Category Archives: Homebrew Hacks

Build a Recirculating Draft Line Cleaning Pump!

recirculating draft line cleaner

The directions on most line cleaners call for recirculating the cleaner for some period of time.  Most affordable cleaning setups that are out there include a hand pump.  Operating one of those for 15 to 30 minutes, for each faucet, doesn’t sound fun.

To really clean your draft lines, you need to keep solution flowing for a length of time, not just fill and wait.  Initially I tried to clean my system by pushing line cleaner out of a keg.  This was a waste of CO2.  I also found it tough to keep solution running slowly enough to get the required amount of contact time.  It’s easy to quickly push a cleaning or sanitizing solution through your system under CO2 pressure, but I found it to be a pain to try to do so slowly.  This also requires quite a bit of cleaning solution versus a recirculating pump.

I decided to put together a recirculating draft line cleaning pump setup.

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Using a Keg as a CO2 Source for Portable Serving!

This technique uses an economical inline secondary regulator to utilize a spare keg as a CO2 source to serve a keg.  I’m not suggesting this setup as a replacement for your kegerator CO2 tank.  You still need a standard CO2 tank.  What this setup could be very useful for is as a replacement for those expensive little regulators or injectors and expensive (considering how much CO2 you get) little CO2 cartridges.  One inexpensive purchase allows you to pressurize and serve your keg on the go for little to… nothing.  Keep reading.

The Magic Piece of Equipment

Cheap Inline Regulator – via William’s Brewing | via MoreBeer | via Amazon

These inline secondary regulators have been on the scene for a little while now.  At the price I’ve seen them at, sub $10, they are a bargain.  They also add a lot of flexibility to your draft setup, allowing you to easily and cheaply serve using multiple pressures and carbonation levels.

Note that these are inline secondary regulators.  You still need a primary regulator attached to your CO2 tank.  The idea is, you set the primary to the highest pressure you will use (without exceeding specifications of any component of your system) and then use these regulators inline (one per line) to fine tune pressure and carbonation [See: Balancing Your Draft System].  As an example, you could set your primary to 25 PSI for faster force carbonation and set each line to a different pressure based on desired carbonation level.

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Using a Keg as a CO2 Source for Portable Serving!

This technique uses an economical inline secondary regulator to utilize a spare keg as a CO2 source to serve a keg.  I’m not suggesting this setup as a replacement for your kegerator CO2 tank.  You still need a standard CO2 tank.  What this setup could be very useful for is as a replacement for those expensive little regulators or injectors and expensive (considering how much CO2 you get) little CO2 cartridges.  One inexpensive purchase allows you to pressurize and serve your keg on the go for little to… nothing.  Keep reading.

The Magic Piece of Equipment

Cheap Inline Regulator – via William’s Brewing | via MoreBeer | via Amazon

These inline secondary regulators have been on the scene for a little while now.  At the price I’ve seen them at, sub $10, they are a bargain.  They also add a lot of flexibility to your draft setup, allowing you to easily and cheaply serve using multiple pressures and carbonation levels.

Note that these are inline secondary regulators.  You still need a primary regulator attached to your CO2 tank.  The idea is, you set the primary to the highest pressure you will use (without exceeding specifications of any component of your system) and then use these regulators inline (one per line) to fine tune pressure and carbonation [See: Balancing Your Draft System].  As an example, you could set your primary to 25 PSI for faster force carbonation and set each line to a different pressure based on desired carbonation level.

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Setting Economy Inline Regulators with a Spunding Valve

These inline secondary regulators have been on the scene for a little while now.  At the price I’ve seen them at, sub $10, they are a bargain.  They also add a lot of flexibility to your draft setup, allowing you to easily and cheaply vend using multiple pressures and carbonation levels.


Grab One!  via William’s Brewing | via MoreBeer


Note that these are inline secondary regulators.  You still need a primary regulator attached to your CO2 tank.  The idea is, you set the primary to the highest pressure you will use (without exceeding specifications of any component of your system) and then use these regulators inline (one per line) to fine tune pressure and carbonation [See: Balancing Your Draft System].  As an example, you could set your primary to 25 PSI for faster force carbonation and set each line to a different pressure based on desired carbonation level.

