Category Archives: HBF Tested

Ends Soon: StirStarter Stir Plate – $42 Shipped

I’ve used the StirStarter Stir Plate for years.  I ordered mine back in June of… 2009.  It’s worked very well for me.  The constant motion of a stir plate integrates oxygen, puts yeast in constant contact with nutrients, relieves built up CO2 and generally helps yeast to grow more rapidly.  That also means smaller starters.

Nikobrew has these in stock for $42 and they ship for free.  That’s the best delivered price that I’m know of.  I got word from Niko that a price increase is imminent his costs have increased on these and that will soon be reflected in the purchase price.

“Stir Starter” Stir Plate - $42 + Free Shipping

Related:

American Educational Borosilicate Glass (Bomex) 2,000mL Erlenmeyer Flask - $14.25 + Free Shipping with Prime or Qualifying $35 order

Also Consider:

Pinned: StirStarter *CO2 Manifold *Ball Lock Kegs *Hands On: Captain Crush Grain Mill

Free ThermoWorks TimeStick with $99 Purchase

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ThermoWorks has a “Flash Sale” going on.  They are giving away a free TimeStick Timer with every purchase of $99 or more.  That’s a $19 value.

Now is a great time to get a Thermapen (Review).  A Thermapen along with a set of replacement batteries (on the accessories page) comes out to a $100 order and qualifies you for this free timer.

Pinned: StirStarter *CO2 Manifold *Ball Lock Kegs *Hands On: Captain Crush Grain Mill

More from ThermoWorks:

Great Deal: CDN DTQ450X Thermometer – $12.99 + Review

The Top Find CDN DTQ450X typically sells for around $17 to $18.  This offering has dropped down to $12.99.  It ships free with Prime or with a qualifying $35 order.

Check out my hands on review of the DTQ450X.  That includes accuracy and response time trials.

Cdn Pro Acc Quick Read Thermometer –  $12.99 + Free Shipping with $35 order

Pinned: StirStarter *BoilerMakers *Ball Lock Kegs *Hands On: Captain Crush Grain Mill

More from Amazon:

Hands On: Captain Crush, Adjustable Three Roller Grain Mill – Including Mash Tests

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Here is a Hands on Review of Northern Brewer’s Captain Crush, 3 Roller Grain Mill.  It includes thoughts about the mill, photos of the mill in action and a crush/mash trial.

The Captain Crush Grain Mill


The box.  It’s large.


Not only is it large, it’s heavy.  My Ultraship 55 (usually my grain scale - Review) shows a whopping 21 lbs 7 ounces.


Over half of that weight is the roller mill assembly itself.


Top of the mill

 
Bottom of the mill


Base.  The circular pieces in the middle are designed to fit nicely on a bucket.


Assembled.  This mill is huge and it looks cool.


Profile view

 
One of the nice things about the Captain Crush are the easy adjustment knobs.  You can change settings quickly and without tools.  The current setting is NB’s recommended “optimal setting”.  Also notice the drill connection shaft toward the top left of the mill body.

 
Installed on a bucket.

 
The base fits perfectly inside this 5 gallon bucket.

 
Front view

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For size comparison side by side vs my Barley Crusher Grain Mill

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Profile view compared with the Barley Crusher.  As you can see the Captain Crush Mill is considerably larger.

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Top down view vs Barley Crusher

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The official size of Captain Crush’s Hopper is 11 lbs.  I’ve found that it can hold at least that much.  This picture shows the vast majority of the malt bill for 1 Hour IPA – continuously hopped IPA.  The malt bill for that is 13 lbs.  The hopper is holding just under 12 lbs… 11 lbs 14 oz.

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Front View

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A picture of the crush

Mash Trials:
These are side by side mash tests using the Captain Crush Mill on “optimal” setting vs store crushed grain.  The Rahr 2 Row both milled and unmilled were sourced at a reputable local homebrew shop.  Note that it did not come from Northern Brewer.  To produce as consistent results as possible, I measured everything (water and grain) in grams to the nearest single gram.

