Peelers

Similar to the handheld unit above, but with a regulator and much larger CO2 cartridges.  The CO2 cartridge on this is more than 4 times larger than the injector featured above.  The regulator also means it takes care of itself.  I have one of these and love it.  It has come in handy as a backup CO2 source when my main tank ran empty.  You could also use this to keep an already carbonated keg at a different pressure/carbonation level from your main CO2 source.

Sources: More Beer (Ball Lock or Pin Lock), Midwest Supplies (with CO2, no CO2)


74g CO2 Cartridges: More BeerMidwest Supplies


Use a compact Paintball CO2 tank to dispense your beer using this CO2 regulator designed for the task.  Much more portable than your 5, 10 or 20 lb tank.

Paintball Tank Regulator - $52.98


Adventures in Homebrewing has a number of adapters that allow you use use other types of tanks and regulators together.  The selection includes the pictured adapter that allows you to use a Sodastream tank with your CO2 Regulator and adapters that allow you to use paintball tanks with your CO2 Regulator.  Check out AIH’s CO2 Tanks and Accessories Page for more info.


If you know you’re going to go through a whole keg, or multiple kegs, this hand pump is a great option.  No tubing or CO2 to bother with.  Of course, it’s going to cause oxidation, but that doesn’t matter if you’re drinking the beer quickly.

Ball Lock Hand Pump - $36.99

2.5 Gallon Kegs
If you’re looking for a smaller, more portable keg, check out this 2.5 gallon model.  I own two of these and they are great.


Portable Systems:
There are some systems on the market that are designed with portability in mind.
The “Tailgate Kegging System” from Adventures in Homebrewing includes a new 3 gallon keg, small CO2 tank, regulator, tubing, disconnects and faucet.  Check it out – Here
This 2.5 gallon system from More Beer includes a new 2.5 gallon keg, CO2 tank, regulator, tubing disconnects and faucet.  Check it out – Here

Other Issues:Chilling
A 5-6 gallon bucket with ice has worked well for me.  Some of the cube and beverage coolers fit smaller 2.5 and 3 gallon kegs well.  

Cloudiness
If you don’t filter your beer and decide to strap your keg on the back of an ATV and take off, you’ll soon figure out why people filter their beer as your guests remark at how Budweiser doesn’t have the same chunks of yeast that your beer has.

Options…
1.  Get it in place ahead of time and let it settle.
2.  Filter it.  Hands on Review - Here
3.  Transfer clear beer to a new keg and leave any yeast behind.

Got an option to add to the list?  Email Homebrew Finds!

This is a Top Post!  Check out Recent Posts - Here


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Rhizomes Shipping Soon + Rhizome Roundup and Planning Your Garden

Spring is in the air, well, kind of.  Anyway, it’s the time of year to think about growing hops and other homebrewing ingredients.

It’s not too late to get hop rhizomes ordered.  Some shops have closed down hop rhizome pre-orders, but some are still available…

Rhizomes should be shipping relatively soon.  For example, More Beer estimates mid-April.

Update: Northern Brewer said via Twitter: “We just received word the Rhizomes will be shipping first thing next week.”

Also Consider:



Maintaining Fermentation Temps in Colder Weather

Fermentation temperature has a lot to do with how your finished beer turns out.  

For many of us, colder temperatures are on the way or already here.  You may need a boost to keep fermentation temperatures up.  Here’s a roundup of some of the available options.


This fermentation heater is attached to your fermenter using tape.

Electric Fermentation Heater - $29.99

The FermWrap heater is attached to your fermenter using tape.  Directions say that it is okay to use this in conjunction with a carboy bag.  40 Watts.  Ability to raise temperature from 5 to 20 deg F from ambient.

The FermWrap Heater FE650 - $29.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order


15 Watts.  Ability to raise temperature about 10 deg F from ambient.


The Brew Belt - $21.99


You set your fermenter on this mat

I use a reptile heating mat in my fermentation deep freeze when I need to warm the space up a bit.  Think of these as heating pads that are designed to operate constantly.

The mat I’m using is 9 Watts.  It has no trouble raising my fermentation deep freeze (located in my basement) by several degrees.  I use this throughout the year whenever I want to push fermentation temperatures higher.  I do not set my fermenter on my mat.  I use it only to warm up the ambient air inside my fermentation deep freeze.


Zoo Med manufactures three sizes of these mats.  The small is 8 watts, the medium is 16 watts and the large is 24 watts.  Here is the specifications page from the manufacturers website.


Zoo Med ReptiTherm Under Tank Heater, Small - $13.65 + Free Shipping with $35 order


Zoo Med ReptiTherm Under Tank Heater, Medium - $16.89 + Free Shipping with $35 order

Zoo Med ReptiTherm Under Tank Heater, Large - $23.26 + Free Shipping with $35 order

Temp Controllers:

Digital, Wired, Single Stage.  This has the ability to control one device to maintain temperature.  By default, it’s configured to run a cooling device.  You can configure it to turn a heating device by changing the position of a jumper.

