Category Archives: More Beer 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…

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Mark's Keg and Carboy Washer Speidel Fermenter

Hands On Review: German Made Speidel Fermenters

German Made, Speidel Fermenters are available in 12L (3.2 gal) 20L (5.3 gal), 30L (7.9 gal),  60L (15.9 gal), and 120L (31.7 gal) sizes.  A selection of Accessories and Replacement Gaskets is also available.

I’ve owned a 5.3 gallon Speidel fermenter since October of 2011.  I use it for small batch BIAB beers.  I’ve been very impressed with that fermenter.  More recently, I picked up the 7.9 gallon version so that I can ferment full 5 gallon batches with all the same advantages.  This is a hands on review of both fermenters.


Here’s the 7.9 gallon fermenter with lid and storage cap on.  It’s made of heavy duty HDPE that can handle up to 140 deg F.  HDPE is not… glass.  The benefits of that are… no dropping a glass fermenter down a couple steps and having it shatter and getting glass shards in your feet and spending the day cleaning up the beer you just made and never getting to drink any of it.  Ask me how I know :(.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have glass fermenters, there are pros and cons.  A pro of this design is safety.


The lid disassembled.  There are two parts.  An outer ring and the inner lid.  Notice the O-ring on the lid portion.  Every connection (lid or cap) has an O-ring.  I like that a lot.  I’ve used other plastic fermenters that are leaky.  The net result of that, for me at least, was no airlock activity because CO2 is leaking out other places.  Because the Speidel is well built and has airtight O-Ring connections, that has never happened when I’ve used the Speidel.  As a bonus, replacement lid gaskets are available.


The center portion of the lid with the storage cap installed.  The storage cap and spigot are the same size and threading.


Storage cap installed on the spigot port

 
The spigot (top) and storage cap (bottom).


The stopper, airlock and spigot


The airlock installed

 
Speidel logo on the front of the fermenter


Heavy duty handles.  Per the product specifications, each handle is rated for up to 66 lbs or 132 lbs in all.  That fact shows up in the product description starting at the 15.9 Gallon size.  I’m assuming it’s true of all sizes.


A look at the inside of the fermenter


Assembled


Side by side.  The 7.9 gallon/30 Liter next to the 5.3 gallon/20 Liter.

This is how I’ve been storing the 5.3 gallon.  Assembled with the spigot on bottom and the storage cap on top.  I leave everything threaded but loose.  That keeps out most of the dust, but still provides a little airflow.

cln_img_4295Here is the 7.9 gallon Speidel with a batch ready to be kegged.  As you can see I continue to keep the spigot oriented sideways during fermentation.  The O-Ring provides a good enough seal that you can carefully loosen the spigot slightly and rotate without leaks.  I flush it with Star San and then drain a bit of beer to clear up anything that might have settled in the spigot or in the area just beyond the spigot inside the fermenter.

cln_img_4298Slip some sanitized tubing over the spigot and make sure the tubing goes all the way to the bottom of the keg and you’re transferring.

cln_img_4310A look at the keg

cln_img_4311Clear beer transferring to my keg.  No siphoning required.

cln_img_4348Here’s the trub.  This was an IPA with a good amount of hops both in the boil and some dry hops.  The recipe had quite a few late addition hops.  I transferred most of that over from the boil kettle.

cln_img_435320.15 Seconds.  One thing I have been impressed with from day 1 (with my 5.3 gallon) is how easy these are to clean out.  There’s something about size and height of the spigot hole that just seems to make it easy.  To illustrate this, I had my son run a timer.  That timer started after I removed the spigot and got the hose and got the hose turned on.  I did not wait for trub to drain out of the fermenter.  I quickly took off the spigot, grabbed the hose and turned it on.  It took 20.15 seconds to go from the picture above to…

cln_img_4364You can see that it is nearly clean.  There is some stuff sticking to the walls toward the top of the fermenter.  It’s not completely ready for PBW and it’s not what I would normally do.  I was going for speed.  I would have taken another 30 or 45 seconds and sprayed the rest out.  My point is that it’s easy.

sidebysideSide by side

cln_img_4374After rinsing out the Speidel, I put the solid cap on the spigot hole and fill with hot water and PBW.

cln_img_4385The 7.9 Gallon Speidel with hot PBW solution soaking in it.  I’ll let this sit for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.  A quick drain and rinse and the fermenter is good to go.  I’ve never scrubbed the inside of these with anything.

cln_img_4260

If you’re a Marks Keg and Carboy Washer owner or prospective owner and wonder if this fits on that, the answer is… yes.  It’s not like cleaning a bucket, standard fermenter or keg in that I would feel comfortable walking away.  The openings (both 5.3 and 7.9 gallon versions) are large enough to sit on top, but not so large that I would trust them to be stable on their own.  So, plan on staying close.  As illustrated, it’s a breeze to clean this thing without the Keg and Carboy Washer, but the two do work together.

