Category Archives: Top Posts

Mark II Keg & Carboy Cleaner… As a Recirculating Draft Line Cleaning Pump!


The Mark II Keg and Carboy Washer [Review] can clean a lot of your homebrewing gear.  Kegs, Carboys, Speidel Fermenters, Tubing, Small Parts & Pieces, Buckets, Keggles and more.

A small hardware purchase can convert your Keg and Carboy Washer over to an efficient ball lock draft line cleaning pump.

Cue drumroll.  And… It’s this thing…

Free shipping Stainless steel Carbonation Cap w/ 5/16" Barb, Ball Lock Type, fit soft drink PET bottles, Homebrew Kegging
Stainless steel Carbonation Cap w/ 5/16″ Barb, Ball Lock Type, fit soft drink PET bottles, Homebrew Kegging

It’s a stainless steel ball lock carbonator cap that is typically intended to use with 1L and 2L PET (soda type) bottles for force carbing and transporting beer (soda, etc).  Why does it include a barb?  I have no idea, but it comes in really handy for this purpose.

cln_img_9641A photo of just the carbonator capcln_img_9644A carbonator cap would typically work with a gas QD and this does.cln_img_9642However, it also works (easily) with a liquid QD.  Not sure why it’s designed like this, but it is and this is another important feature.cln_img_9646To adapt the Keg and Carboy Cleaner for Ball Lock draft lines just attach the stainless carbonator cap to a length of 1/4″ ID tubing (the shorter the better).  Attach the unused end to the smaller of the two included barbs (intended for cleaning tubing) and whammo… you’ve got a line cleaner.  I didn’t use any clamps.  Things held together fine and disassemble for easy cleaning.

cln_img_9654I use a piece of 1/2″ ID silicone tubing over my faucets to return cleaning, rinsing and sanitizing solution back to the Keg and Carboy Cleaner’s basin.  Recirculating means you can run this for a long time (according to your cleaner’s recommendations).  You may also save money by using less cleaner and sanitizer.

This has the advantage of cleaning everything in your draft system.  It cleans the faucet, the shank, the quick disconnect and the tubing.  Some line cleaning pump designs I’ve seen have you removing the beer nut and placing the hand pump apparatus directly on the shank.  That’s some work disassembling and reassembling and it also skips the line and quick disconnect.

cln_img_9657Here is a photo that should hopefully give you an idea about flow rate.  If you look at my original Draft Line Cleaning Pump Build, you’ll see that I don’t believe you need a gushing fire hose-like flow rate.  The important thing, in my book, is touching all parts and constant flow.  Along those lines, if you’re looking for your draft cleaning pump to resemble a pressure washer, I’d suggest looking for something different.  I spent no time on trying to increase flow for this build.  It’s going to depend on your line length and where you place the Keg and Carboy Washer in relation to the top of your shank.

cln_img_9660A look at the 1/2″ ID tubing over my Perlick faucetcln_img_9666The Keg and Carboy Washer can be a bit unwieldy to pick up when full.  You can drain a good bit of liquid off by redirecting the discharge tubing to a bucket.

cln_img_9649I have added this switch to my Keg and Carboy Washer setup.  It allows me to easily turn the pump on and off without plugging and unplugging it.  This switch appears to be similar although not the exact same part number… [GE 52149 Handy Switch Grounded White].  You may want to add a GFCI Adapter and for safety, always read and follow manufacturer’s warnings.

1312Alternative for Pin Lock, Sankey and Ball Lock Systems.  I know of no similar Pin Lock style carbonator cap.  You get nearly the same benefit by replacing that with a 1/4″ Male Flare to 1/4″ Barb Fitting.  Remove your MFL Pin Lock QDs and attach to this fitting.  The only thing you’re missing is including the Pin Lock QDs in the cleaning process.  This would also work for Sankey and ball lock setups, you just need to have 1/4″ MFL lines.

Prior to getting a Keg and Carboy Washer myself, I consistently heard great things about it.  I can confirm the praise.  This is a great piece of equipment that saves me time.  The additional ability to clean lines with little additional expense sweetens the deal further.  The Mark II Keg and Carboy Washer is one of our Top Finds.

Mark’s Keg & Carboy Washer can be found at…

Carbonator Cap: Free shipping Stainless steel Carbonation Cap w/ 5/16″ Barb, Ball Lock Type, fit soft drink PET bottles, Homebrew Kegging – Note that this ships directly from Asia


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Tip: Using a Pedal Foot Switch for Easy Pump Operation

MLCS 9089 Billy Pedal Foot Switch, 2 Step ON/OFF(Continuous Running)

I use this on/off foot pedal foot switch for easy, hands free control of my March Pump while brewing.  I’ve used the same one since of March of 2011 and it works great.  I keep it at the base of my Blichmann TopTier, relatively close to where my pump sits.  One foot press turns the pump on or off.