Johnson A419 Digital Temp Controller - $74.98 + Free Shipping


Digital, Wired, Single Stage.  This dual stage controller can run both a heating and a cooling device.  This helps to fine tune fermentation temperature.

Ranco Wired - $99.95 + Free Shipping


Check out our Temp Controller Roundup Post for more options

Pinned10 Gal Cooler *Wine Kit Coupon *PSA IPA *Rhizomes *Growler *NB Flat Rate Ship

Recent Finds:

Maintaining Fermentation Temps in Colder Weather

Fermentation temperature has a lot to do with how your finished beer turns out.  

For many of us, colder temperatures are on the way or already here.  You may need a boost to keep fermentation temperatures up.  Here’s a roundup of some of the available options.


This fermentation heater is attached to your fermenter using tape.

Electric Fermentation Heater – $29.99

The FermWrap heater is attached to your fermenter using tape.  Directions say that it is okay to use this in conjunction with a carboy bag.  40 Watts.  Ability to raise temperature from 5 to 20 deg F from ambient.

The FermWrap Heater FE650 – $29.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order


15 Watts.  Ability to raise temperature about 10 deg F from ambient.


The Brew Belt – $21.99


You set your fermenter on this mat

I use a reptile heating mat in my fermentation deep freeze when I need to warm the space up a bit.  Think of these as heating pads that are designed to operate constantly.

The mat I’m using is 9 Watts.  It has no trouble raising my fermentation deep freeze (located in my basement) by several degrees.  I use this throughout the year whenever I want to push fermentation temperatures higher.  I do not set my fermenter on my mat.  I use it only to warm up the ambient air inside my fermentation deep freeze.


Zoo Med manufactures three sizes of these mats.  The small is 8 watts, the medium is 16 watts and the large is 24 watts.  Here is the specifications page from the manufacturers website.


Zoo Med ReptiTherm Under Tank Heater, Small - $13.65 + Free Shipping with $35 order


Zoo Med ReptiTherm Under Tank Heater, Medium - $16.89 + Free Shipping with $35 order

Zoo Med ReptiTherm Under Tank Heater, Large - $23.26 + Free Shipping with $35 order

Temp Controllers:

Digital, Wired, Single Stage.  This has the ability to control one device to maintain temperature.  By default, it’s configured to run a cooling device.  You can configure it to turn a heating device by changing the position of a jumper.

Johnson A419 Digital Temp Controller - $74.98 + Free Shipping


Digital, Wired, Single Stage.  This dual stage controller can run both a heating and a cooling device.  This helps to fine tune fermentation temperature.

Ranco Wired - $99.95 + Free Shipping


Check out our Temp Controller Roundup Post for more options

This is a Top Post!  Check out Recent Posts - Here

Update: Portable Beer Serving Options!

Looking for options to serve your draft beer on the go?  Here’s a roundup of some of the available options for your next tailgate or get together.

Growlers

One of the easiest options to serve your homebrew on the go is filling up a growler.

Filling a growler from your draft setup is an easy and straightforward process

  1. Start with a cold growler.  I suggest putting it in your kegerator so it’s the exact same temperature as your beer.  This will reduce foaming.
  2. Having a wet growler also seems to help reduce foam.  Put Star San in your growler prior to chilling, swirl it around to coat all surfaces and discard jut prior to filling.
  3. If you’re using picnic taps a 3/8″ ID section of tubing should fit nicely on the end of your taps.  If you’re using a Perlick style faucet, a section of 1/2″ ID tubing should fit on your faucet.  Make sure the tubing is long enough to hit the bottom of the growler.  Turn down the pressure to 4 or 5 psi and slowly fill.  Close on foam and you’re good to go.  Growler filling attachments are also available.  See below for some options.

2L, German made and pressure capable.  This is a great growler that I use myself.

2L Swing Top Growler GL520 - $27.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order


Standard  64 oz Growler
Beer Growler (64oz) - $7.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order

1L, German made and pressure capable.  Hands on Review

Brown 1 Liter Growler - $16 + Shipping


64 oz stainless steel.  No worries about broken glass with this one.  Great for the pool or beach.


Stainless Steel Beer Growler – 64 oz - $31.95 Shipped

64 oz, 18/8 Stainless, Double Walled Growler.  The vacuum insulation on this thing is amazing.  Check out my extensive Hands on Review that includes temp trials.  This growler is a Top Find.  This is also available in Black and White versions.

Lifeline 7500 Silver Stainless Steel Growler – 64 oz. Capacity - $28.99 Shipped

Same idea as the Lifeline, generally this one is a bit more expensive.  Double wall insulated 18/8 stainless, 64 ounce growler.  No worries about broken glass with this one.  Great for the pool or beach.

Hydro Flask Insulated Stainless Steel Wide Mouth Drinking Bottle - Price Varies

40 ounce version of the Lifeline Vacuum Insulated Container.  Check out my Hands on Review.  Also available in Pink, Blue, White and Orange.

