Category Archives: Tips

Rubbermaid Professional Heavy-Duty Spray Bottle – $4.99 + Sanitizing for Pennies Per Batch

Rubbermaid Professional Plus Heavy-Duty Spray Bottle by Rubbermaid


From the product description, check product page for current description, price and availability:

  • Durable spray bottle has heavy-duty sprayer with adjustable nozzle.
  • Measurements included on side of bottle for chemical portioning in fluid ounces and milliliters.
  • Trigger sprays 3.3 ml per spray.
  • High density polyethylene bottle construction is tough to last a long time.
  • Made in the USA.

Use for cleaning and sanitizing solutions around your home brewery and beyond.  Check out Star San Tips, Tricks and Guidelines – Using Star San In a Spray Bottle – that details the “spray bottle technique” of easily and effectively sanitizing for pennies a batch.

12/12/18 2 AM Central: This is selling for $4.99. Shipping to most US addresses is also free with Prime Membership [Try Prime for Free] or a qualifying order. Price, shipping and availability can change quickly.  Check the product page for current price, description and availability.  Also: Recent Amazon Finds and Amazon Fillers Resource Page

Rubbermaid Professional Plus Heavy-Duty Spray Bottle,32 fl OZ (946ml), (FG6C13PR06)


Also: Star San on Amazon | Star San Tips, Tricks and Guidelines

More: Recent Amazon Finds

12″ x 12″ Interlocking NSF Certified Drying Mats – lots of uses – $4.41 + free add on shipping

San Jamar VM5280 Versa-Mat Interlocking Bar Mat, 12" Length x 12" Width, Clear

12″ by 12″ interlocking bar mat by San Jamar.  These interlocking mats are versatile.  Multiple mats can be joined for larger areas and they are flexible and easy to cut to shape.  Allows for airflow under glassware.  NSF certified.

I purchased a number of these in 2015 and have since found them very handy.  I use them for drying brew day gear and glassware and also underneath my fermenter in my fermentation deep freeze to improve airflow and keep the fermenter out of any condensation that might show up).  I also use this in bottom of my kegerator.  More info on that here – Upgrade Your Kegerator – 6 Improvements

12/10/18/18 7 PM Central: These have dropped to $4.41. Shipping is also free to many US addresses, with a qualifying order, as part of the Amazon’s Add On promotion. Prices, shipping and availability can change quickly. Please note that product prices and availability are subject to change. Prices and availability were accurate at the time this this post was published; however, they may differ from those you see when you visit Amazon. Check the product page for current price, description and availability. Also: Recent Amazon Finds and Amazon Fillers Resource Page

San Jamar VM5280 Versa-Mat Interlocking Bar Mat, 12″ Length x 12″ Width, Clear


Also available in different colors and quantities – search san jamar interlocking bar bat on Amazon

More: Recent Amazon Finds

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Heat Resistant Glove [Minding Yeast Starters & Brew Day] – $5.76 + Free Add On Ship

G & F 1689L Heat Resistant Glove Commercial Grade, Large

G & F Heat Resistant Oven Glove, Large  by G & F


From the product description, check product page for current description, price and availability:

  • Same material used by fire fighters
  • Maintains integrity and strength at high temperatures
  • Thermal regulating
  • Ambidextrous, fits right or left hand
  • Soft and pliable for easy grasp

I use a similar type of glove when I’m making yeast starters in an Erlenmeyer Flask.  It’s really handy (pun intended) to swirl around the flask or to quickly remove to keep the flask from boiling over.  These are also handy on brew day for handling hot (but not wet) ball valves and such.

These are not waterproof.  Safety Note: Always use caution when handling hot items or ingredients and always read and follow manufacturer directions.

12/9/18 12:30 PM Central: These are selling for $5.76. Shipping is also free to many US addresses, with a qualifying order, as part of the Amazon’s Add On promotion. Prices, shipping and availability can change quickly. Please note that product prices and availability are subject to change. Prices and availability were accurate at the time this this post was published; however, they may differ from those you see when you visit Amazon. Check the product page for current price, description and availability. Also: Recent Amazon Finds and Amazon Fillers Resource Page

G & F 1689L Dupont Nomex & Kevlar Heat Resistant Oven Gloves, for BBQ, Fireplace,and Grilling. Commercial Grade, Large, Sold by 1 Piece

Also Available in Medium: G & F 1689M Dupont Nomex® & Kevlar® Heat Resistant Oven Gloves, BBQ Gloves, Fireplace Gloves, Commercial Grade, Medium, Sold by 1 Piece