Some Benefits of Speidel Fermentation Tanks (via product description):

  • High quality, German manufactured.
  • Made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Heavy duty and much thicker than traditional plastic carboys
  • Oversized top opening makes for easy cleaning.
  • Integrated spigot
  • All connections have o-rings to insure you have no liquid or gas leaks.
  • Integrated handles for easily moving these around.
  • Unlike traditional carboys, these will not shatter.
  • High density construction is highly resistant to oxygen ingress, making these suitable for longer term (up to 12 month) use.
  • Up to 31.7 gallons

I have bought my 5.3 gallon Speidel back in October of 2011.  It’s a great fermenter.  Quality construction and a great set of features that make easy work of the job of fermentation, transfer and clean up.  The 7.9 gallon version is nearly identical, with the exception of capacity.

Speidel Fermenters are available in 12L (3.2 gal) 20L (5.3 gal), 30L (7.9 gal),  60L (15.9 gal), and 120L (31.7 gal) sizes.  A selection of Accessories and Replacement Gaskets is also available.

From HBF Readers:  

Ronnie: These are the best! Having gone from bucket to glass carboy to better bottles to the 15.9 speidel, the speidel tops them all. Easy to clean and cheap!

Facebook Friend Sean: Speidel fermenters are AWESOME!! Thanks for posting those.

Google+ Friend Kyle: Mine is full right now! Love this fermenter, no more differences in flavor because I had to split my batch to ferment. Easy open top makes is a breeze to clean. Should be on every homebrewers wish list. 

Facebook Friend Tim:  I have of the 7.8L Speidel fermenters and I love them, simply the best for the money!

Muncie : I have the 30L and it is my “go to” fermenter. Just a great product. No need for a blow off tube for this 5 and 6 gallon batches.

Anonymous: I have the 60L and it is awesome. Very high quality and easy to use / clean. The handles are sturdy even completely full, but if you do fill it up all the way, be prepared to get a friend to help you move it.

Tony: Gotta pipe in on these. I have the 20L and 60L tanks. The quality is high. They come with a bung and airlock made for these larger tanks. They also have spigots and big lids to make cleaning a snap.  The spigot on the 20 is about 1 1/2 inches above the bottom of the tank. On the 60 it is closer to 3″. This allows for transfers with the spigot without pulling in too much of the yeast cake.  I just line up the spigot and pour directly into my keg. No hoses, siphons, funnels, etc. Easy.  The handles are great. You can lift the huge 60L one alone, but it’s really heavy, even with only 11 gallons… there’s lots of room for more, so you could easily make a 12 gallon batch in there too without needing a blowout tube.  Headroom is great on these. With the 20L, it has room for the 5.5 gallon batches I make, and I have no issues with blow-outs, even with big IPAs. NOTE: I do use defoamer, which I think helps a lot. On the 60L, there’s tons of room above an 11 gallon batch. My current batch of amber ale had only about 2 inches of foam and another 6″ of headspace.  There are other cheaper options, and you can find nice HDPE tanks on ebay that are similar, but they won’t have it all together, purpose built like these.

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First Looks: German Made Speidel 7.9 Gallon Fermenter

I’ve owned a 5.3 gallon Speidel fermenter for quite some time.  I use it for small batch BIAB beers.  I’ve been very impressed with that fermenter.  I recently got the 7.9 gallon version so that I can ferment full 5 gallon batches with all the same advantages.


Here’s the fermenter with lid and storage cap on.


The lid disassembled.  There are two parts.  An outer ring and the inner lid.  Notice the oring on the lid portion.  Every connection (lid or cap) has an o-ring.  I like that a lot.  I’ve used other plastic fermenters that are leaky.  The net result of that, for me at least, was no airlock activity because CO2 is leaking out other places.  Because the Speidel is well built and has airtight O-Ring connections, that has never happened when I’ve used the Speidel.  As a bonus, replacement lid gaskets are available.


The center portion of the lid with the storage cap installed.  The storage cap and spigot are the same size and threading.


Storage cap installed on the spigot port

 
The spigot (top) and storage cap (bottom).


The stopper, airlock and spigot


The airlock installed

 
Speidel logo on the front of the fermenter


Heavy duty handles


A look at the inside of the fermenter


Assembled


Side by side.  The 7.9 gallon/30 Liter next to the 5.3 gallon/20 Liter.


This is how I’ve been storing the 5.3 gallon.  Assembled with the spigot on bottom and the storage cap on top.  I leave everything threaded but loose.  That keeps out most of the dust, but still provides a little airflow.