Lifeline 7502 Silver Stainless Steel Wide Mouth Water Bottle – 40 oz. Capacity - $20.98 + Free Shipping with $25 order

Carbonator Cap/Kent Systems Soda Bottle Cap
Same idea as the growler, just using inexpensive 1L and 2L PET Soda Bottles. From a tailgating perspective, this is probably preferable vs a glass growler.  Fill up several 2L bottles and you’re good to go.

Fill the 1L or 2L Bottle just like you would a growler, put on a carbonating cap and pressurize for easy transport.  See a full write up on the Kent Systems solution here.

This has the advantage of being more economical and safer vs a glass growler.  PET plastic bottles will not shatter.  Also, handy if you want to go into an area that restricts glass such as a pool area.


Kent Systems Soda Bottle Cap and QD - $9.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order


Same idea as the Kent Systems Cap.  This has a built in ball lock connection.

Carbonator Cap – KEG580 - $14.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order


Growler filling attachments are also available…

There are two versions of this.  One for standard faucets and one for Perlick faucets.  Just add a length of 3/8th” tubing to either one of these and you’re up and going.

Stainless Steel Growler Filler – Fits Standard Faucets D1222 - $2.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order

Stainless Steel Growler Fillers – For Perlick 525 Faucet D1224 - $3.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order

Small Draft Setups
Small kegging setups that lend themselves to easy transport.  You can either fill from your kegerator or bottle condition directly in these.

I’m a happy Tap a Draft user!  This system comes with three 1.5 Gallon Bottles, A Tap and CO2 Cartridges for serving.  4.5 gallon total capacity is just about the perfect size for a finished 5 gallon batch.  Or, fill one bottle up off of your kegerator faucet.  This tap also works with 3L PET Soda Bottles.

Tap A Draft - $69.95 Shipped


Party Pig Dispenser

Similar to the Tap a Draft.  Party Pig Bottles Hold 2.25 Gallons of Beer.

Instead of using CO2 Cartridges, the party pig uses an expanding pouch.

Party Pig Dispenser - $39.99


5L Mini Kegs

Serving your full Corny Keg of Beer
Now we transition into solutions for serving full Cornelius kegs of beer.  Combine your keg full of homebrew with a faucet and a CO2 source.

Faucet Options

This is nice because it provides plenty of resistance for foam control, takes up minimal space and looks great.

Faucet Quick Disconnect Assembly - $36 + Free Shipping with a $59 order


Pin Lock Version:

Pin Lock QD Faucet Assembly - $36  + Free Shipping with a $59 order

Draft Boxes
These are for serving beer that isn’t necessarily cold yet.  Ice in the cooler quickly gets beer down to serving temperature quickly.  I’d consider a draft box only for bigger events where you’re going to serve a considerable amount of beer.



Draft Box – 1 Faucet - $169.95 Shipped

Draft Box – Two Faucet - $289.95 Shipped

Picnic Tap

‘nuf said

CO2/Pressure Options

These things are great.  Compact and easy to use.  If you go with this option, I’d recommend running the thing yourself.  Guests tend to squeeze this for fun and sport and empty out the cartridge in short order.  You just need a couple of taps to keep the pressure at an acceptable level for serving.

Ball Lock Handheld CO2 Charger - $24.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order


Pin Lock Version:
CO2 Injector Pin Lock - $22.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order

Similar to the handheld unit above, but with a regulator and larger CO2 cartridges.  The CO2 cartridge on this is more than 4 times larger than the injector featured above.  The regulator also means this takes care of itself.  I have one of these and love it.  It has come in handy as a backup CO2 source when my main tank ran empty.  You could also use this to keep an already carbonated keg at a different pressure/carbonation level from your main CO2 source.

Mini CO2 Regulator Kit - $134.95 Shipped


Pin Lock Version:
Use a compact Paintball CO2 tank to dispense your beer using this CO2 regulator designed for the task.  Much more portable than your 5, 10 or 20 lb tank.

Paintball Tank Regulator - $84.95


If you know you’re going to go through a whole keg, or multiple kegs, this hand pump is a great option.  No tubing or CO2 to bother with.  Of course, it’s going to cause oxidation, but that doesn’t matter if you’re drinking the beer quickly.

Ball Lock Hand Pump - $36.99

2.5 Gallon Kegs
If you’re looking for a smaller, more portable keg, check out this 2.5 gallon model.  I own two of these and they are great.  Check out my hands on review here

2.5 Gallon Ball Lock Keg New - $119 $69.99 (currently a pre-order sale)

Chilling
A 5-6 gallon bucket with ice has worked well for me.

Cloudiness
If you don’t filter your beer and decide to strap your keg on the back of an ATV and take off, you’ll soon figure out why people filter their beer as your guests remark at how Budweiser doesn’t have the same chunks of yeast that your beer has.

Options…
1.  Get it in place ahead of time and let it settle.
2.  Filter it.  Hands on Review - Here
3.  Transfer clear beer to a new keg and leave any yeast behind.

Got an option to add to the list?  Email Homebrew Finds!

This is a Top Post!  Check out Recent Posts - Here


MoreRecent FindsAmazonAmazon FillersAdventures in HomebrewingMore BeerBottlingDraftKegsCO2 HardwarePortable ServingRoundupsTop Posts


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Update: Storage Options – Base Grain, Specialty Grain and DME!


