Category Archives: Amazon Reviews

First Looks: ITC-1000 Temperature Controller + PDF Manuals

ITC-1000 Temperature Controller

Here’s a First Look at the ITC-1000.  First, some background… The STC-1000 is a very popular homebrewing temperature controller.  One caveat of the STC-1000 (for some) is that the vast majority (maybe all?) display in Celsius only.  Yes you can do some firmware re-flashing and such things, but as far as off the shelf units, the vast majority read in Celsius.  Some may point to this offering.  It does indeed read in deg F, however, it appears to be the single stage version.

Enter the Inkbird ITC-1000… It’s 110 V, Dual Stage (can control both heating and cooling output), has an alarm to indicate sensor failure or high temperature and… it displays in Fahrenheit… finally!  It’s also said to be more user friendly than the STC-1000.  In addition to the ITC-1000, an ITC-2000 model is available.  That adds the ability to set both high and low temperature alarms.

The STC-1000 was already a great controller, arguably the best value in temperature controllers.  These improvements seem to make a great thing even better.

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildThe Inkbird ITC-1000 box

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildBox opened.  You get the dual stage controller, temperature probe and manual.

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildFront of the ITC-1000

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildSide view

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildThe top of the controller displays a wiring diagram.

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildBack of the controller.  This removable plate partially shields the wire connections.

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildTemperature probe.

ITC-1000 Homebrew Temperature Controller BuildFor size comparison next to the Lifeline 7508 Stainless GrowlerReview.

ITC-1000 Temp ControllerFor size comparison next to… a banana.  Yes, I ate this banana.  It was pretty tasty.

Inkbird All-Purpose Digital Temperature Controller Fahrenheit &Centigrade Thermostat w Sensor 2 Relays

Also ConsiderInkbird Relay &Temp Alarm Output Digital Temperature Controller Degree F &C Thermostat w Sensor

PDF Manuals:
Note – These are the current versions, as of this posting, however, software versions and manuals change over time.

Pinned: 11 Gal Kettle · ITC-1000 Temp Controller! · Thermapen · Discount BoilCoil

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Hands On: ClosetMaid Shelf Caps (as Keg Lid Feet)

ClosetMaid 75355 24 Large and 60 Small End Caps, White, 84-Pack

I’ve heard for quite a while now, that these shelf caps (model 75355) from ClosetMaid make dandy keg feet replacement.  You get a total of 84 feet – 60 small and 24 large.  The small are the ones said to work as keg lid feet.  If you crunch the numbers on per foot cost, it typically ends up being a pretty big bargain.

I decided to put these to the test.  Do they work well as keg lid feet?  We’ll find out…  I’m sure you’re on the edge of you’re seat now! :)

keg lid feetThe package.  Hey… these are meant to be used as wire rack caps.  You get yourself a shelf, something like this, cut it to size and then use this caps to make it so you don’t cut yourself up when you grab a pair of socks or something.  They probably work great for their intended purpose.

IMG_7571As mentioned previously, you get two sizes of caps.  The small caps are the ones used for keg lid feet.

keg lid feetHere they are installed.  Hmmm.

keg lid feetIf you look closely you’ll see the “foot” pulling away as this closes.

Do these work?  Not really.  The thickness of the cap should help to exert pressure on the lid and help the oring seal.  These aren’t as thick as purpose made feet.  For the cost of the real thing (and considering what’s at stake – CO2… beer!), I would personally rather use purposed designed equipment for this purpose.

In fairness to those who have said these work well… 1. The stock picture looks different from what I received – maybe these have changed and 2. Maybe they do fit well on some feet.  Just not the ones I tried.

ClosetMaid 75355 24 Large and 60 Small End Caps, White, 84-Pack

Keg Lid Feet - $1.39

Related: Bulk Keg Orings and Keg Repair Part Numbers

843339 - Keg Closure Feet (Pair)

Pinned: 11 Gal Kettle · ITC-1000 Temp Controller! · Thermapen · Discount BoilCoil

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Step by Step: Rehydrating Dried Yeast Using Rubbermaid TakeAlong Containers

I have used Bel-Art Lab Quality Autoclave Safe Bottles to rehydrate yeast for years.  I bought a dozen of these back in February of 2011 and still have 9 or 10 unused containers.  These are great bottles and have worked really well for me.