Since this does not have a gauge, you need some sort of a gauge to use for tuning in the pressure.  The gauge doesn’t have to stay connected, just while you’re setting the regulator.  This is a perfect application of a Spunding Valve [See: Build a Spunding Valve! – How and Why]

Thanks to Facebook Friend Rob [8 Ways to Connect with HBF] for his process for setting the Inline Secondary using a Spunding Valve and for the photo walk through!

Here’s Rob Spunding Setup.  It’s a Style 3 [See: Build a Spunding Valve! – How and Why] that features a barb, tubing and a valved QD from MoreBeerThis is the assembly hooked up to the low pressure side of his CO2 regulator.  Rob starts with the Spunding Valve set to it’s highest pressure to prevent CO2 from venting.

With everything hooked up, you have two options:

  1. Start with the inline regulator fully closed and very slowly work your way up until the Spunding Valve gauge shows reads your desired pressure.
  2. Start with the inline regulator wide open and slowly work your way down, venting the Spunding Valve as needed until you work your way back down to your desired pressure.

This is a photo of the inline regulator set to about 10 PSI, you can see the primary’s low pressure gauge is set to a higher pressure, 20 PSI.

This technique has some great benefits.  First, many homebrewers already have a Spunding Valve.  This process requires little to no extra gear for Spunding Valve owners.  Second, this process should use very little CO2. I’ve been adjusting this using a keg.  I’ve used an entire empty 2.5 gallon ball lock and also the head space of a keg.  Either way, that amounts to more CO2 compared with Rob’s procedure.

Grab The Gear:

Related Posts:

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

Our Top Draft Resources

 

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Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions.

hack:setinlinereg

Convert Ball Lock and Pin Lock Kegs to Push to Connect

Push to Connect style fittings are used in plumbing, to install water filter systems. to install drink dispensers and more.  Some fittings are for liquids only and some are suitable for use in gas applications.

For whatever reason, I generally find it difficult to find the push to connect style fitting I’m looking for.  Getting the exact fitting, that actually works has been elusive to me.  There are a good number of manufacturers, the products have different applications and there are just lot of models available.

This post is about a fitting that can convert your ball or pin lock 1/4″ MFL QD to 1/4″ push to connect.

This fitting is a John Guest Female Flare to 1/4″ Tube model # MI4508F4SLFThis installs on MFL ball or pin lock QDs.  Here it is installed on my ball lock gas QD.  You could just as easily install this on a 1/4″ MFL pin lock QD.Here’s the fitting on an inline secondary regulator – via William’s Brewing | via MoreBeer – that uses 1/4″ push to connect style fittings.Here’s a setup using this fitting

If you’re interested in technical specifications – here is the product page via John Guest.  Note that that page covers all size of this fitting, not just the 1/4″ to 1/4″ variant

If you’re looking for this fitting, use the searches below and look for this exact model number and make sure the description reads 1/4″ female flare x 1/4″ tube

Also: What’s the Difference Between Ball Lock Kegs and Pin Lock Kegs?

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Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions.

hack:flaretopush2connect

Adding a Schrader Valve to a Homebrew Keg

Why would you want to add a Schrader style valve to your ball lock or pin lock keg homebrew keg?  Great question.  I’m not sure.  I was interested in doing it as part of a post I’m doing for our Homebrew Hacks series of how-tos.  More on that later.

This was really just a matter of putting the right fittings together.  Pictured: Milton (S-684-4) 1/4″ MNPT Male Tank Valve – Anderson Metals Brass Pipe Fitting, Coupling, 1/4″ x 1/4″ Female Pipe – LASCO 17-6783 1/4-Inch Female Flare by 1/4-Inch Male Pipe Thread Brass Adapter

A quick check to make sure all of this fit together

Everything tightened down with teflon tape

This assembly is a tank/Schrader style valve to a 1/4″ x 1/4″ female to female coupling to a 1/4″ NPT to 1/4″ flare fitting.  All that to say, I have this threaded onto a ball lock QD here, but it could just as easily thread into an MFL pin lock QD.

