Category Archives: Midwest Reviews

Hands on Review: Mark’s Keg and Carboy Washer

Review Marks Keg and Carboy Washer

Here’s a Hands on Look at Mark’s Keg and Carboy Washer, including a couple of videos with it in action.

Mark's Keg and Carboy WasherThe front of the box.  “Clean and Sanitize Carboys, Corny Kegs, Brew Pails and Hoses” and “1 Year Guarantee”

Mark's Keg and Carboy WasherSide of the box.  It says: •Clean and Sanitize Carboys. No need for a bottle brush. Clean every square inch of the inside of a carboy in minutes. •Clean and sanitize Corny Kegs. No need to disassemble the keg. Clean the inside of the keg and the dip tube. •Clean and Sanitize Brew Pails and Hoses. •Spend your time brewing beer, not cleaning your equipment.

Mark's Keg and Carboy WasherOther side of the box.  It recaps features and then let’s you know what’s in the box: 1.25 gallon high density polyethylene basin, center holding rack with powerful jet nozzle, 520 gallon-per-hour pump with three adapters, instruction manual and warranty.

cln_img_4168The Keg and Carboy Washer unboxed.

Mark's Keg and Carboy WasherA look at the individual components.

Mark's Keg and Carboy Washer1.25 gallon basin.

Mark's Keg and Carboy Washer NozzlesA look at the four included nozzles/adapters.  From left to right: 1. T for use with cleaning Corny kegs.  The barb goes to tubing that feeds you keg’s dip tube, 2.  Barb for cleaning 3/8″ ID tubing, 3.  Jet nozzle for both carboys and kegs.  For carboys it goes directly on the vertical pipe, for kegs the T goes on first followed by the jet nozzle, 4.  Barb for cleaning 1/4″ ID tubing.

Mark's Keg and Carboy Washer PumpTop of the Pump

Mark's Keg and Carboy Washer PumpThis is the back side of the pump.  It has an adjustable louvre for regulating intake.  You’re probably going to want to just always have this wide open.  If you’re having flow issues, double check this to make sure it’s open.

Mark's Keg and Carboy WasherFully assembled and rigged to clean a carboy.  The bottom part of the basin holds about 1 gallon of water, cleaning solution or sanitizer.

Keg and Carboy Cleaner TubingFully assembled and rigged up to clean a ball lock keg.  You provide the Ball Lock or Pin Lock QD along with tubing.

cln_img_4246The Keg and Carboy Cleaner, cleaning a… Carboy

Keg and Carboy Cleaner BucketIt also works with buckets

Keg and Carboy Cleaner Ball Lock Kegand of course… kegs

cln_img_4401and can clean and sanitize tubing

cln_img_4255Mark's Keg and Carboy Washer Speidel Fermenterand… it works with Speidel Fermenters.  This is the 5.3 Gallon SizeReview.  The 7.9 Gallon Size has the same size opening and also works.  I will say that with a bucket, carboy or keg I feel pretty comfortable walking away for a bit while it’s working.  Not so with the 5.3 and 7.9 Gallon Speidels.  The opening is about the same size as the top of the carboy washer.  That means it sits on top instead of inside (like a carboy) or outside (like a bucket).  If you use this for your 5.3 and 7.9 gallon Speidels, you’re going to want to keep your hand on it to keep the fermenter in place.  I’m guessing, but do not know first hand, that larger Speidels, with their larger openings, work well with the Keg and Carboy Washer without such support, much like a bucket.

B2CAGkiIYAA1PBAUpdate: and… some kettles and keggles!  Thanks to Twitter Follower Christian for this tip and photo!

Mark's Keg and Carboy Washer Keg LidOne of the great things about this washer is that you do not need to disassemble your kegs to clean and sanitize them.  I ran through 5 kegs the first night I used it.  All were clean and sanitized when all was said and done.  Of course, you do have to take the lid off.  That, along with other small parts, can be tossed in the basin for cleaning and sanitizing.


This video shows the kind of flow rate you’re getting to the keg QD.   Looks good to me.

Mark's Keg and Carboy Washer Ball Lock KegFor keg cleaning, the instructions say to run with the QD connected for about 15 minutes and then disconnect the QD.  “This will maximize the pressure for cleaning the keg’s interior”.

One issue that I had with it when I first started using the washer for kegs was… the QD was a bit difficult to get on.  There isn’t a lot of spare tubing (and you don’t want a lot for pressure purposes) and requirement to exert pressure up on the QD while trying to hold the keg down is an awkward set of motions.  There isn’t a lot of leverage.  This problem ended up being a poppet issue.  I use universal poppets on nearly every keg.  Those work great, but can be on the tight side with some kegs.  I know that can be an issue.  The fix for that is and has been… simply trim a bit of the spring with a wire cutter.  I just hadn’t noticed it as a problem when trying to use the kegs in question in the typical orientation.  Using a wire cutter to trim a bit off the poppet spring fixed the issue making it a lot easier to hook up to the carboy washer.