Although the per container cost of these is generally reasonable, buying a dozen of these lab containers can be a bit pricey.  I stumbled across the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs line of containers while looking for a less costly alternative.  They are food safe, leak proof and microwave safe.

First a look at the container…

Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Twist and Seal Food Storage Containers, 2-Cup, Clear, Set of 3Stock Image

In the package.

Side of Box: Twist&Seal – Twist-tight, leak-proof seal.  Handles stay cool when food is hot.

On the lid: Remove lid before microwaving

Recycling code is PP 6, 2 cup/473 mL capacity, Top Rack Dishwasher Safe, Microwave Safe (symbol), Freezer Safe (symbol), Made in USA

Rehydrating Yeast Using this Container…

Disclaimer:  This process involves hot liquids and steam.  Use caution as this is a dangerous process and you could get hurt.  Always read and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

I used Fermentis Safale S-04 dried yeast for this process.  Here are rehydration instructions for this yeast.  Fermentis Safale US-05 directions are identical.  Check with your yeast manufacturer for specific rehydration instructions.

The instructions say to use 10 times the weight of yeast being rehydrated.  11.5 gram packet equates to 115 grams.  I used the my – Fast Weight MS-500 Digital Scale to do the heavy lifting here.

Since I use US-05 quite a bit, this is a pretty common weight for me, so I marked the side of the container with an Industrial Sharpie so I don’t have to weigh this out every time.

Next I placed the container in my microwave, with.  Remember… Remove the lid before microwaving.  I chose to set the lid loosely on top to allow the steam to sanitize the inside of the lid.

Next I carefully attached the lid.  Again: If you decide to do this, be careful and do it at your own risk.

As the container cools, the sides will collapse a bit (as pictured).  After this was all said and done, the sides bounced back pretty well but not perfectly.  I cooled the container and water under running tap water until it reached my desired temperature.  In this case 85 deg F.  The instructions say 80 deg F + or – 6 degrees.  I took the temperature with a touch free IR thermometer.  You could also use a sanitized digital thermometer.

The next step is to sprinkle yeast in the rehydration water.  I re-attached the lid and, per the directions, let it stand for 15 minutes or so.

Picture of the sprinkled yeast from the front

The directions say to gently stir for 30 minutes.  One of the beautiful things about using a container like this, with a lid, is that you can swirl instead of stir.  That keeps airborne bacteria and wild yeast to a minimum and you’re also not digging around in your yeast, with who knows what, for 30 minutes.  I swirled this occasionally and came out with this result.

End product.  Hey this looks like yeast!

These are food safe and microwave safe.  The leak proof lid allows you to minimize contact with the outside air.  This worked well for me.

With a pack of three you can use one for yeast and the other two for general storage around the brewery.

Rubbermaid TakeAlongs 2-Cup Twist and Seal Containers, Pack of 3

Bel-Art 106320007 Scienceware Polypropylene Precisionware Wide-Mouth Autoclavable Bottle with 53mm Closure, 500ml Capacity, Pack of 12

Pinned: 11 Gal Kettle · ITC-1000 Temp Controller! · Thermapen · Discount BoilCoil

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toppost:rehydratingyeast

Update: Hands On – CDN DTQ450X Quick Read Thermometer – Includes Accuracy and Response Time Tests

The DTQ450X in boiling water

The DTQ450X from Component Design (CDN) is a quick read digital thermometer thermometer.  It is NSF listed, waterproof and comes with a 5 year warranty.

Features:

  • NSF approved for commercial applications
  • -40 to 450 deg F
  • 5 inch stainless stem
  • Quick read: 5 to 6 second read time.
  • Digital
  • Food Safe
  • Waterproof
  • Easy re-calibration
  • 5 year warranty

In the package

Bottom view

Battery Door

Completely submerged.  Note: The manual explicitly says not to do this.  Guess what?  I did it!  I completely submerged this thermometer for version 1 of this review sometime around November of 2012.  The thermometer has gotten plenty wet since then and is still performing like a champ.  I’m not suggesting that you completely submerge yours.  You should follow the manual’s instructions.  I am saying, mine has held up to this type of treatment.

Accuracy:

I’ve experienced different boiling temperature on different days using the same equipment and testing methods.  Boiling temperature is a moving target.  It is based on elevation and atmospheric conditions.  The day of this test, boiling point was a consistent 211.8 deg F as read by my highly accurate Thermapen.