MLCS 9089 Billy Pedal Foot Switch, 2 Step ON-OFF Continuous Running

I use my March pump for: recirculating my mash, transferring from mash tun to brew kettle, chilling using a recirculating immersion chiller and transferring to my fermenter.

Always be cautious when using your pump with hot liquids and read and follow manufacturers directions.

RelatedAll Grain Tips & Gear

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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.

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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Tip: Rubbermaid Commercial Bus Tubs for Brew Day

Bus Tubs Homebrew

Bus Tubs for Brew Day – A bus tub with a Rubbermaid Commercial High Temp Pitcher and my Brew Day Whisk.  Taken while brewing Brain Eater Pale Ale,

I use two of these on brew day and I find them invaluable.  I use them to cart around brew gear and ingredients – saving trips back and forth 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.

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

If you have a Sam’s Club membership, some clubs carry these or similar at a good price – check here – for availability and pricing.


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Finding East Coast Yeast

East Coast Yeast

East Coast Yeast‘s Mission is: “To provide new, fresh, liquid cultures for your special brewing projects. Specializing in artisanal yeast blends and pure yeast strains long forgotten.”

East Coast Yeast is… is difficult to find in stock.  That’s a testament to ECY’s popularity.

love2brew is one of a very few homebrew shops that stock ECY at all.  Their stock is typically scarce.  When strains become available they usually don’t last long.

This search sorts by availability – Available strains will show up first.  Shipping is free with a $75 order.

Keep an eye Homebrew Finds for availability updates.  If a good number of vials are available, we’ll do a complete post.  If only a handful are available, we’ll generally do a social media update.  Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and more to stay up to date.

One tip for getting East Coast Yeast.  Although their homebrew size pitches are as elusive as Bigfoot or the Chupacabra their 1 BBL pitches can be ordered on demand and to your specifications.  Get together with some friends, your homebrew club or a local nano brewery and order the strain of your dreams.

ECY Strains Include…

ECY BugFarm ECY01 – Large complex blend of cultures to emulate sour or wild beers such as lambic-style ales. Over time displays a citrus sourness and barnyard funk profile. Contains yeast (Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces) and lactic-acid producing bacteria (Lactobacillus, Pediococcus). The Brett population is > 50% of the culture. The BugFarm blend changes strains every calendar year for those who like to blend aged brews. The 2014 version contains a wild Saccharomyces yeast and four different brett isolates, L. brevis and Pediococcus.

ECY Flemish Ale ECY02 – A unique blend of Saccharomyces, Brett, Lacto & Pedio perfect for flemish reds and sour browns. Dry, sour, leathery and notes of cherry stone. Designed for 5 gallon pitch, but may be added at any stage of fermentation.

ECY Farmhouse Blend ECY03 – Saison brasserie blend (ECY08) with a pure Brettanomyces isolate from a small but fascinating producer of Saison. Produces a fruity and funky profile with some acidity gradually increasing over time.

ECY Farmhouse Blend Isolate ECY03-B – Pure Brettanomyces isolate from a small but fascinating producer of Saison. Produces a fruity and funky profile with some acidity gradually increasing over time. Aeration has more of a muted effect, with this brett strain, while adding it during kreusen or priming produces a profound effect with acidity and funk.

ECY Brett Anomala ECY04 – Formerly known as Brettanomyces intermedius and is now named as anomala along with strains of B. clausenii and B. anomulus. This strain was first identified in beer from Adelaide, Australia. Displays a strong ester profile with some light funk and acidity.

ECY BRETT Blend #9 ECY05 – A blend of Brettanomyces that produces a dry, leathery, horsey and/or goaty profile. Can have a pronounced barnyard character and be added at any stage of fermentation. Funk is in the house, so let it out.

ECY Scottish Heavy ECY07 – Leaves a fruity profile with woody, oak esters reminiscent of malt whiskey. Well suited for 90/shilling or heavier ales including old ales and barleywines due to level of attenuation (77-80%) – recommend a dextrinous wort.

ECY Saison Brasserie Blend ECY08 – A combination of several Saison yeasts for both fruity and spicy characteristics accompanied by dryness.

ECY Belgian Abbaye ECY09 – This yeast produces classic Belgian ales – robust, estery with large notes of clove and fruit. Rated highly in sensory tests described in “Brew Like A Monk” for complexity and low production of higher alcohols. Apparent Attenuation: 74-76%. Suggested fermentation temp: 66-72° F.