Installed and pressurized.  This may give you a hint as to what the the related post will be about, but… maybe not.

The parts and pieces I used, all via Amazon:

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Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions.

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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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Mark II Keg and Carboy Washer Mod – Adding a Stainless Steel CIP Spray Ball

cln_img_2973

I’m a big fan of the Mark II Keg and Carboy Washer.  I use mine for lots of things including… kegs, carboys, Speidel Fermenters, buckets, tubing, draft lines [See: Mark II Keg & Carboy Cleaner… As a Recirculating Draft Line Cleaning Pump] and more.  [See: Hands on Review: Mark’s Keg and Carboy Washer] for a comprehensive look at this great homebrewing tool.

A while back I became aware of this Stainless CIP Spray Ball via a Reader Tip.  Thanks to HBF Reader Sam for the original heads up on these and HBF Reader Chris for the idea to use in conjunction with the Mark II Keg and Carboy Cleaner ! [8 Ways to Connect with HBF].

CIP (Clean in Place) Spray Balls are generally used for vessels that are too large to move.  Since they’re too large to move you… clean them in place.  If you have a larger setup, you could incorporate these into your system or routine to help clean your vessels more easily.

Seller QM Stainless on Amazon offers a variety of spray balls including stationary and rotary.

I gave this a try on my Keg and Carboy Washer and I was really pleased with the results.

cln_img_2959This is a heavy well made CIP spray ball assemblycln_img_2962A look at the lower portion  It reads 1/2″ and SS304cln_img_2965A look at the openings on the spray head.  Note that the top portion rotates using liquid pressure.cln_img_2967This threads nicely onto the top of the PVC tube on the Mark II Keg and Carboy Washer.  Replacing the end cap that contains one spray hole.  In the background, My ITC-308 Temp Controller.cln_img_2969This fitting makes the total height a little higher compared to the standard tip.  Note that, depending on the size opening of your carboy, this may not fit.  Look back for an update to this post that has more dimension information so you can determine if this will work with vessel’s with smaller openings.  Here’s MoreBeer’s 6 gallon PET Carboy on the cleaner.  You can see there’s still plenty of clearance.

cln_img_2973A picture of the spray ball in action

A video of the spray action

NEW 0.5 Inch Stainless Rotary Spray Ball Female CIP Tank Cleaning Ball by QM Stainless

Mark’s Keg & Carboy Washer can be found at…

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Using the Grainfather to Clean Draft Lines

Thanks to Twitter Follower Andy for this tip!  [Connect with HBF on Twitter]

The Grainfather

The Grainfather is an electric all grain brewing system.  Mash temperature is precisely controlled with an electric heating element.  A pump recirculates throughout the mashing process ensuring even temperatures.  At the end of the mash, The Grainfather becomes your electric brew kettle.  The Grainfather includes a counterflow chiller.  8 Gallon system for indoor or outdoor brewing.

The Grainfather + 5% back via AIH’s Rewards Program via Adventures in Homebrewing

Andy has converted this for use as a draft line cleaning pump using a few fittings from Brew Hardware including…

Check out Andy’s Youtube video detailing the project

Also Consider…

Third Party Resource: This resource is part of our selection of top Third Party homebrewing resources.  Check out the entire list of resources Third Party Homebrew Resources

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Convert Your Mark II Keg & Carboy Washer to a Recirculating Draft Line Cleaning Pump!

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The Mark II Keg and Carboy Washer [Review] can clean a lot of your homebrewing gear.  Kegs, Carboys, Speidel Fermenters, Tubing, Small Parts & Pieces, Buckets, Keggles and more.

A small hardware purchase can convert your Keg and Carboy Washer over to an efficient ball lock draft line cleaning pump.