Related: Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation & Best Sellers in Lab Erlenmeyers – via Amazon | StirStarter Stir Plate | Yeast Starters and Fermentation Resource Page

More: Recent Amazon Finds

Great Deal On – StirStarter Stir Plate

BIAB Brew Day Spreadsheet – Water Calculations + Narrative Directions

Brew in a Bag (BIAB) is a quick, easy and economical way to brew all grain batches of beer.  I released my brew day spreadsheet some time ago along with a version of that to be used for small batch beers.  See below for links.  Either of those could be modified to work with BIAB by changing variables,  This version is specifically designed for full size BIAB batches.

Related: Hands on Review: The Brew Bag – Purpose Made BIAB

How do I use brew day spreadsheets?  First, I do use recipe formulation software.  Some of those programs have brew day components.  I’ve just never gotten into using those features.  For better or worse, I use a spreadsheet.  I make a copy and name it using the batch number and beer name and then quickly plug in the basics.  This creates a one sheet printable page that I can use on brew day.  That gives me a single piece of paper with all of my numbers and a spot for brew day notes.  Notes can go back into the spreadsheet for archival.

Brew Day Sheet (click to enlarge):

homebrew brew in a bag biab spreadsheetThis is the main sheet where you will fill in information about your beer and your mash parameters.

Color Coding: Green Cells are information that you can fill in and Blue/Light Gray Cells are calculated.

General Layout and Flow: Start with Beer Name, Brew Date, Batch Number and 1:Beer Info.  Fill in current grain temp under 2:Strike Water Temperature and step by step directions are populated under 3:BIAB Directions.  Constants on the right hand can be set once for your setup and adjusted as needed.  The bottom section of this sheet contains three calculators explained below.

1:Beer Info: Basic information about your beer and mash profile.

 “Reserve (gallons)” B12 Cell: Allows you to set aside a set number of gallons for sparge, dunking, topping off, etc.  This is subtracted from the total strike water value.  It is assumed that you will add or use this at some point.

“Mash Volume – Can I mash it?”: This field estimates total mash volume including grain and water.  This is an estimate.  The cell turns red if the projected volume of your mash exceeds the size of your mash tun.  This is an adaptation of the formula found on the Green Bay Rackers Calculators Page.

2:Strike Water Temp: Fill in the Beer Info section and your Grain’s current Temperature (cell B5) and the spreadsheet calculates your strike water temperature (cell B6).  Note that the temperature will be offset by the “Undershoot Mash Temp” (cell H7).  Read the constants section for more info on that.

Strike Water Volume: Calculates the amount of water you will need in both quarts and gallons.

Volume Needed – Start of Boil and 15 Minutes Remaining: These sections list required water volume at two important times.  The 15 minute calculation attempts to take into account expansion of wort at boiling.  Take a measurement at 15 minutes and use this figure to correct a low volume.

Constants: The constants section has some variables that you can adjust based on your setup.  For example, I’ve found that grain absorption for my crush is right around .11 gallons/lb.  I think that will be close for you but you can tweak it here if you observe something different.

A note on “Undershoot Mash Temp” – This cell allows you to come in under your desired mash temp.  Why would you want to do that?  It’s easier to ramp up a degree or two vs cool down a degree or two.  This number is subtracted from the calculated Strike Water Temperature recommendation (cell B6).

I suggest reviewing the Constants section to make adjustments for your setup.

3: BIAB Directions: These are narrative step-by-step directions that you can follow after you fill in Beer Info, Grain Temp and Constants.  Note that you can use the table from the “Summary Tab” for on the go adjustments to the strike temp referenced in step 1.

Calculators – The bottom three sections of this tab are calculators.  These calculators can pull from cells in the top portion of the tab, but they do not affect 3:BIAB Directions.

Gravity: This is an adaption of Sean Terrill’s Refractometer Calculator (used by permission).  Thanks Sean for your excellent work on this!

Efficiency: This calculation uses your recipe software’s efficiency setting for a particular recipe along with target gravity to figure efficiency.  That means no re-entering fermentables for every batch.  I figure efficiency when going from the mash tun to the boil kettle.  This is a calculator in the sense that it is standalone and has no bearing on other calculations or cells.

Anytime Gravity Estimate and Correction:  Plug in volume, boil time and gravity figures at any time during your brew day and this calculator will suggest volume and gravity corrections.  Accepts either gravity or Brix (if both are present the Brix value is used).  If you are under volume, I would suggest correcting volume and then re-checking gravity.  This calculator makes no attempt to correct volumes or gravities that are too high.

