Category Archives: Top Posts

Tip: Checking for Draft System CO2 Leaks – the Pressure Gauge Method

cln_img_0274Pictured: Spunding Valve – See: Build a Spunding Valve

The standard method of checking for kegerator CO2 leaks seems to be… spray everything with Star San solution (diluted of course) and look for bubbles.  That’s a great technique.

There is one place that this method does really work on…. the keg’s gas post.  That spot is only in play when your gas QD is engaged.  The kicker is… when the gas QD is on, you can’t see underneath it to check for bubbles.

The “pressure gauge method” can check the entire including gas QD connection and any connected tubing without soaking everything and the resulting clean up.

My process for that…

  • Charge your keg with CO2 as usual.  Use your usual serving pressure.  Overpressurizing can mask leaks that may otherwise show appear.
  • Remove the CO2 line and replace with a pressure gauge or Spunding Valve.
  • I mark the current pressure with a wax pencil, or you can just remember what it reads
  • Wait for a couple hours to overnight to see if the gauge drops.
  • If it drops quickly, there is a leak someplace in the system.  Note: If your keg has beer in it that is uncarbonated the pressure will drop some overnight (it is equalizing and carbonating the beer).  What you don’t want is a quick drop in pressure.
  • This tests technique tests the entire keg including the gas post, o-ring, QD and any tubing that’s connected.
  • In my experience, over long periods of time there will be some slow gauge movement.  I don’t know if these are micro leaks or temperature realted, but I’m not really concerned with that, I am looking for a relatively quick drop in pressure.  Something that shows up within a couple hours.

This technique also has the advantage of saving Star San and saving some clean up that’s required when you soak gear in Star San.

If the CO2 gauge method indicates a leak, you can start spraying Star San at that point.  If you cannot find the leak, I would suggest changing your gas post o-ring to see if that’s the culprit.

This is one of the uses of a Spunding Valve – See: Build a Spunding Valve.  You can also buy a gauge [Ball Lock QD Adjustable Pressure Valve W/Gauge] or make a gauge assembly for this purpose.

Related Gear and Resources…

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Finding the “Conan Strain” of Yeast – Vermont IPA

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If you’re looking to use the “Vermont IPA” Strain of yeast to take a swing at brewing something like Alchemist Brewing’s Heady Topper, I think you have some yeast options.

It’s my understanding that these homebrew yeast options are the “Conan” strain of yeast….

  • Omega Yeast Lab’s Double IPA Yeast OYL-052 DIPA – About: “Ale strain isolated from a famous double IPA brewed in Vermont. Produces a unique ester profile reminiscent of peaches. This strain complements an aggressive use of hops”.  There is a common thought that this is mostly likely the Conan Strain that’s used for The Alchemists Heady Topper.
  • GigaYeast Double Pitch – Vermont IPA Yeast GY054 – About: “The Vermont IPA strain from Giga has a strong, growing following if you search the web. The problem is the supply has not been able to keep up with demand. MoreBeer! worked with Giga to get all they could produce and was able to offer this product via mail order delivery (it is not yet in our retail stores). We are excited because we know you are going to love it. As the name suggests this yeast is perfect in IPA’s where it leaves a beer with more body and a slight fruity ester. What really makes it stand out is that is known for being amazing when combined with aromatic hops. While perfect for IPAs it is also a good choice for any high gravity beers and hoppy styles. Broad temperature range and moderate flocculation make this yeast a versatile house strain.”
  • The Yeast Bay Vermont Ale – About: “Isolated from a uniquely crafted double IPA out of the Northeastern United States, this yeast produces a balanced fruity ester profile of peaches and light citrus that complements any aggressively hopped beer. Expect this strain to take off fast and ferment wort quickly, though elevating the temperature following the bulk of fermentation may be required to raise the attenuation.”
  • Imperial Organic Yeast – Barbarian

If you’re looking for a homebrew clone recipe kit, MoreBeer’s “Topped with Hops” is available in both all grain and extract.

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About Topped With Hops: “Based off of one of the most exceptional east coast beers (in our humble opinion) on the market, this double IPA instantly became one of our favorite ingredient kits! Our version of a Heady Topper clone recipe is packed with almost a pound of hops, and is definitely a beer that will have hopheads in hopheaven.

One of the first things we noticed when pouring this beer into the pint glass was the aroma. With a dry hop addition consisting of Amarillo, Apollo, Centennial, Columbus, and Simcoe, we weren’t necessarily surprised. Impressed is more like it. A balanced malt profile helps to tame the bitterness, allowing the hop flavor and aroma to be the true star in this recipe.”

AlsoFinding East Coast Yeast | Yeast Starters & Fermentation | StirStarter Stir Plate | Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation

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Tip: Some Thoughts About… Homebrew Shop Sales Timing and Traffic Patterns

When is the best time (price-wise) to buy something?  I would say the answer (generally speaking)… is when you don’t want it.  Winter coats are the cheapest when winter is over because nobody wants them.  Holiday decorations are drastically marked down after the holidays.  Retailers make these decisions because demand is low.

After running Homebrew Finds for years and years, I can tell you that there are some patterns that seem to repeat themselves.  I’m not going to share everything, not that you would want to hear it, but I will share a couple snippets with you.