When it comes to storing grain and DME, we’re concerned about keeping the ingredients fresh, away from oxygen and moisture and away from possible pests.  Beyond that convenient access and efficient use of space are issues to consider.

Buckets
Buckets are one of the most basic and popular options out there.  

A 5 gallon bucket holds about 25 lbs of grain.  Two buckets = a 50 lb bag.  Two 6 gallon buckets would comfortably hold a 55 lb bag.

The advantage of these is primarily cost.  Some lids are not airtight.  The airtight or nearly airtight lids can be difficult to put on and take off.  Also, you will be carrying these.  Some of the other options have wheels for convenience.  Definitely a solid option for the price. 

6 Gallon Bucket - $11.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order

Lid - $1.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order

5 Gallon White Bucket & Lid – Set of 3 – Durable 90 Mil All Purpose Pail – Food Grade – BPA Free Plastic – $20

Buckets + Gamma Lids
Probably, the next step up is adding gamma lids to your buckets.

These fit on standard 3.5 to 7 gallon buckets.  You attach the base of the unit to the bucket and leave that intact.  The lid screws on and off.  These fix a couple of issues that buckets have on their own.  First, gamma lids are airtight.  Second, the lids screw on and off easily.  No more prying lids.  Check out my Hands On Review of Gamma Seal Lids – Here

Gamma Seal Lid – ASSORTED COLORS – $10.65 + Free Shipping with $25 order


Now we transition into pet food-type containers.  These work great because they are typically food safe, designed to be airtight, they can hold a lot and they have convenient features like easy access lids, see through sides and wheels.
Iris 60-69 QT Airtight Pet Food Storage Container


Airtight, Food Safe, Large Easy Access Lid, Clear Sides to Gauge Contents and Wheels.

This will comfortably hold a full 50-55 lb sack of grain.  At 5 lbs per gallon, this would hold 75 lbs of malt.


Vittles Vault II 40 LB


Airtight, FDA Approved, Food Safe, BPA Free, Large Easy Access Lid and Clear Sides to Gauge Contents.

The 40 lb rating is for pet food.  This holds a full 50 lb sack of grain.  Made from heavy duty food grade plastic.

Bergan Smart Storage 50 LB
Thanks for Facebook friend Eric for pointing this product line out to me!
Stackable, Airtight, Food Safe and Large Easy Access Lid.

They claim the largest top opening in the 50 lb pet food container category.  Holds a full sack of grain.

Bergan Smart Storage 50 LB - $28.56 Shipped

Vittles Vault 40 LB Stackable
This uses the same closure as the gamma lids mentioned above.

Stackable, Airtight, FDA Approved, Food Safe, BPA Free, Large Easy Access Lid, Space Efficient, Made from high quality impact resistant plastic and pest proof.
Note: 40 lb rating is for pet food.  This will hold a full 50 lb bag of grain but not in the pictured orientation.  The back of the container must be down.  In that orientation they are not stackable.  These hold approximately 42 lbs in the stackable orientation.   If you’re buying and storing full sacks of grain, I recommend to the 60 lb version.

Vittles Vault Stackable 40 lb - $34.18 Shipped


Stackable, Airtight, FDA Approved, Food Safe, BPA Free, Large Easy Access Lid, Space Efficient, Made from high quality impact resistant plastic and pest proof.

All the advantages of the 40 lb Vittles vault with 50% more capacity.  Easily holds 50-55 lbs sacks of grain.



Buddeez Containers
Thanks to HBF Reader Jason for the heads up on this series of containers!

12 1/2 Gallon Size


Airtight, FDA Approved, Food Safe, BPA Free, Large Easy Access Lid, Clear Sides to Gauge Contents and Wheels.

12.5 gallons.  At 5 lbs/gallon this holds around 62.5 lbs of grain.

Buddeez 12-1/2-Gallon Roll-Away Pet Food Dispenser with Scoop - $29.99 Shipped

20 Gallon Size!

Airtight, FDA Approved, Food Safe, BPA Free, Large Easy Access Lid, Clear Sides to Gauge Contents and Wheels.

At a whopping 80 quarts/20 gallons, this should hold approximately 100 lbs of grain!

Buddeez 80-Quart Roll-Away Pet and Large Animal Food Dispenser with Scoop - $37.97 + $10.43 Shipping

Other options
Some have mentioned using trash cans, totes and other similar types of containers.  Those may work for you, depending on your situation and the environment you’re in.  I have stuck to airtight options for this post.

Specialty Grain Storage

Iris 11-12 QT
At a rate of 5 lbs of grain per gallon, this should comfortably hold 12.5 lbs of grain.  Airtight, see through sides

Iris 11-12 QT Airtight Container - $10.99 + Free Shipping with $25 order

Vittles Vault Jr
1.3 Gallon capacity.  Around 6.5 lbs grain storage capacity.  Airtight.