Cue drumroll.  And… It’s this thing…

Free shipping Stainless steel Carbonation Cap w/ 5/16" Barb, Ball Lock Type, fit soft drink PET bottles, Homebrew Kegging
Stainless steel Carbonation Cap w/ 5/16″ Barb, Ball Lock Type, fit soft drink PET bottles, Homebrew Kegging

This is a stainless steel ball lock carbonator cap that is typically intended to use with 1L and 2L PET (soda type) bottles for force carbing and transporting beer (soda, etc).  Why does it include a barb?  I have no idea, but it comes in really handy for this purpose.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I have heard that this fitting no longer works with BOTH liquid and gas ball lock QDs.  That is an important feature for this project.

Consider these alternatives (As of this update, both claim to work with both gas and liquid posts, check description for up to the minute details)..

cln_img_9641A photo of just the carbonator capcln_img_9644A carbonator cap would typically work with a gas QD and this does.cln_img_9642However, it also works (easily) with a liquid QD.  Not sure why it’s designed like this, but it is and this is another important feature.cln_img_9646To adapt the Keg and Carboy Cleaner for Ball Lock draft lines just attach the stainless carbonator cap to a length of 1/4″ ID tubing (the shorter the better).  Attach the unused end to the smaller of the two included barbs (intended for cleaning tubing) and whammo… you’ve got a line cleaner.  I didn’t use any clamps.  Things held together fine and disassemble for easy cleaning.

cln_img_9654I use a piece of 1/2″ ID silicone tubing over my faucets to return cleaning, rinsing and sanitizing solution back to the Keg and Carboy Cleaner’s basin.  Recirculating means you can run this for a long time (according to your cleaner’s recommendations).  You may also save money by using less cleaner and sanitizer.

This has the advantage of cleaning everything in your draft system.  It cleans the faucet, the shank, the quick disconnect and the tubing.  Some line cleaning pump designs I’ve seen have you removing the beer nut and placing the hand pump apparatus directly on the shank.  That’s some work disassembling and reassembling and it also skips the line and quick disconnect.

cln_img_9657Here is a photo that should hopefully give you an idea about flow rate.  If you look at my original Draft Line Cleaning Pump Build, you’ll see that I don’t believe you need a gushing fire hose-like flow rate.  The important thing, in my book, is touching all parts and constant flow.  Along those lines, if you’re looking for your draft cleaning pump to resemble a pressure washer, I’d suggest looking for something different.  I spent no time on trying to increase flow for this build.  It’s going to depend on your line length and where you place the Keg and Carboy Washer in relation to the top of your shank.

cln_img_9660A look at the 1/2″ ID tubing over my Perlick faucetcln_img_9666The Keg and Carboy Washer can be a bit unwieldy to pick up when full.  You can drain a good bit of liquid off by redirecting the discharge tubing to a bucket.

cln_img_9649I have added this switch to my Keg and Carboy Washer setup.  It allows me to easily turn the pump on and off without plugging and unplugging it.  This switch appears to be similar although not the exact same part number… [GE 52149 Handy Switch Grounded White].  You may want to add a GFCI Adapter and for safety, always read and follow manufacturer’s warnings.

1312Alternative for Pin Lock, Sankey and Ball Lock Systems.  I know of no similar Pin Lock style carbonator cap.  You get nearly the same benefit by replacing that with a 1/4″ Male Flare to 1/4″ Barb Fitting.  Remove your MFL Pin Lock QDs and attach to this fitting.  The only thing you’re missing is including the Pin Lock QDs in the cleaning process.  This would also work for Sankey and ball lock setups, you just need to have 1/4″ MFL lines.

Prior to getting a Keg and Carboy Washer myself, I consistently heard great things about it.  I can confirm the praise.  This is a great piece of equipment that saves me time.  The additional ability to clean lines with little additional expense sweetens the deal further.  The Mark II Keg and Carboy Washer is one of our Top Finds.

Mark’s Keg & Carboy Washer can be found at…

Carbonator Cap:

Read the current description of these to make sure they are designed to work with both gas and liquid posts.

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