Here’s a video of the Keg and Carboy Cleaner cleaning a 6 Gallon PET Carboy from MoreBeer – Review

I’ve owned this keg and carboy washer for quite a while now.  I had been using a DIY cleaning pump setup and that worked pretty well.  The purpose built Mark’s Keg and Carboy Washer works markedly (did you see what I did there :), better.  It uses less cleaning and sanitizing solution, it’s more versatile, takes up less space and… I don’t have to take apart my kegs to clean and sanitize them.

I’ve heard great things about this unit for some time now.  I’m happy to confirm that it works really well.

I purchased my unit at More Beer.  As of this writing, it’s selling for $99.99 Shipped – Here

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

Pinned: Super Brewer Sale · 30 Gal Kettle · Temp Controlled Conicals · littleBits?

Ends Tonight: Free Refractometer with Pump Purchase

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Mark's Keg and Carboy Washer Speidel Fermenter

First Looks: PET Big Mouth Bubbler

 
Here’s a First Looks post on the new 6.5 Gallon Big Mouth Bubbler Large Mouth Fermenter that is available from both Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies.

 

For height on this, including lid, I got roughly 21 1/2″
 
 Width at the bottom is roughly 10 1/2″
 
Width at the top of the fermenter is roughly 5 3/4″.  I’m hooking on the outside of the lip on the other side, so I would call the actual opening roughly 5 1/2″.  Plenty large enough to get my arm through.
 
They are kind of difficult to see in this picture, but the fermenter has hash marks built into it denoting 1 gallon increments.  I found the first one to be right on.  The remainder seemed just a little high to me.  I’d shoot for just under each hash mark after the first one.
 
The stated capacity of the 6.5 gallon fermenter is… 6.5 gallons.  By my measurements it’s actually 7 gallons.  There is approximately 3/4″ of an inch left over with 7 gallons of water in the fermenter.  
 
Here is the full fermenter with my generally handy 1 Gallon Rubbermaid Commercial Pitcher.  I use that for a bunch of things including on Brew Days.  
 
One of my tests on the fermenter was to carry it chock full of 7 gallons of water to my utility sink to empty it.  That’s about 58 lbs.  It held up fine and did not collapse or otherwise deform when I rested it on the side of the sink to empty it.
 
Bottom of the fermenter.
 
The lid is in two parts, an outer threaded ring and an interchangeable inside portion.  I have the single ported version, but a double ported version is also available.  The second port can be used for racking and easy sample taking.  When not in use a solid universal stopper is used to seal the second port.
 
Stopper and airlock installed.  The stopper seats firmly in the port.
 
 A custom designed carrier is also available for this carboy.  It has adjustable handles and horizontal straps.
 
Here’s the locking strap on the carrier.
 
The adjustable horizontal straps.
 
The carrier is Made in the USA.
 
Side view of the carrying straps.
 
The 6.5 PET Big Mouth Bubbler Wide Mouth Fermenter.
 
These are available from both Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies.
 

First Looks: 6.5 Gallon Wide Mouth Glass Fermenter

 
I’ve been eyeing these large mouth glass fermenters (Northern BrewerMidwest Supplies) for quite a while.  I finally have one to call my own!  Here’s a first look at the fermenter and accessories.
 
Both Northern Brewer (5 gallon - 6.5 gallon) and Midwest Supplies (5 gallon - 6.5 gallon) carry these fermenters.
 
Midwest Supplies’ offering qualifies for for their current, limited time, free shipping offering.  Just put together a qualifying order and these ship for free from Midwest Supplies.  That promo works on most things including heavy glass items like Glass Big Mouth Bubbler FermentersGlass Carboys and Bottles.
 
The box.  It arrived well packaged in a sturdy box.

 

A nice little note from the fellow homebrewer that packed this.  Thanks Andy P!

 

What I’ll call the neck of the carboy is nice and thick.  Probably difficult to see from this picture.

 

I used my digital calipers to measure the thickness the neck this and came out with .454 inches.  The rim tapers in a bit so it is a little bit more narrow as it reaches the top.

 

The 6.5 Gallon Big Mouth Bubbler with lid installed.  The lid is screw top with a PE Foam Lid Seal.  

 

The lid with the center cap removed.

 

The lid with included stopper installed.  As you can see the stopper has a nice, tight fit.