Vittles Vault Jr - $13.00 + Free Shipping with $25 order

Bergan Smart Storage 10 LB
This should hold around 12.5 lbs of grain.  Airtight, lid snaps into place for pouring, easy access handle on bottom and no scoop is required.

Bergan Smart Storage 10 LB - $14.49 + Free Shipping with $25 order

Buddeez 8 Quart/2 Gallon

Airtight, BPA Free, Clear Sides, FDA approved food safe.  2 Gallons capacity should hold around 10 lbs of grain.

Buddeez 8-Quart Dispenser for Pet Food and Bird Seed -

DME/Specialty Grain Storage
These containers should work for both specialty grains and Dry Malt Extract storage.

Rubbermaid Cereal Keeper


Airtight, Food Safe.  1.5 Gallon Capacity.  1.5 US Gallons equates to 5.67 Liters.  My rule of thumb for smaller containers is 1.25 lbs per liter.  That means this should hold around 7.09 lbs of grain.

Rubbermaid 5161-RD Cereal Keeper - $9.82 + Free Shipping with $25 order


Snapware Containers

4 liter/17 cup capacity airtight, BPA free container.  Holds 5 lbs of grain or 4.57 lbs of DME.  Check out my hands on review – Here.

Snapware MODS Medium Rectangle Storage Container 17 Cups – $7.99 + Free Shipping with $25 order

5.44 liter/23 cup capacity airtight, BPA free container.  This should hold around 6.8 lbs of grain.

Airtight Medium Rectangle 23 Cup 8X6X9 – $23.99 + Free Shipping with $25 order


Vacuum Sealing
I use a FoodSaver vacuum sealer for hop storage.  I also use it to store and preserve small amounts (1 to 2 lbs) of specialty grains.  I’ve also stored entire bags of grain in FoodSaver bags.  I don’t recommend that, but I’ve done it.

For smaller amounts of specialty grains I usually just put the whole bag of grains inside a FoodSaver bag and vacuum seal it.

Mason Jars

You can also use Mason jars along with your FoodSaver’s Accessory port to store grain.  Using my rule of thumb 1.25 lbs per liter, the half gallon size jars should hold around 2.36 lbs of grain and the quart jars should hold around 1.17 lbs of grain.  Mason jars are reusable, are oxygen impermeable and you can easily see the contents.

Wide vs Narrow: Wide Mouth Mason Jars are well… wide.  Both narrow and wide work, but wide jars give you easier access to contents.



1/2 Gallon Mason Jars
Ace Hardware: Ball 64oz Wide Mouth Mason Jars (68100) – 6 Pack - $12.99 + ship to store

Amazon: Ball Wide Mouth Half Gallon Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 6 - $28.22 Shipped

Quart/32 oz Jars
Ace Hardware: Ball 32oz Wide Mouth Mason Jars (67000) – 12 Pack – $13.99 + ship to store

Amazon: Ball Wide Mouth Quart Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 12 – $17.74 + Free Shipping with $25 order


FoodSaver Mason Jar Sealer

Jar sealers and caps come in two sizes to fit both wide mouth and regular mouth jars.


FoodSaver T03-0006-01 Regular-Mouth Jar Sealer - $9.99 + Free Shipping with $25 order

Storage Caps:
If you want or need to skip the FoodSaver part, Ball makes a storage cap.  That also comes in two sizes depending on jar size.

Ball Plastic Storage Caps Wide Mouth - $6.94 + Free Shipping with $25 order

Ball Plastic Storage Caps Regular Mouth - $4.06 + Ships Free as an Add-On


FoodSaver:
This model includes an accessory port that’s required to use the Mason Jar sealing attachment. 

FoodSaver V2244 Advanced Design Vacuum Sealer, Black - $79.50 Shipped

VacMaster Storage Roll, 8-Inch by 50-Feet Long, 1 Roll per Box - $15.95 + Free Shipping with $25 order

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Reader Tip: Half Gallon Mason Jars + Mason Jar Resource Roundup!

I use Mason jars to store grain, in particular smaller amounts of specialty grain.  I seal these with my FoodSaver’s Mason Jar attachment.  You can also store hops and other brewing ingredients using the same attachment.

HBF Reader Jeffrey sent me a general tip about 1/2 Gallon Sized Mason Mars.  Thanks Jeffrey!

from Jeffrey:

These aren’t easy to come by, but they’re super useful in the brewery. I use quart and pint mason jars to store canned all-grain starter wort and canned priming sugar, but these half-gallons hold 2# of grain comfortably, 2#4oz if you fill almost to the lid (quarts hold exactly half that). They can be vacuum-sealed using a widemouth FoodSaver vacuum sealer attachment, which is $10 shipped (Prime) on Amazon for either size.

Jeffrey goes on to say that these are available at WinCo Foods (West coast grocery chain) for $9.83 and indicates the next cheapest place to purchase is Ace Hardware.