Procedure:

  1. Weigh 906 grams (1.997 lbs) of grain
  2. Weigh 2,715 grams of strike water (.717 gallons)
  3. Heat up strike water to 162 deg F.  Overheat by a degree or so and then stir back down to temperature.  It’s easier to hit a stable temp going down vs hitting it going up.
  4. While strike water is heating pre-heat mash tun with 1/2 gallon of 212 deg F water.
  5. Place grain (inside of bag) in cooler.
  6. Add strike water.
  7. Stir and record temperature.
  8. Mash for 60 minutes.
  9. Drain first runnings.
  10. Grain back in mash tun.
  11. Add 1,884 grams (.497 gallons) of 212 deg F water to the grain and stir.  I normally would not sparge with boiling water.  I used boiling water to take one more variable out of the equation.
  12. Drain second runnings.  Let grain bag sit on strainer for 5 minutes.
  13. Record volume and gravity.

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Each test used 906 grams (1.997 lbs) of grain

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Each Test used 2,715 grams of strike water (.717 gallons).  For some reason I didn’t use the tare feature when I weighed the water.  The pitcher ways 547 grams.  That makes the water 2,715 grams.

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This 2 Gallon Rubbermaid Cooler Served as a Mash Tun.  I used a paint straining bag to contain the grain.  This process worked pretty well.  This would be good equipment and technique to use for small batch all grain brews.  For consistency, I pre-heated the cooler prior to placing grain and strike water into it.

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A 5 gallon paint straining bag contained the grain.

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My Thermapen reading mash temperature.  The temperatures of each trial mash were close but not identical.  One read 151.5 deg F, the other read 152 deg F.  I consider that to be within the limits of what I can test and produce in my kitchen.

Results Store Milled:

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Store Milled Grain

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Collected Wort.  With the help of an on-screen ruler, I’m going to estimate this at .859 gallons collected.  That means that .355 gallons were absorbed.  Making the absorption rate for this grain and crush .177 gallons/lb.

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My Atago Pal-1 Digital Refractometer reads 10 Brix.  That’s on OG of 1.040.  Rahr 2 Row should provide 37 points per lb.  That means there are a total of 74 points in the two lbs of grain I used.  .859 gallons of 1.040 wort comes out to a total of 34.375 points or an efficiency of 46.4%.  That’s low.  Although, the point of this particular experiment is to compare two grinds, not to measure the efficiency of one technique vs another.

Results Captain Crush Milled:

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Milled Grain

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Collected Wort.  I’m going to estimate this at .875 gallons collected.  That means that .339 gallons were absorbed.  Making the absorption rate for this grain and crush .170 gallons/lb.

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My Atago Pal-1 Digital Refractometer reads 13.2 Brix.  That’s on OG of 1.053.  Rahr 2 Row should provide 37 points per lb.  That means there are a total of 74 points in the two lbs of grain I used.  .875 gallons of 1.053 wort comes out to a total of 46.375 points or an efficiency of 62.6%.  Again, the point of this particular experiment is to compare two grinds, not to measure the effectiveness of a particular set of equipment or technique.


Store Milled Grain (left) vs Captain Crush Mill using “optimal” setting (right). Click to zoom.

Mash Test Conclusion:

  1. The store Milled Grain I used produced an efficiency of 46.4% vs an efficiency of 62.6% when using the “optimal” setting on the Captain Crush.  That’s a comparative improvement of 34.9%.
  2. The Captain Crush’s “optimal setting” produces a great crush.
  3. Grain crush is a big part of efficiency.  Store crushed grain can be on the under crushed side.  Some stores do this to help prevent stuck sparges.  That’s a valid strategy and it may be way you want.
  4. If you are looking for more control over your mash milling your own grain provides you with quite a bit more control.  It also allows you to buy grain in bulk and crush right before brewing.  That preserves freshness and leads to better tasting beer.

The Captain Crush is a solid grain mill.  It has a good capacity, produces a great crush on the optimal setting and can easily be adjusted.

Check it out - Captain Crush Grain Mill

Also note that the full product manual is available on the “Additional Info” tab of the product page.

Also Consider:

801121-2Great Prices on Bags of Malt

 

7.9 Gallon Speidel Fermenter – $49.99 Shipped

The very popular 7.9 Gallon Speidel Fermenter is More Beer’s Deal of the Day.
I own both 5.3 and 7.9 gallon Speidels.  I’ve used the 5.3 gallon for small batches for quite a while now.  These are great fermenters.  Check out my First Looks Post for more information and quite a few pictures.  Check out the whole line including replacement parts.