Summary Sheet (click to enlarge):BIAB Water Calculation Spreadsheet Homebrew

This is setup to print on a regular 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper and gives a rundown of essential brew day tasks and data.  I use this print out on brew day.

Prepare:  This is a simple to do checklist.  You can modify this section as you see fit based on your procedure.

Water Volumes/Gravity:  This projects the volume and gravity you should have at three stages (start of boil, 15 minutes remaining and end of boil).  The last two columns (lb DME/pt and grams) are meant to allow you to easily correct your gravity at those stages.  Each of those amounts should add 1 gravity point to your beer.  Let’s say you’re three points down at the start of the boil.  With the example in this graphic, you would add .42 lbs of DME to correct the gravity of the 6 gallon batch.  Bam… that’s easy!

Hop/Adjunct Schedule: You can choose either grams or ounces.  If you choose ounces it will also be converted to grams.

Strike Temp:  This is a table version of the calculated strike temp found on the brew day sheet.  The initial temperature can be changed.  This changes subsequent values.  If you’re using a summary printout, you can measure the temp of your grain and refer to this chart for the appropriate strike temp.

Log and Notes Sheet (click to enlarge):homebrewing excel spreadsheet

Log: This section is meant to log actions taken on the beer (fermentation temp changes, dry hopping, oak additions, etc).  It calculates the time that has elapsed since brew day, between actions and since the action took place.

Notes: Simple notes section.

Download
This is a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet.  I would suggest running this through your previous calculation methods to double check that all this makes sense for you and to verify constants.  I don’t want you coming back to me and complaining the your double IPA is a Pale Ale because of me. 🙂

Homebrew Finds BIAB Spreadsheet

If you have a question or suggestion for the spreadsheet, send me an email.

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GE Outlet Power Switch [Keg, Carboy and Draft Line Cleaner Pumps] – $5

GE Grounded On/Off Power Switch, Plug-In, White, Energy Efficient, Space Saving Design, UL Listed, 15A, 120VAC, 1800W, 25511

GE Grounded On/Off Power Switch


From the product description, check product page for current description, price and availability:

  • Power Switch – Create an on/off switch in an electronic without one with the GE Grounded Outlet Power Switch
  • Easy Install – Plug the desk lamp, indoor string lights or Christmas lights on the tree into the adapter and then plug into your outlet for quick installation
  • Compatibility – This outlet switch works with lamps or other small electronics that have no on/off switch or the switch is hard to reach
  • Rating— The outlet adapter is UL Listed, and has an electrical rating of 15A, 120VAC, and 1800W
  • Trusted Brand – GE is a top brand in power strips, surge protectors and outlet adapters

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.  Always exercise caution when dealing with electricity or hot objects and materials.

What are others saying?  Search this product’s Amazon reviews for “pump”

12/8/18 6 AM Central: This is selling for just $5. Shipping is also free to many US addresses, with a qualifying order, as part of the Amazon’s Add On promotion. Prices, shipping and availability can change quickly. Please note that product prices and availability are subject to change. Prices and availability were accurate at the time this post was published; however, they may differ from those you see when you visit Amazon. Check the product page for current price, description and availability. Also: Recent Amazon Finds and Amazon Fillers Resource Page

GE Grounded On/Off Power Switch, Plug-In, White, Energy Efficient, Space Saving Design, UL Listed, 15A, 120VAC, 1800W, 25511


Also: Build 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)

More: Recent Amazon Finds


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Tip: Using a Heating Mat To Help Maintain Fermentation Temps

Heating Mat Lerway Heat Pad Waterproof for Seed Starter Germination Hydroponic Seedling,Greenhouse,Reptile,Plant (10" x 20.75" 110V 21W)Pictured: Heating Mat Lerway Heat Pad Waterproof for Seed Starter Germination Hydroponic Seedling,Greenhouse,Reptile,Plant (10″ x 20.75″ 110V 21W) – Note: This is an example of a waterproof heating mat, not the exact one I use

I’ve used a heating mat in my fermentation chest freezer for years.  Most of these don’t provide a whole lot of heating capacity.  Which, in my book, is great.  The one I use is well under 20 watts.  That has no trouble raising my fermentation chest freezer (located in my basement) by several degrees.  I use this throughout the year whenever I want to push fermentation temperatures higher.  I do not set my fermenter on the mat.  I simply set it in the chest freezer, thereby warming up the ambient air inside the fermentation chamber.