1/2 Gallon Mason Jars:

Ace Hardware: Ball 64oz Wide Mouth Mason Jars (68100) – 6 Pack – $12.99 + ship to store

Amazon: Ball Wide Mouth Half Gallon Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 6 - $28.60 shipped

Quart/32 oz Jars: 
Ace Hardware: Ball 32oz Regular Mouth Mason Jars (62000) – 12 Pack- $11.99 + ship to store

Amazon: Ball Mason 32-Ounce Canning Jars, Quart, 12 Count - $14.26 + Free Shipping with $25 order

Jar sealers and caps come in two sizes to fit both wide mouth and regular mouth jars.

FoodSaver Mason Jar Sealer:


FoodSaver T03-0006-01 Regular-Mouth Jar Sealer – $13.95 + Free Shipping with $25 order

Storage Caps:


Ball Plastic Storage Caps Wide Mouth – $5.83 + Free Shipping with $25 order

Ball Plastic Storage Caps Regular Mouth – $4.46 + Ships Free as an Add-On


FoodSaver:
This model includes an accessory port that’s required to use the Mason Jar sealing attachment. 

FoodSaver V2244 Advanced Design Vacuum Sealer, Black – $79.50 Shipped


MoreRecent FindsAmazonAmazon FillersAce HardwareStorageGrain StorageFoodSaverVacuum SealingRoundupsReader TipsGreat Deals


More from Amazon:

Homebrewing and Craft Beer iPhone App Super Roundup!

A roundup of many of the major iPhone/iPad/iPod/iOS/iThing apps out there!

Are there other apps that you find useful for brewing or enjoying craft beer?  Add a comment or send an email.  I’ll update this post as necessary.  Also leave a comment to let us know what you like and don’t like about these apps and how you use them for homebrewing and craft beer drinking.


AlcCal – 99 cents
Alcohol Calculator

Beer Alchemy Touch 2 - iPad - $19.99
Full featured recipe formulation and homebrewing app.  Syncs with the mac version of Beer Alchemy.

Beer Buddy Barcode Scanner - $3.99
Beer barcode scanner that pulls reviews and information from RateBeer. 

Beer Calories - iPad - free
Estimate Beer Calories

BeerChooser - iPad - free
“Using a simple one-click rating system, you teach BeerChooser what you like and what you don’t like.”

Beer Explorer - iPad - free
Database of over 5,000 beers

BeerNav - free
“Discover nearby beer places”

BeerProphet - iPad - 99 cents
Beer recommendation app


BeerSmith Lite - iPad - $3.99
iOS version of the extremely popular BeerSmith Software


BIABCalc - iPad - free
BIAB Water Calculator

BJCP Styles - iPad - free
This is a handy app gives a rundown of each BJCP beer style

BrewBot - iPad - $1.99
“Features ingredient data and 19 unique calculators”

BrewCalc - free
Collection of Brewing Calculators

Brewers Friend - $8.99
iPhone version of the popular web based recipe formulation and brewers tool site Brewer’s Friend.  Sign up for a free unlimited duration trial account of the web based version Here.

BrewerTimer - iPad - 99 cents
Hop Addition Timer

BreweryMap - $1.99
“Your pocket guide to breweries everywhere”

Brewing Assistant - iPad - 99 cents
Recipe formulation



Brewing Process iPad - $1.99
Overview of the Brewing Process from the Cicerone Certification Program

Brewium - iPad - $19.99
“Professional Home Brewing Instruction App”

BrewMajig Alcohol Calculator - $1.99
Track alcohol content of your beers

BrewMath - 99 cents
“BrewMath turns your iPod Touch or iPhone into a powerful pocket calculator for brewers.”

BrewPal - 99 cents
Full recipe formulation and brewing related calculators.

Brewski Me – $1.99
“Rate and track your favorite beers with Brewski Me, the beer drinking app!”  Thanks to HBF Twitter Follower Adam for recommending this app!

BrewTime - $1.99
Hop Addition Timer

BrewTimer - 99 cents
Set up your hopping schedule and BrewTimer kindly reminds you.

BrewTools - 99 cents
Collection of brewing calculators

BrewTroller Live - iPad - $1.99
“BrewTroller Live enables you to control your BrewTroller based brewery from your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad.”

BrewWatcher - iPad - $3.99
View BeerTools Pro Recipes on your iPhone/iPad.

Brew Your Own Magazine - iPad - free
Get one Issue for free.  Offers the ability to purchase single issues or subscribe to BYO Magazine in app.  Subscribe to the print edition Here

Convert Units - iPad - free
Not specifically a brewing app.  A handy unit conversion utility.

Find Craft Beer - 99 cents
Craft Beer Locator

Homebrewer Pro iPad - $4.49
“Comprehensive and advanced set of tools for the home beer maker”

Homebrewing-Tools - 99 cents
“Conversion and analysis software for the homebrewer”

HomeBrewTalk Mobile - iPad - free
Mobile version of HomeBrewTalk.com Forums.

Hops - $1.99
“Keep a log of beers you drink with Hops”

iBrewmaster - iPad - $9.99/$14.99
Full featured homebrewing app.  Recipe creation and tracking.  This app has a lot of features including 210 Northern Brewer recipes.  Check out the description for a full list of features.