The CDN DTQ450X reads 211.6 deg F.  It’s reading to .2 deg F low.  Well within it’s stated accuracy of +- 2 deg F.  Practically speaking, for our needs, this is right on.

Ice water is a more reliable reference point.  Here is the CDN DTQ450X head to head with the Thermapen.  As you can see, the Thermapen reads right at 32 deg F.  The CDN DTQ450X reads 32.9 deg F.  Again, well within it’s stated 2 deg F range.  This is a good result.  Not great, but good.  That fact that it is more accurate at the higher range bodes well for homebrewers.  We’re much closer to that end of the spectrum for most of the things we’re doing.

Response Times:

This video shows a response time test using the CDN DTQ450X.  I tried to do this with water that was around mash temperature.  I’m counting the start of the test as right when the metal basket hits the water.  The probe of the thermometer is submerged at 2.28 seconds into the video.  It levels out at 138.3 deg F at 5.7 seconds.  That’s a response time of… 3.42 seconds.  For .1 deg F resolution, that’s a great response time.  In fact, it’s 1.98 seconds faster than a similar test I completed on my review of ThermoWorks Thermapen.

The DTQ450X measuring grain temperature

Bottom Line:

I’ve used the CDN DTQ450X since October of 2012.  This same unit continues to look and function well.  This thermometer is one of our Top Finds and it’s also a key component of my Brew Day Box.  It displays very good accuracy and it has a very, very good response time.  If you’re looking for a thermometer for homebrewing and general use this is an excellent choice that I can recommend based on experience.

CDN DTQ450X ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer

First Looks: Variable Speed AC Fan for DIY Stir Plate or Kegerator Circulation

img_img_7320Fan with included AC Wiring and Variable Speed Control.

I picked this cooling fan up primarily to put together a Stir Plate design that works with it.  I chose this model because… 1. It’s a good size (4.7″ square), 2. Is already wired for AC and, 3. Includes a variable speed function.

AC Infinity AI-120SCX Speed Control Fan Kit for Cabinet Cooling, Single 120mm

Here’s a first look…

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateFront of the Fan

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateBack of the fan.  This side actually rotates.  If you were looking to put together a stir plate, this is the side you’d put the magnet on.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateHere’s where the AC wire plugs in.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateThis shows the AC wire plugged in.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateThe specs say this is 4.7″ square.  From side to side, I get 4 11/16″.  As you’ll see it’s large enough to hold a 5 Liter Erlenmeyer.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateI’d call this just a hair under 1″ thick

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateFor size reference, with a 2L Erlenmeyer in the background.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateWith a 2L Erlenmeyer on Top.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateThis thing is all but begging to become a stir plate.  I put four of these rubber bumpers in the four corners (to hold the erlenmeyer in place and give it a little bit of clearance) and then put four of these magnets in the center.  Those just stuck on there with magnetic force and they ended up deciding to stack themselves two high.  It’s kind of hard to tell with this photo, but this is a 5L Erlenmeyer Flask with 2L of water with a vortex using that setup.  I’m not suggesting this as a final design.  I’m only that this fan is a great candidate for conversion.

DIY Homebrew Yeast Stir PlateThis photo shows the magnet/rubber bumper setup

I use a similar fan for recirculating air in my kegerator.  See: Kegerator Beer Line Temperatures & Reducing Foam with a Recirculating Fan

AC Infinity AI-120SCX Speed Control Fan Kit for Cabinet Cooling, Single 120mm

SEOH 2L Narrow Mouth Erlenmeyer Flask with Heavy Duty Rim 1/pk

Erlenmeyer Flask (5000 ml) Y450

Also Consider:

Pinned: 11 Gal Kettle · ITC-1000 Temp Controller! · Thermapen · Discount BoilCoil

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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 this 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.

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

Related:

Pinned: 11 Gal Kettle · ITC-1000 Temp Controller! · Thermapen · Discount BoilCoil

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Hands On: 750 mL Stainless Wine and Beer Growler – Includes Temp Trials

Review Lifeline Stainless Wine Growler

I’m a big fan of Lifeline Products’ Line of Stainless Steel, Double Wall, Vacuum Insulated Growlers.

Lifeline Gear and ReviewsLifeline 7508 Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Double Wall Barrel Style Growler • Review • Lifeline Growler Carrier • Review • Lifeline 7502 40 Ounce Growler • Review • Lifeline 7512 Silver Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Double Wall Bottle Style Growler – 750ml. Capacity • Review

They recently released a 750 mL Size for wine lovers.  Here’s a hands on look at that including two temperature time trials.

