Category Archives: Tips

Homebrew Hack: Mimicking Dual Stage Temp Control with a Single Stage Controller

Inkbird IPB-16 15A Digital Pre-Wired PID Temperature Controller Thermostat with PT100 Probe, One SSR Output, One Relay Alarm Output, AC100V -240V

Pictured: Inkbird IPB-16 15A Digital Pre-Wired PID Temperature Controller

Overriding temperature controllers give you more control over heating and cooling devices.  They work by power cycling the device based on temperatures read.  This is extremely valuable for homebrewers for both homebrew kegerators and for controlling fermentation temperatures.  This technology allows you to operate a chest freezer at refrigerator-type temperatures.  This is even helpful if you’re using a refrigerator, because stock refrigerator thermostats generally do not have the precise controls we’re looking for as homebrewers.

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Star San Tips, Tricks and Guidelines – Using Star San In a Spray Bottle

Star San

Star San is my sanitizer of choice.  When mixed properly, it’s food safe and no rinse.  Required contact time is one minute.  It has worked very well for me for quite some time and I’m convinced that it’s one of the most economical solutions available if you use the spray bottle method outlined here.  I’ve used a single 32 oz bottle for years.  Like 5+ years.

Cleaning, Sanitizing and… Sterilizing
The first step in sanitizing is cleaning.  Cleaning and sanitizing are two separate steps.  Cleaning physically removes dirt and large contaminants.  After your item is physically clean it can be microscopically sanitized.  Sanitization kills many (but not all) germs, bacteria and microorganisms on an already clean surface.  I typically use a mixture of PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) for cleaning.  Sanitizing and Sterilizing are different.  Sterilizing is killing every living thing.  In home brewing typically, we’re not interested in sterilizing, we’re only interested in sanitizing.

The Spray Bottle Method
The key benefit of this method is using what you need.  That fact of the matter is… there’s no need to submerge your equipment in gallons and gallons of this stuff.  The open space in the middle of your carboy does not need to be sanitized.  Just the surfaces do.

Fill up a spray bottle with properly diluted Star San solution and you’re good to go.  Liberally coat all surfaces and parts in need of sanitizing.  If you have a larger job, like a keg or a carboy, use what you need to sanitize (already clean items) and pour the Star San mixture back in the gallon jug for re-use.  That’s it.  Spray liberally, let stand and drain any excess.

1 Gallon of Star San – How much Star San do I use for 1 Gallon?
I mix up one gallon of Star San at a time.  Just add 6 CCs of Star San to one gallon of distilled or soft water.  How did I come up with 6 CC/ml?  Dosing rate for Star San is 1 ounce per 5 gallons.  That’s .2 ounces for 1 gallon.  .2 ounces = 5.91 ml.  I round that up to 6 CC/ml.

I use a glass gallon jug for storage.  It takes a while but Star San will eat through thin plastic gallon jugs.  I’ve had it happen and it’s not cool.

Measuring 6 CCs/mLs
I use a syringe to measure the 6 CCs needed.  I’ve used a couple different models over the years.  Some with luer locks and some without.  If you get some with luer lock connections, there’s no need to put anything on the luer lock.

Some syringes…

How long is Star San good for?
Star San (diluted sanitizing solution) needs to remain under pH 3 AND be crystal clear.  If your solution of Star San gets cloudy, according to Five Star, it may not be effective.  Hard water will make the solution go cloudy quickly.  If this is happening to you, use distilled water.

Some will say that the clear part is not important.  Here’s the information I’ve gotten from Five Star Chemicals on that:  “The cloudy solution could be okay, but it could be bad. The cloudiness is the surfactant coming out of solution. It has reacted, or is reacting with the metals in the water. I don’t know if it is still good, because I don’t know how much surfactant has reacted. I error on the side of caution and suggest that you don’t even mess with it. Use DI water.

So, as long as it’s clear and the pH is below 3 it’s effective.  Related: Testing Star San Effectiveness

Testing pH41s3XP8RicL._SX385_
Test your Star San solution to make sure it’s under a pH of 3.  If you source pH test papers for this, make sure they read in that range.  I recommend the Micro Essential Labs strips linked below.  They are also featured in my post on Star San Effectiveness.

pH Strips and Meters…

Spray Bottle
As mentioned previously, Star San can dissolve plastic over time.  The ACC130 is a professional quality, chemical resistant bottle and sprayer.  Check out my [Hands on Review]

Some spray bottles…

An important part of sanitizing effectively is starting with something that’s already clean.  I use PBW also from Five Star Chemicals.

Unlike Star San, I go through a lot of PBW.  Under the premise of, buy things in bulk that you use in bulk, I suggest buying the largest size of PBW that makes sense for your budget.

Star San

1 Gallon Glass Jug for Star San Storage

Be Careful
Star San is an acid.  You should be careful with Star San, especially in its undiluted form.  It can cause damage to clothing [See: Lesson Learned, Don’t Do This with Star San], countertops, aluminum items and more.  Always read and follow manufacturer’s directions.

What is Star San?
Star San is a self-foaming acid sanitizer ideal for brewing, dairy and other food and beverage equipment. It is an extremely effective bactericide and fungicide and is not affected by excessive organic soils. Star San also reduces water spotting and can be used without rinsing under the proper concentrations. STAR SAN is a blend of phosphoric acid and dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid. This synergistic blend provides a unique killing system that is unaffected by excessive organic soils. STAR SAN is also a self-foaming sanitizer. It can be applied through a foamed to produce self-adhering sanitizing foam for external sanitation. STAR SAN is also an excellent sanitizer for hand application. Sanitizing with STAR SAN on a daily basis will leave equipment in an acid condition that will eliminate water spotting.

