Category Archives: Review Updates

Hands On: Cereal Killer 2 Roller Adjustable Grain Mill!

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The Cereal Killer Grain Mill from Adventures in Homebrewing gets consistently great feedback and is one of our Top Finds.

This homebrew mill is a two roller adjustable grain mill that features a 7 lb capacity hopper and a wood base.  The current version of the Cereal Killer sports a ball bearing design for the rollers, marked settings for the adjustable rollers and a new improved handle.

  • Includes a handle, but you can also easily use a drill.
  • Hardened steel roller size is 5″ long and 1.25″ diameter
  • The crank shaft has a 10mm diameter
  • It is suggested to run @ 300 RPM if motorized
  • Body is anodized aluminum for a lifetime worth of use
  • Two adjustable rollers
  • Rollers will adjust up to .100″
  • Rollers have a ball bearing design
  • Marked adjustable roller for easy adjustment
  • 7 lb capacity hopper
  • Wood base designed to fit snugly on the top of a 5 or 6 gallon bucket
  • 1 Year warranty from Adventures in Homebrewing

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Hands On: Stanley Classic Vacuum Insulated Growler! – Includes Temperature Trials

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Stanley’s Stainless Steel vacuum insulated growler features vacuum insulated body and foam insulated lid to keep beer cold for 16 hours.  Made of 18/8 stainless steel and BPA free.  The heavy duty handle makes it easy to carry and allows you to pour smoothly with one hand.  Steel inner lid means no plastic is in contact with your beer.

It’s available in Hammertone Green and Hammertone Navy in 64 ounce/2 Quart/Half Gallon capacity as well as in a smaller 32 oz size.  It’s also part of a Gift Pack Set that includes the growler along with stacking pints.  Stanley makes a non-insulated version version as well.  The 64 ounce variant is mentioned in this review, although it comes in 32 ounce as well.

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Hands On: Blichmann G2 BoilerMaker Kettle

Review of Blichmann Engineering G2 BoilerMaker Kettle

The recently announced G2 Kettle is available in 7.510152030 and 55 gallon sizes.  The BoilerMaker G2 is designed and manufactured in the US.  It includes a Sight Glass w/Laser Etched Volume Markers, Adjustable Angle BrewMometer Thermometer, Linear Flow Valve and tool-less dip tube.  The G2 also features a 1.2 height to diameter ratio.

Here’s a hands on look at the Blichmann G2 BoilerMaker kettle.

cln_img_4415Here’s the box

cln_img_4420In case at any point you thought to yourself “I should probably drop this box”, there is a handy sticker that reminds you not to.

cln_img_4441A look at the kettle straight out of the box.  The new “Linear Flow Valve” comes installed, the Brewmometer Thermometer is not installed upon delivery.

cln_img_4465Here is the Blichmann Engineering name plate and BoilerMaker G2 name plate.  They’ve really stepped it up a notch here vs the G1 as the G1 just has a sticker.  This has no functional importance, but it does look cool.

cln_img_4467Just above the Linear Flow Valve, there is a small plate that reads… “Made in the USA”

cln_img_4448Here’s a look at the sight gauge

cln_img_4449This picture shows the laser etching for the sight glass

cln_img_4537The included Allen wrench allows you remove the top portion of the sight gauge for cleaning

cln_img_4545A brush is included to clean the sight gauge.

cln_img_4423A look inside the kettle.  The included dip tube is on the left hand side.

cln_img_4435A close up of the installed dip tube.

cln_img_4510The dip tube is a tool-less design, meaning, no tools are required to install or remove it.  From what I can gather, it’s the same as the G1.  Works great and it’s easy to use.

cln_img_4477When a first unboxed the G2, I went directly to the Linear Flow Valve.  After turning it a bit, I thought, yeah… it’s pretty cool.  After figuring it out, I can tell you that it is… revolutionary.  Keep reading.

cln_img_4478The Linear Valve’s Cool Touch Handle.  Cool Touch should maybe be “Cooler Touch”.  It is helpful, but still use caution when grabbing for the valve.  It can get warm, even hot.  Most of the time I am able to adjust with my bare hand, but there have been times I’ve grabbed something to shield my hand for the heat.  Heat-wise I would say this is a big improvement from the ball lock handle.

cln_img_4483The side of the Linear Valve, emblazoned with a Blichmann Logo B.  Note that the Linear Valve can be configured at any angle.

cln_img_4522This is the revolutionary part.  That’s light you see through the Linear Valve’s body.  After a while, I started looking through the manual to see how the Linear Valve comes apart.  What would I need to do to clean this?  What tools are required?  The valve simply unscrews and the entire inner workings pop out.  No tools.  When the thing just came off, it was a near jaw dropping moment for me.  I’ve got my fair share of 3 piece ball valves that can be taken apart for thorough cleaning.  How often do I take those apart for thorough cleaning?  I wouldn’t use the word… often.  The Linear Valve comes apart so easily that it will be cleaned every time I use the kettle.