Lifeline Wine Growler ReviewIn the box.  This comes nicely packaged.  Ready to be wrapped up as a gift for yourself or others.  Oh, you don’t wrap gifts you buy for yourself?

Lifeline 7512 Wine Growler ReviewLifeline’s 7512 Stainless Wine Growler.  This is the uncoated stainless version.  It comes in other colors.

Lifeline 7512 Wine Growler ReviewClose up of the front of the label.  Reads Seven Fifty.  Wine Growler.  Double Wall Vacuum Insulated

Lifeline 7512 Wine Growler ReviewReads: No Liner.  No Condensation.  No Taste or Odor.  Holds a Full Bottle of Wine.  BPA Free.

Lifeline 7512 Wine Growler ReviewDiagram of how the vacuum insulated design works

Lifeline 7512 Wine Growler ReviewA look inside the growler

Stainless Growler Homebrew WinemakingA look at the cap

cln_img_6205This note about general usage comes inside the growler.

Lifeline 7512 Wine Growler ReviewBottom of the growler.  Reads: Vacuum Insulated, 750 mL, 18/8 Stainless

Lifeline 7512 Wine Growler ReviewI tared out my Escali Primo and filled up the growler with water to get an idea of capacity.  It comes out to about 801 grams.  801 grams = 801 mLs.  That’s a bit more than the stated capacity of 750 mL.  But… the lid/stopper combo takes up a bit of the neck.  I think the usable space is pretty well right at 750 mL.  That’s perfect for a bottle of… wine.

cln_img_6223A look at the same water in my 1 Gallon Brew Day PitcherReview

Lifeline 7512 Wine Growler ReviewHey this is the growler next to a 2013 bottle of Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc.

Lifeline 7512 Wine Growler ReviewHere is the growler filled with an entire bottle of wine.  The cap just fits.  Perfecto.

Lifeline 7512 Wine Growler ReviewTemperature Trials.  I put the bottle of wine and growler in my fermentation deep freeze (currently in cold crash mode) to chill everything down.  I put my kegerator fan – See: Reducing Foaming with a Recirculating Fan – in there to get things chilled down more quickly.  Also Pictured: Speidel FermenterReview.  It contains RiteBrew’s Oatmeal Stout.  Also Pictured:  If you look closely you’ll see a gigantic rubber band creation that my son made for me to hold on the temperature probe.  What a great kid!  Oh, he charged me $10.

Stainless Growler Homebrew WinemakingStart of the test.  My ThermoWorks ChefAlarmReview – shows 33.2 deg F

Stainless Growler Homebrew WinemakingThe ambient temperature was about 67 deg F

Insulated Stainless Growler Homebrew Winemaking19 hours and 39 minutes later, the wine reads 47.6 deg F.  That figures out to .733 deg per hour.  Much like the rest of the line, the insulation capabilities of this thing are amazing.  Gift Idea: You could fill one of these with chilled wine, wrap it hours before it will be unwrapped and the gift recipient will receive an amazing growler along with a chilled, ready to drink bottle of wine.  Whammo.

Stainless Growler Homebrew WinemakingThis is also a great size for 22 ounces of beer.  I tried another trial using a 22 of Green Flash’s Imperial IPA.  Also pictured: Oxo Cast Stainless Bottle OpenerReview.

Stainless Growler Homebrew WinemakingHere’s where the 22 fills comes up to.  Temperature Trial.  Started at 31.8 deg F.  19 hours and 2 minutes later it read 46 deg F.  That’s a loss of .734 deg per hour, nearly identical to the wine test.  Update:  I received a question about whether or not this growler is rated to hold carbonated beverages.  From my experience, I can tell you that it works great for carbonated beverages.  I also contacted Lifeline Products to double check that they recommend it for that use.  Indeed, it is officially rated to hold carbonated beverages.

Much like the rest of the line, this container looks great and works great.  I’m glad to have one for myself and I also think it would make a great gift.

Lifeline 7512 Silver Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Double Wall Bottle Style Growler – 750ml. Capacity

Related…
Lifeline Growler Carrier

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

Pinned: 11 Gal Kettle · ITC-1000 Temp Controller! · Thermapen · Discount BoilCoil

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Review:LifelineWineGrowler