Over the years, I’ve used this with both a single and a two stage temp controller.  This has the effect of making a single stage temp controller into a dual stage controller.  The heating mat continuously heats the ambient air and the temp controller/chest freezer act to correct that as it gets too warm.  See Homebrew Hack: Mimicking Dual Stage Temp Control with a Single Stage Controller for additional details on that.

This process is more efficient with a two stage controller.  The controller cycles on each stage, cooling or heating, as needed.  If you’re in the market, check out the ITC-308

Beyond getting the appropriate wattage for your setup, I would also recommend getting a waterproof model.  Not that you want to have these around water, but it’s nice to have some moisture resistance, especially when fermentation chambers can get humid.

If you’re in the market, try this search on Amazon – “waterproof heat mat”

Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions.

Also: Yeast Starters and Fermentation | Maintaining Fermentation Temps in Colder Weather


Related: Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation & Best Sellers in Lab Erlenmeyers – via Amazon | StirStarter Stir Plate | Yeast Starters and Fermentation Resource Page

Recent Great Deals [view more]:

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Small Batch, All Grain Stove Top Brewing + Water Calculation Spreadsheet

I periodically brew small (1-3) gallon all grain batches of beer on my stove top.  Some reasons I do that… 1.  The weather – it’s too cold, too hot or too something else, 2.  Time or 3.  I want to test something.  It’s a fun, simple, quick and economical way to brew all grain with minimal investment.

For the extract brewer, what kind of gear is needed to accomplish this amazing feat?  A comprehensive list follows…

Continue reading

Avery 5410 – 600 x 1″ Round Printable Labels – Great size for labeling beer caps – $3.15

Avery Self-Adhesive Removable Labels, 1-Inch Diameter, White, Pack of 600 (5410)

Avery 1″ Round Multi Use Labels.  600 total labels.


  • Labels stick, stay and remove cleanly without leaving a residue
  • Ideal for drawers, containers, boxes, shelves and other smooth surfaces
  • Pack of 600 Labels

1″ round labels work really well for labeling beer caps.  Labeling caps works especially well if you’re planning to reuse the bottle.  There is no work involved in removing old labels before next use.

These are printable labels so you can create some nice looking labels.  Avery offers free templates for popular software including Microsoft Word as well as free online design and print tool.

10/18/18 1 PM Central: These are selling for just $3.15. Shipping is also free to many US addresses, with a qualifying order, as part of the Amazon’s Add On promotion. Prices, shipping and availability can change quickly. Please note that product prices and availability are subject to change. Prices and availability were accurate at the time this this post was published; however, they may differ from those you see when you visit Amazon. Check the product page for current price, description and availability.

Avery Self-Adhesive Removable Labels, 1-Inch Diameter, White, Pack of 600 (5410)


Also: GrogTag Deals and Coupons

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Bus Tubs for Brew Day & Beyond – Save Time and Effort When You Homebrew

Bus Tubs HomebrewBus Tubs for Brew Day – A bus tub with a Rubbermaid Commercial High Temp Pitcher [Review] and my Brew Day Whisk [Review].

I use two of these commercial bus tubs on brew day and I find them invaluable.  I use them to cart around brew gear and ingredients – saving trips back and forth which saves effort and time.

As brew day starts, I’ll keep a dry/clean bus tub and a wet/needs to be cleaned bus tub.  Having two helps me keep clean things clean.  That means less unnecessary cleaning.

If I’m using my pump, I’ll keep one below that.  It catches drips and also offers a place to store wet items such as stirring spoons, mash paddles, my mash stirring whisk and my equally invaluable 1 gallon pitchers.

Beyond brew day these are handy for storage and aid with cleaning and sanitizing other homebrew gear.

Rubbermaid Commercial Products FG335100GRAY 7-1/8-Gallon Gray Undivided Bus/Utility Box – via Amazon


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Tip: Dissolving Dry Malt Extract More Easily – Hot or Cold Water?

Pictured: 3 lbs Briess Golden Light Dry Malt Extract (DME) via Amazon

This is a quick and simple tip… Dry Malt Extract dissolves more easily into cold water than it does into hot water.  That seems a little counter-intuitive to me, but I’ve found it to be true.  It seems to clump up a lot less and just generally dissolve more easily.  I can’t take credit for this one, I heard it from John Palmer author of How to Brew.

Also: Briess – Dry Malt Extract – Golden Light – 3 lbs – via Amazon

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