Category Archives: Tips

Making a Utility CO2 Line using Luer Lock Disconnects

Luer Lock are an inexpensive and effective disconnect system.  I think these are typically used in the healthcare industry, Luer Locks provide a solid, pressure capable connection with a quick twist.

You could use Luer Locks throughout your primary disconnect system throughout your kegerator CO2 system if you wanted to.

I used valved QDs for most of my keg lines, see below, and Luer Locks to operate a “utility” CO2 line.  One of my CO2 lines has a female Luer Lock on it.  I have a selection of attachments that consist of: The attachment, 5 inches or so of CO2 line and a male Luer Lock.

With this setup I can easily swap out more specialized attachments that don’t typically need to be hooked up all the time.

Tip: In my experience it can be difficult to get tubing onto  Luer Locks.  If you have this problem, try soaking your tubing in warm/hot water.

My attachments include (from top to bottom in the picture above):

  • A picnic tap.  I put a length of tubing on the end of this and use it to flush receiving vessels with CO2.
  • A Cornelius gas quick disconnect: Use this line to pressurize and serve a keg as you would any other line.
  • A Cornelius liquid quick disconnect: Use this line to flush a keg with CO2 from the bottom up through the liquid out dip tube.
  • A standard 1/4″ female flare fitting.  I use this to hook up my Blichmann Beer Gun among other things.
  • A Ball Lock Cornelius post.  When I transfer from my fermenter or from keg to keg, this attachment allows me to purge the entire length of tubing, disconnects and the receiving keg (from the bottom up) via the liquid out dip tube.  I used several fittings to accomplish this, but an easier and cheaper option is now available.  See below.
  • A Kent Soda Cap disconnect.  Kent Systems QDs at MoreBeer

Other options include:

  • An air compressor blow gun to flush our carboys and more with CO2 (I’m using the aforementioned picnic tap for this)
  • A length of CO2 line to easily extend your CO2 runs.
This is a picture of the CO2 line I use with these utility attachments.

Luer Lock Connectors:  These have 1/4″ barbs.

Other parts that may be helpful:

Luer Lock connectors are not what I would call “quick disconnects” meaning that they are not valved to allow easy disengagement while pressure is turned on.  You need to turn off CO2 pressure to disengage these.  Tip: If you’re using these for kegs, disconnect the ball lock gas QD before you disconnect your Luer Lock.  This will prevent the keg from emptying itself of CO2.

Of course you could use all valved QDS or all Luer Locks in your kegerator setup.  I use a hybrid approach.  Valved QDs for most of my lines and Luer Locks for these utility attachments.

Valved QDs:

Make sure the fittings and disconnects you use on your system are properly rated for your application.  If you have questions about the appropriateness of an item for an application, contact the manufacturer.

Star San Tips, Tricks and Guidelines – Using Star San In a Spray Bottle

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Star San is my sanitizer of choice.  It’s food safe and no rinse.  Required contact time is one minute.  It has worked very well for me for quite some time and I’m convinced that it’s one of the most economical solutions available if you use the spray bottle method outlined here.  I’ve used a single 32 oz bottle for years.  Like 5+ years.

How long is Star San good for?
Star San (diluted sanitizing solution) needs to remain under pH 3 AND be crystal clear.  If your solution of Star San gets cloudy, according to Five Star, it may not be effective.  Hard water will make the solution go cloudy quickly.  If this is happening to you, use distilled water.

Some will say that the clear part is not important.  Here’s the information I’ve gotten from Five Star Chemicals on that:  “The cloudy solution could be okay, but it could be bad. The cloudiness is the surfactant coming out of solution. It has reacted, or is reacting with the metals in the water. I don’t know if it is still good, because I don’t know how much surfactant has reacted. I error on the side of caution and suggest that you don’t even mess with it. Use DI water.

So, as long as it’s clear and the pH is below 3 it’s effective.  Related: Testing Star San Effectiveness

Cleaning, Sanitizing and… Sterilizing
The first step in sanitizing is cleaning.  Cleaning and sanitizing are two separate steps.  Cleaning gets the physical dirt off, sanitizing kills (many, not all) of germs on an already clean surface.  I typically use a mixture of PBW for cleaning.  Sterilizing is killing everything.  Typically, we’re not interested in sterilizing, we’re only interested in sanitizing.  I use a syringe to dose Star San.

1 Gallon of Star San
I mix up one gallon of Star San at a time.  Just add 6 CCs of Star San to one gallon of distilled or soft water.  How did I come up with 6 CC/ml?  Dosing rate for Star San is 1 ounce per 5 gallons.  That’s .2 ounces for 1 gallon.  .2 ounces = 5.91 ml.  I round that up to 6 CC/ml.