Star San Material Safety Data Sheet
StarSanMSDS1 – MSDS Dated 6-6-12

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Reader Photo & Tip: Feeding Glass Rinser w/Carbonated Star San

Drip tray glass rinser assembly via Adventures in Homebrewing.  Stainless construction.  Rinsing the glass chills it and helps your beer pour better.  Compare at Micromatic – similar, although I’m not sure it’s identical.

As of this posting, this is selling for $79.99.  That’s a great deal.  Check AIH for up to the minute price and availability.

Stacks With: Promo code BREW3 takes 3% off sitewide with some exclusions.  That makes this just $77.59.

Stacks With: AIH’s Free Shipping Sale.  Add on one of these beer kits (or any other qualifying item) and you’ll get free shipping to most US addresses.

Tip from HBF Reader [8 Ways to Connect with HBF] Timur:

“I just added the AIH Drip Tray Glass Rinser to my jockey box cover and fed carbonated starsan through it at a beer festival and it was a smashing success…

I included a picture of it before we went out to the festival. I just wish I had gotten that price”

This is an ingenious idea.  It addresses the basic problem of installing this, getting water to it.  Thanks Timur!

Glass Rinser Assembly for Drip Tray

Also: Kegerator Tips & Gear | Keg Repair Part #s | 5 Recent Keg Finds

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AC Infinity Cooling Fan – $16.99 + Reducing Kegerator Foam with a Recirculating Fan

AC Infinity AXIAL 8038, Muffin Cooling Fan, 115V AC 80mm by 80mm by 38mm Low Speed

AC Wired Cooling Fan by AC Infinity

  • Designed for custom projects that requires or as a replacement fan in various machinery.
  • Includes a heavy-duty aluminum fan with power plug cord, two fan guards, and mounting screw set.
  • Dual-ball bearings have a lifespan of 67,000 hours and allows the fans to be laid flat or stand upright.
  • Low Speed: Has a lower noise and airflow rating than high speed models.
  • Dimensions: 80 x 80 x 38 mm | Airflow: 23 CFM | Noise: 28 dBA | Bearings: Dual Ball

I have this fan and use it in kegerator as a recirculation fan.  See: Kegerator Beer Line Temperatures & Reducing Foam with a Recirculating Fan

9/11/17 6 AM Central: This is selling for $16.99. Shipping to most US addresses is also free with Prime Membership [Try Prime for Free] or a qualifying order. Price, shipping and availability can change quickly.  Check the product page for up to the minute price and availability.  See Recent Amazon Finds and our Amazon Fillers Resource Page to help you put together an order that qualifies for free shipping.

AC Infinity AXIAL 8038, Muffin Cooling Fan, 115V AC 80mm by 80mm by 38mm Low Speed

AlsoKegerator Tips & Gear | Keg Repair Part #s | 5 Recent Keg Finds | What’s the Difference Between Ball Lock Kegs and Pin Lock Kegs? | Kegerator Beer Line Temperatures & Reducing Foam with a Recirculating Fan

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Short On Time? Time Saving Homebrew Tips!

img_img_0908Pictured: Anvil Kettle from my Hands on Review – I use this kettle for small batches

Time can be a big factor when it comes to homebrewing.  Sure, it may be nice to spend sunrise until sunset carefully hand crafting a batch (or batches) of beer, but the practicalities of life can and do factor in when we’re deciding if we can brew a batch of beer.  For your stage of life, time may not be a factor.  If so, that’s awesome.  For others, time saving tips and techniques could help you brew more often.

With those thoughts in mind, I put the call out to the HBF community [8 Ways to Connect with HBF] to get some time saving tips and tricks.  A selection  of those along with some of my own thoughts follows.  Thanks to all who participated!  A full list of contributors is at the end of this post.

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Cask Widge Floats for Fermenting and Serving Using Corny Kegs? – You Can Help

I periodically ferment in 10 gallon Cornelius style kegs.  For the most part this works great.  They are stainless vessels that aren’t prone to breakage and are pressure capable.  The biggest headache is transferring fermented beer.  I do this under CO2 pressure and transfer from “liquid out” to “liquid in” on the receiving keg.  It usually works ok, but problems arise when there is a lot of trub or if I dry hop a lot.  To combat this, I used to have three dip tubes of different lengths.  I tried to guess which one was the right length based on the beer.  It was always a guessing game that I never exactly won.  I either leave good beer behind, transfer yeast and trub or worse get clog during transfer.  Worst case scenario is multiple clogs as I I’ve experienced with heavily dry hopped beers.

I shared this in some of the forums and got some good feedback and ideas.  One post pointed to part of the Cask Widge system as a possible solution.  This system, used for serving cask beers, contains a float.  It floats on the end of a very flexible piece of tubing and has a screem on the intake part of the float.  Beer is transferred out through the float.

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GE Handy Switch – for Keg, Carboy and Draft Line Cleaner Pumps


GE 25511 Grounded Power Switch.  Grounded and polarized.  I use a similar switch for switching on and off my Mark II Keg and Carboy Cleaner and Recirculating Draft Line Cleaning Pump.  You could also use it to control your March Pump on brew day.  Always read and follow manufacturer’s directions.  I recommend using a GFCI Outlet when dealing with pumps and water.

Update: Since this post was published the price, availability or promotion has changed.  Check the product page for up to the minute description, price and availability.  Also: Today’s Deals on Amazon

GE 25511 Handy Grounded Power Switch White, New Version of GE 52149

AlsoBuild A Recirculating Draft Line Cleaning Pump | Mark II Keg and Carboy Cleaner Draft Line Cleaning Pump Conversion | Review: Mark II Keg and Carboy Washer | MLCS 9089 Billy Pedal Foot Switch, 2 Step ON/OFF(Continuous Running)

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