Some Benefits of Speidel Fermentation Tanks:

  • High quality, German manufactured.
  • Made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Heavy duty and much thicker than traditional plastic carboys
  • Oversized top opening makes for easy cleaning.
  • Integrated spigot
  • All connections have o-rings to insure you have no liquid or gas leaks.
  • Integrated handles for easily moving these around.
  • Unlike traditional carboys, these will not shatter.
  • High density construction is highly resistant to oxygen ingress, making these suitable for longer term (up to 12 month) use.
  • Up to 31.7 gallons

I have been very happy with my 5.3 gallon Speidel and look forward to using the 7.9 gallon version for a full 5 gallon batch brew day!

Speidel Fermenters are available in 12L (3.2 gal),  20L (5.3 gal), 30L (7.9 gal),  60L (15.9 gal), and 120L (31.7 gal) sizes.  A selection of Accessories and Replacement Gaskets is also available.

From HBF Readers:  

RonnieThese are the best! Having gone from bucket to glass carboy to better bottles to the 15.9 speidel, the speidel tops them all. Easy to clean and cheap!

Facebook Friend Sean: Speidel fermenters are AWESOME!! Thanks for posting those.

Google+ Friend Kyle: Mine is full right now! Love this fermenter, no more differences in flavor because I had to split my batch to ferment. Easy open top makes is a breeze to clean. Should be on every homebrewers wish list. 

Muncie : I have the 30L and it is my “go to” fermenter. Just a great product. No need for a blow off tube for this 5 and 6 gallon batches.

AnonymousI have the 60L and it is awesome. Very high quality and easy to use / clean. The handles are sturdy even completely full, but if you do fill it up all the way, be prepared to get a friend to help you move it.

TonyGotta pipe in on these. I have the 20L and 60L tanks. The quality is high. They come with a bung and airlock made for these larger tanks. They also have spigots and big lids to make cleaning a snap.  The spigot on the 20 is about 1 1/2 inches above the bottom of the tank. On the 60 it is closer to 3″. This allows for transfers with the spigot without pulling in too much of the yeast cake.  I just line up the spigot and pour directly into my keg. No hoses, siphons, funnels, etc. Easy.  The handles are great. You can lift the huge 60L one alone, but it’s really heavy, even with only 11 gallons… there’s lots of room for more, so you could easily make a 12 gallon batch in there too without needing a blowout tube.  Headroom is great on these. With the 20L, it has room for the 5.5 gallon batches I make, and I have no issues with blow-outs, even with big IPAs. NOTE: I do use defoamer, which I think helps a lot. On the 60L, there’s tons of room above an 11 gallon batch. My current batch of amber ale had only about 2 inches of foam and another 6″ of headspace.  There are other cheaper options, and you can find nice HDPE tanks on ebay that are similar, but they won’t have it all together, purpose built like these.

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Brewing More Beer’s Citra Pale Ale

 
Brewing More Beer’s Citra Pale Ale Kit
 

This recipe is built on Rahr Two Row along with some White Wheat, Carapils and a lower lovibond Crystal.  The bittering addition is Magnum followed by Citra, Citra and more Citra.

My Top Find Thermapen (review) checking the grain bill temperature prior to mashing in.
 
Grain and strike water combined in my mash tun
 
Mash thoroughly stirred using my 24″ Stainless Whisk (review).
 
First and second running combined and heating up.
 
Hey, the thermometer on my 10 Gallon Blichmann BoilerMaker says I should be boiling.
 
For drama: about to boil-over.  Notice the 24″ Brewer’s Whisk watching all of this.  Will the injustice of a boil-over happen while this whisk idly sits by?
 
Bam… boil-over averted
 
I came out with a Brix reading of 15.7 on my Atago PAL-1.  That translates to an OG of 1062.8.  I was a little high as the recipe calls for 1.055.  Something I just learned:  I’m told that stated efficiencies of More Beer’s kits are based on grain milled by their shop mill.  They mill a little on the course side and that effects efficiency.  The upside of that you’re less less likely to get a stuck sparge, and less likely to pull tannins.  They also make up for this efficiency loss by including more grain when needed.  Since, I mill my own grain, I got a slightly higher efficiency.  Not a big deal in my book and not an issue at all if you’re getting pre-milled grain.  Next time, maybe I’ll leave out some of the base grain to hit it right on, or… maybe not. :)
 
 I had an odd thing happen with the sight glass on my Boilermaker… it plugged up.  That hasn’t happened before or since.  Fortunately I was able to get a volume reading based on the condensation line on the side of the kettle.
 
In the fermenter
 
 This settled in at 69 deg F.  I chilled it another degree in my fermentation deep freeze and pitched US-05.
 