I use a glass gallon jug for storage.  It takes a while but Star San will eat through plastic gallon jugs.  I’ve had it happen and it’s not cool.

The Spray Bottle Method
The key is using what you need.  That fact of the matter is… there’s no need to submerge your equipment in gallons of this stuff.  The middle of your carboy does not need to be sanitized.  Just the surfaces do.

Fill up a spray bottle and you’re good to go.  Liberally coat surfaces in need of sanitizing.  If you have a larger job, like a keg or a carboy, use what you need to sanitize (already clean items) and pour the Star San mixture back in the gallon jug for re-use.  That’s it.  Spray liberally, let stand and drain any excess.

Measuring 6 CCs/mLs10 CC Luer Lock Syringes

I use a syringe to measure the 6 CCs needed.  I’ve used a couple different models over the years.  Some with luer locks and some without.  If you get some with luer lock connections, there’s no need to put anything on the luer lock.

Some syringes…

Spray Bottle  31oRQjzJdPL._SX425_As mentioned previously, Star San can dissolve plastic over time.  The ACC130 is a professional quality, chemical resistant bottle and sprayer.  Check out my [Hands on Review]

Chemical Guys ACC130 Professional Chemical Guys Chemical Resistant Heavy Duty Bottle and Sprayer – 32 oz.

Also ConsiderRubbermaid 32oz Heavy-Duty Spray Bottle

 

PBW  An important part of sanitizing effectively is starting with something that’s already clean.  I use PBW.11054

Unlike Star San, I go through a lot of PBW.  Under the premise of, buy things in bulk that you use in bulk, I suggest buying the largest size of PBW that makes sense for your budget.

Star San15412

 

1 Gallon Glass Jug for Star San Storage8158

 

Testing pH41s3XP8RicL._SX385_

If you want to test your Star San solution to make sure it’s under 3 make sure your pH test papers or meter read in that range.

Recent Great Deals [more]:

toppost:starsanspraybottlemethod tag:resourceupdates

Portable Draft Beer Serving Options!

Pictured: William’s Brewing Mini CO2 Regulator

Looking for options to serve your draft beer home brew on the go?  Here’s a roundup of some of the available options for your next tailgate, party or get together.

Included in this Post:

  • Growlers
  • Carbonation Caps – used with PET Bottles
  • Small Draft Systems
  • Tips and Tools for Filling Growlers and Small Draft Containers
  • Techniques and equipment for dispensing full corny kegs of beer
  • Portable Kegs and Systems
  • Coolers and Ice Packs
  • Other Issues: Chilling and Cloudiness

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GE Handy Switch – for Keg, Carboy and Draft Line Cleaner Pumps – $5.35

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GE 25511 Grounded Power Switch.  Grounded and polarized.  I use a similar switch for switching on and off my Mark II Keg and Carboy Cleaner and Recirculating Draft Line Cleaning Pump.  You could also use it to control your March Pump on brew day.  Always read and follow manufacturer’s directions.  I recommend using a GFCI Outlet when dealing with pumps and water.

5/22/17 8 AM Central: This highly rated switch is selling for $5.35. Shipping to most US addresses is also free, with a qualifying order, as part of the Amazon’s Add On promotion. Price, shipping and availability can change quickly. Check the product page for up to the minute price and availability.  See Recent Amazon Finds and our Amazon Fillers Resource Page to help you put together an order that qualifies for free shipping.

GE 25511 Handy Grounded Power Switch White, New Version of GE 52149

AlsoBuild A Recirculating Draft Line Cleaning Pump | Mark II Keg and Carboy Cleaner Draft Line Cleaning Pump Conversion | Review: Mark II Keg and Carboy Washer | MLCS 9089 Billy Pedal Foot Switch, 2 Step ON/OFF(Continuous Running)

Recent Amazon Finds [view more]:

New Tips & Tricks: Mash & Boil System from William’s Brewing [$299.99]

New from William’s Brewing – Mash and Boil.

About… “Do you want to get into mashing but want something simple? The patent pending Brewer’s Edge® Mash & Boil makes it easy. No need for an outdoor burner, complicated brewing stand, or a 220 volt special circuit – it plugs into any 110 volt GFI household outlet. The Mash and Boil’s exclusive double wall stainless construction conserves heat to achieve a rolling boil with only 110 volts and 1600 watts, and its precise thermostat and internal sparging basket lets you mash and boil in the same vessel.