 

The 6.5 gallon bubbler with lid, stopper and airlock (not included) installed.
 
 
One of the coolest parts of this large mouth fermenter is the… large mouth. :)  That allows you to easily get in the carboy to clean it, add and remove ingredients and harvest yeast.  The way my calipers work means the display is upside down for this photo.  I get an inside measurement of 5.198 inches.  Wide enough to easily fit my arguably gi-hugic arm inside the carboy.
 
To illustrate, this photo shows the Top Find - 7508 Lifeline Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Growler – Review.  Inside of the Big Mouth Bubbler.

 

A custom carrier is available for the big mouth bubbler.  Here’s a picture of that installed on the carboy.  Both the handles and the horizontal straps are adjustable.  All related accessories can be found on the product page for the fermenter (Northern Brewer - Midwest Supplies).

 

The strap is made in the USA.  It’s a quality construction and feels solid when installed.  The straps tighten down to lock the carboy in the carrying harness.

 

Locking adjustment for the handles.

 

Here’s a photo of the horizontal strap and mechanism.

 

A side view of the carrying handle straps.

 

The Big Mouth Bubbler includes a nice microfiber glass for drying.

 

Seals are available in 5 packs.  You get two lid seals and three cap seals in each pack.  These five packs are a mere… 99 cents.

 

The carboy and strap fit nicely in the included shipping box.  I’ll hang on to that for storage.
 
I’m very impressed with this fermenter.  I’m planning to brew Northern Brewer’s Cascade Mountains Double IPA this weekend and give it a go for a fermentation.
 
Midwest Supplies Free Shipping Promo makes this a great time to pick one of these up.  Check them out – Here… 5 gallon - 6.5 gallon
 
These are also available at Northern Brewer: 5 gallon - 6.5 gallon.
 

Brewing Midwest Supplies Pike IPA Kit

I’ve had the chance to visit Pike Brewery and had a chance to try their beers on more than once occasion.  I’m a fan.  I recently brewed Midwest Supplies Pike IPA Kit.  The lurid details follow.

This kit is available in an all grain version and an extract with specialty grains version.  I brewed the all grain version.  It came with a bag of grains, priming sugar, hops, yeast and directions.

Grain just sitting there in my barley crusher.  I don’t like the look on your faces so I will crush you!

Crushed grain.  CDN DTQ405X is reading 57.2 degrees.
 
Strike water coming up to temperature
 
Time to mash
 
What do I do while I’m waiting?  I roast some coffee of course.  Using my Behmor 1600 roaster.  
Back to beer.  First runnings in the kettle.
 
Site glass on my Blichmann BoilerMaker shows that I’m just barely shy of my 3 gallon target.
 
Second runnings get me back on target at right about 6 gallons
 
Hot break
 
The Pike IPA kit uses Northern Brewer and US Goldings
 
Ready to chill
Coffee beans are done.
 
A starter of Wyeast 1056 ready to be pitched.
 
The finished beer.  Compare it to a glass of Pike IPA – Here – via beerandmicrobrews.com.  I think it looks spot on.
 
Different glass, different lighting.  I think this is a beautiful looking beer.
 
I really liked brewing this kit and I’m enjoying drinking it.  It’s got a nice hop backbone, a subtle caramel flavor and a spicy hop finish.
 
Description from Midwest Supplies:

This IPA by Pike Brewing is the quintessential example of a West Coast IPA. This beer will get ya in the 1.060 gravity range and put a pucker on yer lips. It is a full-bodied, malty beer with a complex hop flavor and an aroma that is floral, herbal, and spicy. Wow- American IPA at its best!

Pike’s India Pale Ale ALL-GRAIN Kit 245AGx - $25.99

Pike’s India Pale Ale Extract Kit 245x - $36.49

Pinned: Super Brewer Sale · 30 Gal Kettle · Temp Controlled Conicals · littleBits?

Ends Tonight: Free Refractometer with Pump Purchase

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Brewing Harriet’s West Side Belgian IPA from Midwest Supplies


I recently brewed Midwest’s West Side Belgian IPA kit.  Midwest has partnered with Minneapolis based Harriet Brewing to put this kit together.

Description from Midwest Supplies:

West Side Belgian-Style IPA
Harriet’s West Side is an eclectic ale brewed to balance the brightest West Coast hops with a prolific Belgian yeast strain. It pours light copper with a vigorous white head. Subtle malt gives way to a fruity, citrusy, and slightly spicy aroma and flavor. Light bodied, effervescent, and seductively approachable.