IBU Calc - iPad  - free
IBU Calculator

IBUcalculator - free
IBU Calculator

iGrill - iPad - free
Not specifically a brewing app.  This allows you to wireless monitor mash, and other temperatures when used in conjunction with an iGrill Thermometer - single probe - dual probe

iHomeBrew - free
“Bring all your homebrew recipes with you!”

iKnurd – 99 cents
Navigate your local Flying Saucer Beer Bar with the official app.  Thanks to HBF Twitter Follower Frank for recommending this app!

iPA Mobile – 99 cents
“iPA makes it easy to formulate and share beer recipes on your iPhone or iPod Touch. iPA helps you calculate your beer’s color, bitterness, and alcohol content and compare your beer to standard styles.”

KegMon - iPad - free
Track keg levels

Mr Malty Yeast Calculator - $4.99
An iOS version of Jamil Zainasheff’s excellent yeast pitching rate calculator.

My Brew - $1.99
Recipe Formulation, Ratings and Timers

PocketBrewer - free
Calculate Beer and Wine Alcohol content

Recipe Timer - $4.99
Not specifically a brewing app.  Track recipe steps and procedures.

RefracTool - 99 cents
Refractometer Brix to Gravity Calculations

Sparge Pal - free
Mash and sparge calculator

TapHunter - free
“The Craft Beer Finder”

Untappd - free
Access to Untappd Social Craft Beer Network.  Follow Homebrew Finds on Untappd

What to Brew - free
Suggests your next brew

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Refractometer Roundup!

Refractometers allow you to measure the the sugar content of a liquid by measuring the amount of refraction that sugar causes as light passes through a sugary substance (wort).

For me, getting a refractometer was one of those upgrades that made a lot of difference.  With a refractometer you need a sample size of two drops.  I figured that this would pay for itself in beer savings alone.  I also had just broken my hydrometer and came to the realization that hydrometers are made of breakable glass that can break! :)


Some Terms:

Degrees Brix (°Bx) – Refractometers that homebrewers typically use measure in Degrees Brix.  Brix are simply a scale to measure sugar content.  You can quickly get an idea of Gravity points by multiplying °Bx by 4.  This isn’t 100% accurate by is close, especially at lower gravity.

Automatic Temperature Correction (ATC) - Refractometers with ATC have the ability to compensate for temperature within a certain range.  That has a lot to do with the small mass of the sample size.  Two drops cools down quickly when it encounters the mass of the refractometer glass.  Even so, many recommend cooling down the sample a bit even when using a unit with ATC.


Single Scale/Dual Scale – A single scale refractomter shows readings in one scale, usually °Bx.  A dual scale unit shows readings in both °Bx and Specific Gravity.  This is handy, but only helpful pre-fermentation.  As fermentation commences the alcohol present in your beer throws off light refraction and as a result throws off readings.  So… are refractometers only useful pre-fermentation?  No.  They are useful throughout the fermentation process because of some great work by people like Sean Terrill.  Sean has an excellent write up and subsequent calculator to estimate gravity throughout the fermentation process.  Check that out here.  He also has a spreadsheet version and his formula is including in my brewing spreadsheet with his gracious permission.


Specifications:

Generally refractometers used from homebrewing have a range of 0-32 °Bx and an accuracy of .2 °Bx.  32 °Bx equates to a specific gravity of 1.139, so… that should do it for most beers.

Price and Availability:

Refractometers seem to be a bit of a unique equipment purchase when it comes to price and availability.  Some of the best places to acquire these (when thinking about price) are Amazon and eBay.  Both availability and price are all over the map and are in a near constant state of change.  To give you an idea about price volatility on these… One of these units changed price while I was writing this post.  I will give you links and prices as of this writing, but I’ll also try to give you some more general resources.

Low Prices?

I often get questions about the low prices that can be had for refractometers and resulting concern that these units will fall apart.  I’ve used an eBay sourced refractometer for years.  Many others have done the same.  I’m not sure why there’s such a difference but I can say that quality refractometers can be had for below $30.  If you’re running a lab and using this instrument every day, that is very obviously, a different situation.  Get a lab quality unit.

Other Uses:
You can also estimate the alcohol content of your beer if you forget to take an OG with the use of a refractometer and a hydrometer.  Take a looks at the Tips Page for more on that.


On to the units:

Sorted by seller and then price

eBay:

via eBay seller opticalfactory.  Single scale, ATC.

This seller is generally a good source for brewing refractometers.  If this specific unit is not available, check out this sellers current offerings - here - for a similar unit.


0-32%ATC Brix Refractometer - $20.90 Shipped


via eBay seller opticalfactory.  Dual Scale, ATC.   I own this refractometer - some pictures

This seller is generally a good source for brewing refractometers.  If this specific unit is not available, check out this sellers current offerings - here - for a similar unit.


Economic Beer Wort and Wine Refractometer,Dual Scale – Specific Gravity and Brix – $22.76 Shipped


via eBay seller opticalfactory.  Dual Scale, ATC.  This is billed as a higher quality unit vs their economy offering.