A typical brew day with the Mash & Boil begins with formulating your 5 gallon all grain recipe (up to 16 pounds of crushed grain can be mashed), and then heating your strike water to 162° F, the preset heat temperature. After 40 minutes or so, your strike water is 162° F, and you mix your crushed grain into the sparging basket already inside the Mash and Boil. The mash will cool to 152° or so, and then you set your thermostat to 150°, cover, and let mash for 1 hour. During this mash time you will need to separately heat 3 gallons of sparge water to 175° in a separate pot you provide. A thermometer hole is provided in the lid, in case you want to monitor the temperature of the top of the mash with any long probe analog or digital thermometer.

After one hour, lift the sparging bucket and lock on its included legs, and let the malt sugar drip into your Mash & Boil, which has now became a boiling pot. Turn the thermostat up to 218° F. and give it about 40 minutes to heat to a boil. During this time, ladle one gallon of hot sparge water at a time into the top of the sparging basket until you get to 5½ gallons. Now remove the grain basket, and when the boil begins, add your hops as per your recipe. Boil for 1 hour, and then cool with a suitable wort chiller (not included, our item E81 works well as does any immersion chiller that is up to 11″ in diameter). Or use the stainless valve with ½” hose barb to run the wort through your external chiller.

The Mash & Boil features an adjustable thermostat (switchable from Fahrenheit to Centigrade) with an adjustable run time preset at 3½ hours for safety. It also features a delayed start timer, so you can program the Mash and Boil to turn on up to 24 hours after setting. For example, load it with strike water, and have it set to be hot when you come home from work to save time. Intended for 5 gallon batches, maximum capacity is 7½ gallons. 28” tall closed, 40” tall with basket, 14” wide. A 5′ power cord is included.”

As of this posting, this is selling for just $299.99.  This bundles with William’s Free Pair of Nucleated Pints Promo. Check William’s Brewing for up to the minute price, description and availability.  Also, check out the product page for the full manual.

Brewer’s Edge Mash & Boil

William’s Brewing has released a tips and tips article that discussing maximizing efficiency and handling error codes

Visit William’s Brewing – Web Only Clearance Sale

Recent William’s Brewing Finds [more]:

5% Back at Adventures in Homebrewing via Rewards Program

Adventures in Homebrewing offers the equivalent of 5% back through their rewards program.  You’ll get the equivalent of 5% back to use toward a future purchase.

This is handy for every day purchases on gear and ingredients, but it’s also a nice de facto discount on lines that are subject to MAP (minimum advertised pricing) like Blichmann and others.

This 5% back also stacks with other sales including items on AIH Sales Page

Rewards Program | AIH Sales Items

AIH is also offering free shipping on most major Blichmann items including… BoilerMaker G2 KettlesFermenator Conicals, TopTier Brew Stands (includes all configured options),

Updated: Build a Spunding Valve! – 3 Ways

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A Spunding Valve allows you to maintain a set pressure.  If pressure in the pressure vessel exceeds the set point, it is expelled.

Some homebrewing applications…

  1. Pressurized fermentation.  Ferment in a 5 or 10 gallon corny keg and use your Spunding Valve instead of an airlock.  This allows you to ferment at your desired pressure.
  2. Dry hop under pressure.  This allows you to dry hop earlier while reducing oxygenation.  Active yeast are more likely to metabolize oxygen that’s introduced during dry hopping during active fermentation.  Since CO2 is not exiting beer as vigorously under pressure, wanted compounds, flavors and aromas are more likely to stay in your beer under pressure.
  3. Naturally and accurately carbonate beer right in the keg.
  4. An airlock replacement.  Keep the valve wide open for non-pressurized fermentations.  Only do this if you have plenty of head space.  This wouldn’t make a great blow off tube.
  5. Keg to keg transfers.  Use the Spunding Valve to allow excess gas to exit the receiving keg as you transfer under pressure.  Helps you achieve a slow, controlled and pressurized transfer.
  6. Fix over-carbonated beers.  Use the same general process as for carbonation (skipping the addition of fermentable sugar).  Use a carbonation chart to determine proper pressure for the temperature the keg is at.  The Spunding Valve allows excess pressure to vent until the new carbonation level is achieved.  You can agitate the keg to fix carbonation more quickly.
  7. Test for keg leaks.  Pressurize your keg to serving pressure.  Put the Spunding Valve on (with the pressure set well above your serving PSI) and note the reading.  The gauge should remain steady.  If pressure drops, you know you have a keg leak.  It’s worth noting that this checks the entire keg including gas body o-ring.  That spot is hard to check and other way as it’s only in function when the gas QD is on.  When the gas QD is on… it’s difficult to spray and check for bubbles underneath the gas QD.  Thanks to Scott Janish for this tip!
  8. As an airlock for long term aging of beers.  Airlocks can run dry over time.  A Spunding Valve will not.  Thanks to Twitter Follower [Connect with HBF on Twitter] @BionicBrewing for this tip!

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