At Harriet Brewing we emphasize intention as the primary component in recipe development. It’s what makes good beer special. We take pride in using our knowledge of traditional beer styles, our open minds, and eclectic palates to brew both unique and traditional beer styles. Our goal with every recipe is authenticity… to develop a particular character that allows the beer to stand out and be remembered. It’s authenticity that we crave as beer drinkers; so, it’s authenticity that we strive for as brewers. We study beer, determine what we want, then manifest it! For most of us here, it’s not just in brewing; it’s a way of life.

 Specialty grains going in


 Just prior to adding the malt extract.  It had been a while since I had brewed an extract beer.  I had forgotten just how much color comes from steeped specialty grains.

Scary hot break.  Need to stir instead of taking pictures!


 Ready to cool

Tasty beer in a glass

I chose the Wyeast yeast option which is  Wyeast Belgian Ardennes 3522.  That yeast works well in the 65 to 72 deg F temperature range.  I fermented in the middle of that range at 68.  I wanted to get some of Belgian spice and esters without going overboard.

This is a tasty beer.  It has some of those Belgian yeast components along with a nice hop bitterness and west coast hop flavor.  I like the combination of those two types of flavors when the Belgian yeast component is not over the top.  Overall, I’m a fan of this beer and would certainly brew it again.

Harriet’s West Side Belgian IPA Extract – $44.99


Harriet’s West Side Belgian IPA All Grain – $33.99


RelatedMidwestKitsRecipesBelgianIPAReviewsBeers Brewed


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Hands on with the Leland Mini CO2 Regulator

With the summer serving season upon us, I thought it would be good to take a look at the Leland Mini CO2 Regulator.

The first thing that I noticed upon taking this out of the box is… this is a beefy little unit.  It feels solid and well put together.

This model differs from other portable/mini CO2 regulators in a couple ways.  First, it has a gauge and you can set the pressure.  Second, it takes relatively large 74g CO2 cartridges.  These cartridges give you the capacity to dispense two full 5 gallon kegs.  The 74g cartridges are the equivalent of 4.625 16g cartridges.  This is convenient and it also ends up being less expensive.  Current pricing from Midwest Supplies makes the larger cartridges about 17% cheaper when purchased in two packs vs 16 gram cartridges.

Portable Serving/Small Space Regulator
I think that the typical use for this would be as a regulator for portable serving or as your everyday regulator when you don’t have a lot of space.

After using it for a bit, I’ll propose a couple of additional uses.

Backup – I’m out of CO2 and I want to pour a beer!
I pulled this out of the box, when I did, because my 20 lb CO2 tank was empty.  I didn’t have time to swap it out and I wanted to serve a new pale ale recipe that I recently brewed.  This came in handy in a pinch.  My initial concern was that this would not fit in my deep freeze kegerator, but as you can see there’s plenty of room.  Since I can hang on to the partial cartridge, I’ll swap my tank out soon and I won’t end up using much CO2 from the 74g cartridge.


Serve Beers at Alternate Carbonation Levels
This regulator goes up to 30 PSI.  That’s plenty to serve high carbonation beers like Hefeweizens and Belgians.  If you don’t have a dual or triple pressure setup, you could use this regulator to serve beers at higher pressures.  I would not suggest force carbonation with this unit.  The 74g cartridges would get pricey. You could carbonate using your existing regulator or just as easily naturally carbonate with priming sugar.

Saving Partial Cartridges
This particular unit comes with a gas ball lock disconnect and a 74g CO2 Cartridge.  A good thing about this setup is… you don’t have to discard partial cartridges.  If you decide to serve a 3 gallon keg for a get together, or use this to serve beer from your kegerator in a crunch, you’re able to save the rest of that cartridge for a future use.


For size comparison, 74g cartridge next to a 16g cartridge.  Each 74g cartridge can serve up to two 5 gallon kegs.

Here is the fully assembled unit next to my handheld injector.  The mini-regulator is superior to the handheld injector.  I’ve found that the handheld injector tends to eat up cartridges at get togethers.  Other attendees tend to squeeze this for fun and sport.  The mini-regulator takes care of itself and keeps your beer at a constant pressure.  Plus.. the bling factor, you have to consider that.


Additional Pictures:




EDIT: Homebrew Finds Reader Jason mentioned that these can be adjusted so that they sit more horizontal.  Horizontal orientation + rotating the ball lock puts the regulator right on top of the keg.  Perfect for tight spaces.

The Leland Mini Regulator is well built and has worked great for me.  I’m looking forward to having it for upcoming Summer parties and as an emergency backup.  I think it would work well for someone who wants to keg beer but is short on space and I also think it would be handy to occasionally serve beers at higher carbonation levels.

Mini-CO2 Regulator w/Quick Disconnect and CO2 Cartridge – $141.99


74g CO2 Catridges (2 Pack) – $16.99

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