cln_img_4515The inside of the linear valve.  There isn’t much to it.  Easy to clean and sanitize.

cln_img_4518Side view of the inside of the Linear Valve

cln_img_4536The valve body

cln_img_4484New handle design

cln_img_4492New lid handle design

cln_img_4505The lid handle is designed to fit in the kettle handle.

cln_img_4567G1 and G2 10 Gallon Blichmann BoilerMaker Kettles Side by Side

cln_img_4553The G2 with Brewmometer installed

http://www.homebrewfinds.com/2014/11/12-3-piece-stainless-steel-ball-valve-14-95.htmlAfter using it the first time, I decided to orient the valve facing to the side.  Changing the valve orientation is as easy loosening the back nut, changing positions and re-tightening.  The ring on the dip tube can be re-oriented so that the aligning pin fits correctly and the dip tube points down.  I’ve found a side benefit to this orientation.  If you have the valve facing away from you, you can lean the kettle back while carrying it to prevent stray wort from dripping while you’re carrying around the kettle.  I like that a lot, since I usually brew in the garage and do most cleaning in my basement.

Blichmann G2 Kettle Hands on ReviewHere’s a picture of the valve working on the new position.

Blichmann G2 Kettle Hands on Review Linear Valve TestAfter my “First Looks” Post, I received questions on the flow rate of Blichmann’s new linear valve design.  I had that same question.  To test, I filled both G1 and G2 kettles up to the bottom of their valve outlets.  I actually overfilled and then let the excess drain out.  With both valves opened, I dumped in three gallons of water (from a 5 gallon bucket) and (with my son’s help, despite rumors to the contrary I only have two arms 🙂 timed how long it took to drain that three gallons.  We kept timing until the water level hit the top of the interior valve nut on both kettles.  I did that because I didn’t want to try and time the last dribbles coming out.  So, this was a 3 gallon-ish test.  Results: G1 – 2 Minutes and 4 Seconds, G2 1 Minute 46 Seconds.  The linear valve was 16 seconds slower.  Part of that may be because I have the valve oriented to the right.  The net result is that the flow rate is a bit less for the Linear Valve.  I have a suspicion that the difference will be less when using a pump.  I plan to try that in the future.  Either way, I would much rather have the Linear Flow Valve vs a Three Piece Ball Valve.  I have easily cleaned this every single time I’ve used the G2.

Blichmann G2 Kettle Hands on Review BIABBrewing MoreBeer’s M80 IPA BIAB Style with The Brew BagReview.  The G2’s Handles make nice spots to secure the bag.  Facebook Friend Brian asked if the BrewMometer’s interferes with the bag when brewing BIAB.  The answer is that BrewMometer’s probe is a short 2″.  It’s not sticking half way into the kettle.  It works well with Brew in a Bag.

Blichmann G2 Kettle Hands on Review BrewMometerThe BrewMometer showing the mash temp for M80

Blichmann G2 Kettle Hands on Review ChefAlarmI pulled out my ChefAlarmReview – to test out-of-the-box accuracy of the BrewMometer while brewing M80.  I’d say that is very close.  Of course, you can calibrate the BrewMometer as needed.

Blichmann G2 Kettle Hands on Review HopburstBrewing an extract beer using the G2.  The string is the tied off specialty grains steeping bag.  Also Pictured: Brew Day WhiskReview and TopTier BrewStand.

Blichmann G2 Kettle Hands on Review RiteBrew Oatmeal StoutThis is the grain bill of a partial mash Oatmeal Stout.

After using the G2 for a while, I can… wholeheartedly recommend it.  In true Blichmann fashion, it is a great piece of purpose designed brewing equipment from small thoughtful details to innovative new features (like the revolutionary Linear Flow Valve) to first quality materials and construction.  The Blichmann BoilerMaker G2 is a great homebrewing kettle!

The G2 line is available at a number of retailers including Great FermentationsMore Beer and Adventures in Homebrewing

Shopping Tip: Blichmann gear is price controlled.  You’re not going to see a lot of difference from retailer to retailer, other than shipping fees and taxes.  For this particular purchase, I went with Adventures in Homebrewing because they are currently offering free shipping and I received the equivalent of 5% back via their rewards program.  That offer also applies to the TopTier Stand (and any options you include on the TopTier page) and the Tower of Power – Check it out – Here

Recent Great Deals [more]:

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Hands On: Rubbermaid Commercial Product 1 Gallon Bouncer Pitcher

Review Rubbermaid Commercial Products FG321800CLR 4-Quart Bouncer Measuring Cup

There are several equipment purchases that I look back on and say… I’m really glad I got that, it’s made a big difference.  Sturdy, Food Safe One Gallon pitchers fit that bill.  I went from a mish-mash of too small plastic pitchers, found around the house, that bent under the weight of wort, dripped and leached who knows what into my beer to two commercial quality 1 gallon pitchers.  What a difference.