Product Description - Here.  Use coupon code BEERDEAL to get this discount.

Speidel Plastic Fermenter – 30L (7.9 gal) FE715 - $49.99 + Free Shipping

Availability: This is a More Beer Deal of the Day.  Quantities are limited. Check the Deal of the Day section Here - to see if this is still available.

Reader Tip: Free Big Mouth Bubbler Large Mouth Fermenter with $125 Purchase

Thanks to HBF Reader Brandt for this tip!  Connect with HBF – Here


Spend $125 at Northern Brewer and Get a Free 5 or 6.5 Big Mouth Bubbler Large Mouth PET Fermenter.  I have the 6.5 Gallon Size of this.  Check out my First Looks Post.

Check it out – Here

Bundles With$7.99 Flat Rate Shipping

PinnedStirStarter *15% Drink Tanks *Used Ball Lock Kegs *Dual Scale Refractometer


Recent Finds:

Stainless, Vacuum Insulated 64+ OZ Growler… $22.31 + Hands On Review

This highly rated 64+ OZ Stainless, Double Wall, Vacuum Insulated Growler has dropped to $22.31.  That’s the lowest price we’ve featured this at (by 85 cents) and just 14 cents off the Amazon record.  These ship free with Prime or with a qualifying $35 order.  For comparison, the black version of this is selling for 23% more at $29.06.  This is a bargain.

I have this growler and it’s amazing.  Check out my Hands on Review for more information.

Lifeline 7508 Silver Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Double Wall Barrel Style Growler – 64 oz. Capacity - $22.31+ Free Shipping with Prime or Qualifying $35 order Filler Items


PinnedStirStarter *15% Drink Tanks *Used Ball Lock Kegs *Dual Scale Refractometer


More from Amazon:


    More Recent Finds, AmazonAmazon Free Ship Add-OnsDraftPortable ServingGrowlersBottlingReviewsAmazon ReviewsHBF TestedGreat Deals

    Spiegelau IPA Glasses, 6 Pack – $39.95 Shipped ($6.66/glass)


    These highly rated IPA glasses from Spiegelau normally sell for around $10 each.  This set of 6 glasses is down to $39.95.  That makes each glass $6.66.  Prior to this, the lowest price we’ve ever seen on these was $48.95 for 6 ($8.16 per glass).  They ship for free

    Spiegelau Beer Classics IPA Glass, Set of 6 – $39.95 + Free Shipping


    Need an IPA to put in these glasses?  Consider Great Fermentations 1 Hour IPA (All Grain and Extract).  I’m brewing this beer this weekend.

    PinnedStirStarter *15% Drink Tanks *Used Ball Lock Kegs *Dual Scale Refractometer


    More from Amazon:


    MoreRecent FindsAmazonAmazon FillersIPAGlasswareGreat Deals

    15.5 Gallon Keggle, Welded Port – $99.99


    This 15.5 Gallon Stainless Kettle with 1 welded 1/2″ NPT Port is on sale for $99.99.  I have this exact keggle from AIH and it works great.  I purchased mine back in April of 2011.  At that time, there was a limited sale (50 keggles) at $99.  The current sale of $99.99 comes within 99 cents of matching the 2011 limited quantity price.

    Used 15.5 1-weld Keggle - $99.99

    PinnedStirStarter *15% Drink Tanks *Used Ball Lock Kegs *Dual Scale Refractometer


    StirStarter Stir Plate – $42 Shipped – Limited Time


    I’ve used the StirStarter Stir Plate for years.  I ordered mine back in June of… 2009.  It’s worked very well for me.  The constant motion of a stir plate integrates oxygen, puts yeast in constant contact with nutrients, relieves built up CO2 and generally helps yeast to grow more rapidly.  That also means smaller starters.


    Nikobrew has these in stock for $42 and they ship for free.  That’s the best delivered price that I’m know of.  I got word from Niko that a price increase is imminent his costs have increased on these and that will soon be reflected in the purchase price.


    “Stir Starter” Stir Plate - $42 + Free Shipping


    Related:


    Also Consider:


    Pinned15% Off Personal Keg BoilerMaker Kettles *Patagonia IPA *Dual Scale Refractometer

    Recent Finds:


    MoreRecent FindsYeastYeast StartersStir PlatesErlenmeyer FlasksFermentationHBF TestedGreat Deals