This seller is generally a good source for brewing refractometers.  If this specific unit is not available, check out this sellers current offerings - here - for a similar unit.


Amazon:
Single Scale, ATC

Dual Scale, ATC

Beer Wort and Wine Refractometer, Dual Scale – Specific Gravity and Brix, replaces homebrew hydrometer – $41.99 Shipped

Single Scale, ATC.  Manufactured by Vee Gee Scientific, this is a better built, higher quality unit.

Vee Gee Scientific BTX-1 Handheld Refractometer, with Brix Scale, 0-32%, +/-0.2% Accuracy, 0.2% Resolution, 10 to 30 degree C ATC – $93.84 Shipped
Digital Single Scale, ATC.  Manufactured by Hanna Instruments.

Hanna Instruments HI 96811 Digital Brix Refractometer for Professional Wine Analysis – $154.24 Shipped


More Beer:
More Beer offers a consistent source for homebrewing appropriate refractometers.  Purchasing from More Beer offers the benefit of technical support from a fellow homebrewer.  All options ship free with their generous free shipping promotion.  That allows you to add on other qualifying items that will also ship for free.

Dual scale, ATC.


Brewing Refractometer – Dual Scale MT700 - $59 Shipped

Single Scale, ATC.  Manufactured by Vee Gee Scientific, this is a better built, higher quality unit.  0-30 Brix scale.  This also offers a locking calibration ring.

Vee Gee Deluxe Refractometer w/ ATC MT706 – $115 Shipped

Digital Single Scale, ATC.  Manufactured by Hanna Instruments.


Hanna Digital Refractometer (HI 96811) MT712 – $195 Shipped

What else?

Add a comment and let us know about your experiences and other sources you’ve used.

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Ball Lock Keg Roundup – New and Used, 5 and 2.5 Gallon

Ball lock kegs are becoming more and more difficult to source.  Here’s a roundup of some of the best available sources for these kegs.


Adventures in Homebrewing: Refurbished 5 Gallon, Rubber Handles

Adventures in Homebrewing is one of the most reliable sources for used 5 gallon kegs.  Their price of $39.99 is also one of the best out there.

O-rings and poppets are check and replaced, if needed.  These are pressure tested and guaranteed to hold pressure.

Considering price and availability, these are my top pick for used 5 gallon ball lock kegs.  These are also a current Top Find!


5 Gallon Ball Lock Kegs - $39.99


More Beer: Refurbished 5 Gallon, Rubber Handles

Availability of these reconditioned ball lock kegs can be touch and go.  When they are available, this can be one of the most economical options as shipping is included in the price.

Washed inside and out and all gaskets are replaced.  Pressure tested and guaranteed to hold pressure.

Cornelius Keg – With Gaskets Replaced Ball Lock KEG420 - $59.95 Shipped


Adventures in Homebrewing: Pack of 4, Used 5 Gallon, Rubber Handles

Lot of 4 kegs used kegs for $130.  That’s $32.50 each.  The lids on these kegs are pin lock style, meaning they do not have a manual pressure relief valve.  The do have a safety pressure relief vale.  These are the same type of lids that pin lock keg users use every day.  If you need to relieve gas pressure, just depress the gas post.


Kegs are guaranteed to hold pressure.


4 Ball Lock Cornelius Kegs - $130


Adventures in Homebrewing: Brand New 5 Gallon, Metal Handles

These are currently marked down $40 to $89.99.  That’s a bargain for a brand new ball lock keg!


Considering price, these are my top pick for new 5 gallon ball lock kegs.  These are also a current Top Find!


NEW 5 Gallon Cornelius Keg (Ball Lock) - $89.99!


More Beer: Brand New 5 Gallon, Rubber Handles

Brand new, never used ball lock keg.  Considering that this is a brand new keg and that shipping is included, I think this is a great deal.

Cornelius Keg – Brand New (5 Gallon) KEG418 - $139 Shipped

Adventures in Homebrewing: Brand New 5 Gallon, Single Metal Handle

New 5 gallon keg with a single metal handle.  Manufactured by AEB in Italy.


Brand NEW 5 Gallon Cornelius Keg (Ball Lock) AEB Keg – $139.99


Adventures in Homebrewing: Brand New 2.5 Gallon, Metal Handles, Stackable

These 2.5 Gallon kegs are stackable with ball lock fittings on.  That means you can have two beers on tap using around the same footprint as a single 5 gallon keg.  Or, you could keep kegs rolling more quickly by kegging your 5 gallon batch in two of these.


New, 2.5 Gallon Stainless Ball Lock Keg.  304 Stainless, Height 13.5″, Diameter 9″.

These are currently marked down $40 to $79.  This is a great deal for a NEW 2.5 gallon ball lock keg!


2.5 Gallon Ball Lock Keg New - $79


More Beer: Brand New 2.5 Gallon, Rubber Handles



Corny Keg – NEW (2.5 gallon) KEG419 – $119 Shipped

More Beer: Brand New 2.5 Gallon, Single Metal Handle

Single Handle Corny Keg – 2.5 Gallon KEG 421 – $119.00

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