I started out with pitchers similar to these those work well, but have a couple of drawbacks.  I still use those for some purposes.   A while back, May of 2013, I picked up Rubbermaid Commercial’s 4 Quart Bouncer Pitcher.  Here’s a look at that.

Here’s the Rubbermaid commercial pitchers quart markings.  Clear sides make it easy to see what you’re measuring.

Liter markings.

Rubbermaid Commercial Products Division

BPA Free

NSF Certified

Easy peel off label.  That’s a pet peeve of mine.  This actually comes off clean.Made in USA

Thick, heavy duty plastic.  This pitcher feels sturdy.  My assumption is that these are called Bouncers because you can bounce them off the floor.  Have not tried that on purpose yet, but I do plan to mistakenly drop this at some point.  🙂Bus Tubs HomebrewThree of my favorite brew day things – commercial bus tub for carrying gear and ingredients and catching drips, Rubbermaid Commercial Pitcher and my Brew Day Whisk.    Taken while brewing Brain Eater Pale Ale,

High Temps.  This pitcher is designed with commercial kitchen use in mind.  It’s made for both hot and cold use -40 to 212 deg F.

Two Pitchers.  If you are vorlaufing/recirculating, you’re going to want two pitchers and even if you’re not two pitchers are handy.

What I use this pitcher for.  Vorlaufing/recirculating, collecting water, topping up water, collecting wort from my mash tun, holding utensils on brew day, as a cleaning vessel for smaller items, mixing up PBW and Star San, general measuring.  I’m sure there’s more.

Rubbermaid Commercial Products FG321800CLR 4-Quart Bouncer Measuring Cup

I can highly recommend this pitcher to you.  I’ve been using it on brew day and beyond for years.  It’s on a short list of my favorite upgrades.

Rubbermaid Commercial Products FG321800CLR 4-Quart Bouncer Measuring Cup

Recent Amazon Finds [view more]:

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Hands On: Ultraship 55 lb Digital Scale [Grain] With Removable Face

UltraShip 55 lb. Digital Postal Shipping Reviewthe Ultra-55 with 150 grams of calibration weights

I’ve used the Ultraship Ultra-55 as a grain scale for years and years.  Since April of 2009.

The UltraShip 55 features… A large 55 lb/25 kg capacity.  Tare, hold and auto off features.  Removable face for weighing oversize objects (buckets of grain).  Can be powered by C batteries of via an optional AC Adapter.

One my favorite features of this scale is the removable front face.  That allows you to weigh larger items and still easily see the display.  The tare feature is also important.

Front face disengaged

10 lb bag of grain

This picture shows a 10 lb bag of Maris Otter.  It shows 10 lbs 5 and 1/2 ounces.  I don’t believe that reading is inaccurate.  The bag itself weighs a little bit and I’m sure the distributor puts a little extra in there to ensure we’re getting our moneys worth.

This picture shows the scale weighing the same bag, this time inside of a 5 gallon bucket that has been subtracted from the total weight using this scale’s tare feature.  The tare feature allows out to zero out the scale with receiving vessel, in this case a bucket, on it.  This effectively subtracts the weight of the container.  Notice the identical weight reading.  This scale is consistent.

The scale weighing 28 grams (around 1 ounce) of calibration weights.  Having used this scale for years, I knew that it was a great scale, but I will say that in doing the work for this post, I was surprised by it’s accuracy with smaller weights.  I still recommend an accurate gram scale for hops and especially water salts, but this scale certain turns in a respectable nearest gram performance and could be used for hops if it was your only scale.

img_orderThis is a great scale that I have used for years.  I can heartily recommend it to you if you for use as a grain scale.

UltraShip 55 lb. Digital Postal Shipping & Kitchen Scale

This scale is also available in both 35 and 75 lb versions…

My Weigh UltraShip 35 Lb Electronic Scale | Ultraship 75 Lb Electronic Digital Shipping Postal Kitchen Scale

Related: UltraShip Owners Manual & Troubleshooting Guide from MyWeigh

Also Consider

 

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

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

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

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

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

AWS-100Back of the scale

AWS-100Front of the scale when open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I've owned this since December 2014I’ve owned this since December 2014

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

American Weigh 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale

Also Consider:

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