  1.  Traffic drops a bit toward the end of the week going into the following week…  Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Yet, many homebrew shops run sales during this exact time period.  Why?  I think it’s a mix.  Mostly retailers understand that their sales traffic and sales volume tend to drop off, so to counteract that, they run sales during this slower time.
  2. Summer months are slower than fall, winter and spring.  People aren’t homebrewing as much.  It’s hot in many places and people are taking vacations and enjoying the good weather.

Why does this matter? Some homebrew shops recognize this pattern and basically sit out the summer.  Their thinking is… why fight it?  Others continue to repeat the same things regardless of time of year.  Still others recognize this pattern and offer some of their best offers during the summer time or toward the end of the week.  It’s that reason that I’m telling you about this.  I think you should Connect With Us and read Homebrew Finds on a regular basis.  If you want to maximize savings be prepared to purchase gear and ingredients that you won’t actually use until “brewing season” kicks back up.

There are 8 Ways to Connect with HBF!

If you’re a homebrew shop proprietor reading this… I’m not saying to move all of your sales to the weekend or to the summer.  Don’t do that.  For the reasons I’ve outlined above… numerically speaking, those aren’t the best times to run sales.  Of course, that depends on your goal.  If you’re looking to stir up traffic during a slow time, then, yep, go for it.  My general guidance would be come out to play often – early week, mid week, end of the week and every month of the year.  If you aren’t playing…  someone else is.  If you’d like some specific guidance from me or you’d to just to chat about the homebrew industry… I’d love to talk!  Send me an email.

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Tip: MoreBeer, MoreWine and MoreCoffee Combined Cart & Promotions

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You probably know this, but… MoreBeer sells homebrew, winemaking and coffee roasting supplies under three websites.  MoreBeer, MoreWine and MoreCoffee.  Although there is some overlap, selection and promotions do vary.  As an example, you can buy green coffee beans and roasting equipment on MoreBeer, but the selection on MoreCoffee is wider.

Here’s a tip… If you log in to each site (the same username and password work on all sites) your cart will follow you and you can make a combined order across all three.  That means you can combine multiple orders together to qualify for free shipping!  Many times, but not always, one website’s coupons work at the other website.  Since the shared cart accepts multiple coupon codes, you can get in on the MoreWine Deal of the Week AND the MoreBeer Deal of the Day!  And… bundle that with free shipping!

MoreBeer | MoreWine | MoreCoffee

MoreBeer Daily Deal | MoreBeer Sale Items | MoreWine Weekly Deal | MoreWine Sale

Also Consider… All Sale and Clearanc53_1449191776e Items

Recent MoreBeer Finds [Show All]:

Navigating & Connecting with Homebrew Finds

Connect with Us!  Connect with Homebrew Finds

Resource Pages

Most Recent – A curated selection of our 5 most recent Finds key categories

Looking for something on Homebrew Finds?

  • There is a search box in the upper right hand corner of every page.  Type in your search term and click the search button.
  • A little farther down on the right hand side of the screen, there is a drop down box that displays a complete list of categories.  Looking for recent posts related to Grain Mills?  Go ahead and select the Grain Mill Category. 🙂  You can also navigate to related categories by clicking the links at the bottom of each post.  For example, this post on the Cereal Killer Grain Mill is tagged with a number of Categories including – Adventures in Homebrewing, All Grain, Grain Mills, Great Deals and Reader Feedback.  Click on category at the bottom of each post and you’ll see all recent posts for that Category.
  • Google Search Homebrew Finds.  Use Google’s Site Parameter – Here – Just put your search terms in right after site:www.homebrewfinds.com
  • Ask Me!  If you’re tried the above and still can’t find something you’re looking for Contact Me and I’ll give it a try.

CO2 Tank Tips – New or Used & Tank Size

1737Pictured: 20 lb CO2 Tank from MoreBeer

New or Used?  Do you have a local spot to get your CO2 tank refilled or does your local provider swap empty tanks for full?  If you have a vendor that refills tanks, that’s likely your best bet.  In that case new or used tanks can make sense.  If your vendor swaps out tanks, I recommend considering a good used CO2 tank.  Don’t buy a new CO2 tank unless you’re certain that you have a good local source that will refill tanks.  It doesn’t make any sense to buy a shiny new tank and then swap it out for a used tank right away.

Get a big CO2 tank.  At my supplier, it costs around $20 to swap out an empty 5 lb tank.  It costs around $25 to swap out an empty 20 lb tank.  It’s more than 3 times the cost to refill the smaller tank!  With the example prices, 20 lbs of CO2 would cost $80 with a 5 lb tank vs $25 for a 20 lb tank.  That’s a $55 savings.  I recommend getting as large of a CO2 tank as you can for your space.  This will pay for itself in both in time and money.

CO2 Tanks: Search at Amazon | at Adventures in Homebrewing | at MoreBeer 5 lb and 20 lb

AlsoKegerator Tips & Gear | Keg Repair Part #s | 5 Recent Keg Finds | Build A Recirculating Draft Line Cleaning Pump | Mark II Keg and Carboy Cleaner Draft Line Cleaning Pump Conversion

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Stainless Steel Fittings, Disconnects and Ball Valves – Part Numbers and Sources

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Here is a rundown of sources and part numbers for some of the parts and pieces you may need to put together your system, including fittings, ball valves, tri-clamps, camlocks, bulkheads and more.  Generally speaking, as homebrewers, we use 1/2″ fittings to connect things together.  Most of these fittings and sources feature 1/2″ although other sizes may be available.

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