Category Archives: Tips

Repairing Loose Cornelius Keg Handles and Bases

Pictured: Loose Handle/Bottom Ball Lock Keg via Adventures in Homebrewing

This technique comes via Facebook friend Jason Connect with HBF on Facebook].  Thank you Jason!

Jason’s technique for repairing loose handles on Cornelius kegs:

  • Use automotive brake cleaner to clean the metal and rubber.
  • Scuff both the metal and rubber with an emery cloth.
  • Get an appropriate adhesive that works with rubber and metal.  Consider: 3M 08008 Black Super Weatherstrip Adhesive via Amazon.   HBF Reader Scott says Gorilla Glue also works great for this: “Gorilla Glue works great for reattaching rubber keg parts. It’s an expanding polyurethane so it really gets in there and grabs.” Thanks Scott!
  • Reattach the handle using the adhesive.  Follow the product specific instructions for application and curing.

Another option (again from Jason) is to do the prep work on the keg and ask your local windshield repair shop to apply their adhesive.  They use a very strong urethane adhesive that should work great.

Note: Always read and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

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Tips and Gear for Growler Filling

Pictured: Stanley Vacuum Insulated Growler via Amazon – Review

Filling a growler or small draft dispenser from your draft setup is an easy and straightforward process.  Here are some tips and tools for making this as easy and efficient as possible.

  1. Start with a clean growler.  Use some growler cleaning tabs, PBW or your favorite homebrewing cleanser.  Refrain from using dish soaps and the like.  Thoroughly rinse your growler after cleaning.  If you’re not going to use it right away, let it air dry.  I always store my growlers with the cap off.  Starting with a clean growler is important for general cleanliness and food safety, but it also makes filling your growler easier.  Spots and such can serve as nucleation points causing unnecessary foam during the fill.
  2. A warm growler can lead to excessive foaming.  Start with a cold growler.  I suggest putting your growler directly in your kegerator so it’s the same temperature as your beer.  This will help to reduce foaming.
  3. Having a wet growler also helps reduce foam.  Put properly mixed Star San solution in your growler prior to chilling, swirl it around to coat all surfaces and discard just prior to filling.  If you’ll be drinking the growler right away, you can skip the Star San and just use fresh, cold tap water.
  4. Turn down the pressure.  Serving pressure is generally around 10 PSI, depending on how your system is tuned.  That makes for too quick of a fill and too much foam.  Turn down the pressure on your CO2 regulator to 3 or 4 psi to fill your growler slowly.  Remember to purge keg headspace after decreasing your regulator’s PSI setting.
  5. Affix a growler filler or length of tubing to your faucet.  If you’re using picnic taps a 3/8″ ID section of tubing should fit nicely on the end of your taps.  If you’re using a Perlick style faucet, a section of 1/2″ ID tubing should fit on your faucet.  Make sure the tubing is long enough to hit the bottom of the growler.  Filling from the bottom up should reduce oxygen pickup and foaming.
  6. As your beer gets close to the top lower the growler to withdraw the tubing and top up.
  7. A slight overfill can be a good thing.  When you close or cap on foam the head space is purged with CO2.  Have a clean towel or rag available to clean up the excess and any spills.

To purge or not to purge.  Purging your growler with CO2 can be a good way to decrease oxidation and keep your beer tasting fresh longer.  If your growler will be consumed right away (I’d say within a day or two), purging with CO2 probably won’t be worth it.  If it will be a while before the growler is consumed purging with CO2 would be a good thing.  If you’re going to do that I suggest doing it after you turn down your CO2 pressure.  I use my CO2 utility line (link below) for purging growlers.

Growler Fillers: These allow you to easily attach a length of tubing to your faucet for the purpose of filling a growler.  They can just as easily be used to fill a small kegging system or small keg.  Just use a longer piece of tubing.

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GE Handy Switch – for Keg, Carboy and Draft Line Cleaner Pumps – $5.49

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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.

6/20/17 11 AM Central: This highly rated switch is selling for $5.49. 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)

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Wallpaper Tray – $10.88 + Tip: Use a Wallpaper Prep Tray for cleaning, sanitizing and storage

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I use a wallpaper try to clean and sanitize longer items like racking canes, auto-siphons, spoons, tubing and beverage out dip tubes.  It works great.

These also work well for storing longer items.  If you’re going to store things in these, I would recommend stacking a couple together to give them some extra strength.

6/16/17 1 PM Central: These are selling for $10.88. 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 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.

Zinsser 98030 30-Inch Wallpaper Prep Tray

Note: You can often find these for a good price at your local hardware or home improvement center.

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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.

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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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