Category Archives: Tips

GE Handy Switch – for Keg, Carboy and Draft Line Cleaner Pumps – $5.38 + Free Add On Shipping

91TNpIlp8pL._SL1500_

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.

8/13/17 6 AM Central: This highly rated switch is selling for $5.38. 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]:

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

71hCeeqaGeL._SL1500_

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.

Update: Since this post was published the price, availability or promotion has changed.  Check the product page for up to the minute description, price and availability.  Also: Today’s Deals on Amazon

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.

Recent Amazon Finds [view more]:

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

Star San

Star San is my sanitizer of choice.  When mixed properly, 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.

Cleaning, Sanitizing and… Sterilizing
The first step in sanitizing is cleaning.  Cleaning and sanitizing are two separate steps.  Cleaning physically removes dirt and large contaminants.  After your item is physically clean it can be microscopically sanitized.  Sanitization kills many (but not all) germs, bacteria and microorganisms on an already clean surface.  I typically use a mixture of PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) for cleaning.  Sanitizing and Sterilizing are different.  Sterilizing is killing every living thing.  In home brewing typically, we’re not interested in sterilizing, we’re only interested in sanitizing.

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

Fill up a spray bottle with properly diluted Star San solution and you’re good to go.  Liberally coat all surfaces and parts 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.

1 Gallon of Star San – How much Star San do I use for 1 Gallon?
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 thin plastic gallon jugs.  I’ve had it happen and it’s not cool.

Measuring 6 CCs/mLs
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…

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

Testing pH41s3XP8RicL._SX385_
Test your Star San solution to make sure it’s under a pH of 3.  If you source pH test papers for this, make sure they read in that range.  I recommend the Micro Essential Labs strips linked below.  They are also featured in my post on Star San Effectiveness.

pH Strips and Meters…

Spray Bottle
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]

Some spray bottles…

PBW
An important part of sanitizing effectively is starting with something that’s already clean.  I use PBW also from Five Star Chemicals.

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 San

1 Gallon Glass Jug for Star San Storage

Be Careful
Star San is an acid.  You should be careful with Star San, especially in its undiluted form.  It can cause damage to clothing [See: Lesson Learned, Don’t Do This with Star San], countertops, aluminum items and more.  Always read and follow manufacturer’s directions.

What is Star San?
Star San is a self-foaming acid sanitizer ideal for brewing, dairy and other food and beverage equipment. It is an extremely effective bactericide and fungicide and is not affected by excessive organic soils. Star San also reduces water spotting and can be used without rinsing under the proper concentrations. STAR SAN is a blend of phosphoric acid and dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid. This synergistic blend provides a unique killing system that is unaffected by excessive organic soils. STAR SAN is also a self-foaming sanitizer. It can be applied through a foamed to produce self-adhering sanitizing foam for external sanitation. STAR SAN is also an excellent sanitizer for hand application. Sanitizing with STAR SAN on a daily basis will leave equipment in an acid condition that will eliminate water spotting.

Star San Material Safety Data Sheet
StarSanMSDS1 – MSDS Dated 6-6-12

This is a Top Post! See: All Top Posts

Recent Great Deals [view more]:

toppost:starsanspraybottlemethod

How to Fix a Keg That Leaks – 5 Things to Check

New 5 Gallon Corny Keg Ball Lock

Adventures in Homebrewing has a nice step by step write up on fixing keg leaks.  I particularly like #5 “Post O-Rings”.  I find that to be a particularly pesky leak.  I’ve lost at least one full tank of CO2 to a bad oring that cost pennies – See: Checking for Gas QD CO2 Leaks for more on that.

Check out the Step by Step Guide

Also: Kegerator Tips & Gear | Keg Repair Part #s | 5 Recent Keg Finds

Our Top Draft Resources

 

Third Party Resource: This resource is part of our selection of top Third Party homebrewing resources.  Check out the entire list of resources Third Party Homebrew Resources

thirdparty:aihkegleaks

Short On Time? Time Saving Homebrew Tips!

img_img_0908Pictured: Anvil Kettle from my Hands on Review – I use this kettle for small batches

Time can be a big factor when it comes to homebrewing.  Sure, it may be nice to spend sunrise until sunset carefully hand crafting a batch (or batches) of beer, but the practicalities of life can and do factor in when we’re deciding if we can brew a batch of beer.  For your stage of life, time may not be a factor.  If so, that’s awesome.  For others, time saving tips and techniques could help you brew more often.

With those thoughts in mind, I put the call out to the HBF community [8 Ways to Connect with HBF] to get some time saving tips and tricks.  A selection  of those along with some of my own thoughts follows.  Thanks to all who participated!  A full list of contributors is at the end of this post.

How do I save time home brewing? Continue reading

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.

More Keg and Draft Related:

This is a Top Post! See: All Top Posts

Recent Great Deals [view more]:

toppost:keghandlerepair

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.

Related:

This is a Top Post! See: All Top Posts