 Kegging
 
 Straight out of the fermenter
 
The finished beer in a Spiegelau IPA Glass!


Of Citra, Hop Union Says: “Strong citrus and tropical tones of grapefruit, melon, lime, gooseberry, passion fruit and lychee”


I’ve brewed one other Citra Beer.  That recipe was of my own creation.  I had just gotten a pound of Citra and wanted to try it.  That recipe used copious amounts of this hop and it was too much.  Coming away from that beer, I thought, what’s the big deal about Citra, it kind of doesn’t taste great.  More Beer’s Citra kit placed me on the other side of the fence.  With the exception of the bittering addition, this beer is all about Citra down to the dry hopping and it comes off really balanced, tasty and very drinkable.  This was one of those beers that kicked fast… really fast.


This beer is getting all 5 star reviews on More Beer and I can see why.  It’s a great beer.


More Beer’s Citra Pale Ale is Available in Both Extract and All Grain versions.  


Check it out Here

Also Consider: All Sale and Clearance Items

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Deluxe Personal Home Brewery Equipment Kit – $92.65 Shipped + Using this Kit Step by Step


As part of their celebration for Learn to Homebrew Day, More Beer is offering a 10% discount on select ingredient kits.  They are also offering a 15% discount on select equipment kits.  I happen to own one of the discounted equipment kits.. their Deluxe Brewery Kit #2.

Check out an in depth review of that equipment kit along with a step by step processing for brewing a first an extract batch of beer – Here.

It’s a great time to start brewing or add to your capacity!

Personal Home Brewery Kit #2 Deluxe BRKIT2 - $92.65 + free shipping (with PET Carboy Option) – use promo code LEARN2BREW

Check out the full selection of discounted kits and equipment - Here


More from More Beer:

First Looks: Stainless Mini Keg Growler

This Stainless Mini Keg Growler has a 2L Capacity.
 
A silicone o-ring is on the screw top lid
 
Top down
 
For size reference, next to a stainless double wall growler
 
First impressions… this is a great looking and well built stainless growler.  I’m looking forward to giving it a more in depth try soon.
 
Stainless Steel Growler GL530 - $34.95 + Free Shipping with a $59 order
 
 

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Update – Hands On: More Beer’s Plate Filtering Setup

More Beer’s Beer and Wine Plate Filter Kit in action

First… Why would you want to filter your beer?

  1. You want to drink it soon.  During pre-consumption conditioning, a lot of what we’re doing is waiting for stuff to fall out of suspension.  Filtering hastens this process.
  2. You want to transport your kegged beer.  Transporting your beer stirs up anything that’s in the bottom of the keg.  Filtering means you don’t need to worry about stirring a bunch of stuff up.
  3. Clarity.  You’re interested in having great clarity for a particular style of beer.
  4. You have a problem with your beer.  Filtering down to the sterile filter level may remove off flavors.  That’s a maybe.

The process for filtering beer is basically…

  1. Assemble the unit and hook up tubing.
  2. Run 1 gallon of water through the plate filter.
  3. Run Star San through the filter.
  4. Filter your beer.

Instructions say to expect the whole process to take about 45 minutes.  I’d say that’s about right.  The process was a breeze.  I was able to multi task and get other things done around the brewery during this process.

Here is the complete unit with tubing and disconnects


The fasteners on this plate chiller tighten by hand.
Notches are designed to make assembly quick.


One side removed


The center ring.  This takes two filter pads.  One on each side of this ring.


Pads are available in roughpolish and sterile.  You need to work sequentially through these.  Sterile is only recommended in the case that your beer has flaws.  That filter strips quite a bit of out of your beer.  I only used the rough filter in my test.  I was very happy with the clarity that the rough filter produced.


The whole thing sandwiched together

I fermented this 5 gallon batch in a 10 gallon Cornelius keg.  You can see that inside the deep freeze.  I hooked the filter directly up to the fermenter and sent the beer right to the receiving keg.


Here’s the used filter.


Here’s what’s left in the fermenter.


This beer was just sitting on the muck in the bottom of my fermenter


This setup does what’s it supposed to do.  It’s easy to set up and easy to use.  It adds a little bit of time to the kegging process, but you can do other things during that process.  It’s nice to have the option to filter when the situation presents itself.


Update:

Here’s the bottom of the keg after the beer was consumed.  As you can see… no trub at all.


Beer and Wine Plate Filter Kit FIL45B - $69.99 Shipped




Beer and Wine Filter Pad (Sterile) – Pack of Two FIL48 - $3.79

PinnedVac Insulated Growler - Brewing Pliny - Brew Day Box - High Flow March Pump

MoreRecent Finds, More BeerFilteringDraftReviews

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