Old Newark Ale ECY10 – Sourced from a now defunct east coast brewery, this pure strain was identified as their ale pitching yeast. Good for all styles of American and English ales. Top fermenting, high flocculation with a solid sedimentation. Suggested fermentation temp: 60-68°F. Apparent Attenuation: 68-72% Resurrected from a freeze-dried deposit library, this pure strain of S. cerevisae is NOT the rumored Chico strain.

Belgian White ECY11 – Isolated from the Hainaut region in Belgium this pure yeast will produce flavors reminiscent of witbiers. Suggested fermentation temp: 68-74 F. Attenuation: unknown at this time.

ECY Old Newark Beer ECY12 – Sourced from the same defunct east coast brewery as ECY10, this pure strain was used as their “beer pitching yeast”. The strain has been identified as S. cerevisae, hence it is not a true lager strain, but should ferment at lager temperatures.

ECY Belgian Abbaye II ECY13 – Traditional Trappist style yeast with a complex, dry, fruity malt profile. Rated highly in sensory tests described in “Brew Like A Monk” for complexity and low production of higher alcohols.

ECY Saison – Single Strain ECY14 – This pure strain leaves a smooth, full character with mild esters reminiscent of apple pie spice.

ECY Munich Festbier ECY15 – From one of the oldest breweries in Munich, this pure strain is recommended for many German lagers such as Helles, Dunkel, and Oktoberfest. Suggested fermentation 46-54°F. Medium attenuation.

Burton Union ECY17 – Produces a bold, citrusy character which accentuates mineral and hop flavors. Well-suited for classic British pale ales and ESB.

ECY British Mild ECY18 – This yeast has a complex, woody ester profile and is typically under-attenuating (does not ferment maltotriose) leaving a malt profile with a slight sweetness that is perfect for milds, bitters, or “session ales”.
Recommended fermentation temp: 60-68°F.
Attenuation: 66-70%.

ECY BugCounty ECY20 – A mixed culture of wild yeast and lactic bacteria to emulate sour or wild beers such as lambic-style ales. Over time displays a citrus sourness and barnyard funk profile. Contains yeast (Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces) and lactic bacteria (Lactobacillus, Pediococcus). The Brett population is typically >50% of the culture pitch. The blend of strains change every calendar year for those who like to blend or have solera projects. The 2014 version contains a wild Saccharomyces yeast, four brett strains, various lactobacilli and Pediococcus.

ECY Kolschbier ECY21 – Produces a clean lager-like profile at ale temperatures. Smooth mineral and malt characters come through with a clean, lightly yeasty flavor and aroma in the finish. Suggested fermentation temperature: 58-66°F; Apparent Attenuation: 75-78%.

Kellerbier ECY28 – This yeast exhibits a clean, crisp lager in traditional northern German character. Use in German Pilsners including Kellerbier.

ECY North East Ale ECY29 – Replication of the famous Conan strand of yeast. Unique strand with an abundance of citrsy esters accentuating American Style hops in and IPA, Double IPA, or strong ale.

ECY Brett Naardenensis ECY30 – An intriguing species of Brett that may create acetic acid with a mousy-tainted flavor, but after fermentation and aging (approximately 6 months) intense esters of strawberry, honey, ripe fruit with a tart, citrus acidity. The isolate was first found as a soft drink contaminant.

ECY Dirty Dozen Brett Blend ECY34 – Twelve (12) different isolates of Brettanomyces exhibiting high production of barnyard “funk” and esters. Dryness, ripe fruit, and acidity will be encountered over a period of months and over time (>1 yr), may display gueuze-like qualities in complexity. Contains various isolates from lambic-producers, B. bruxellensis, B. anomala, B. lambicus, and B. naardenensis. For those who want the most from Brett yeast, whether a 100% Brett fermentation is desired or adding to secondary aging projects.

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Tip: Checking for Gas QD CO2 Leaks

CO2 Pressure Gauge

For the most part, checking for keg Liquid and CO2 leaks is pretty straightforward.  Is beer leaking?  Then you’ve got a liquid leak.  That one’s really easy to spot.  If beer is shooting out like a geyser, you’ve got a… fast leak. :)  For gas, you spray the keg down with Star San or soapy water and check for bubbles.  Pretty easy.

One of the more difficult spots to check is an engaged gas QD.  Testing at this point using the spray bottle method is impossible (or at the very least difficult and messy).  Leaks will only surface here when a gas QD is connected.  The problem is, you can’t easily get to or see that area with a QD on.  I have had people suggest immersing the entire gas QD in Star San.  I’ve been told that leaks will produce bubbles and you will be able to see them.  That just doesn’t sound like much fun to me.  I don’t really want to soak my gas QD in Star San.  I’m also concerned that I won’t get enough Star San in the mix to create bubbles that I can see.

I use a pressure gauge to do this check.  I remove the gas line and put a pressure gauge on the keg.  Then I use a China Marker (easy to remove wax) to mark the pressure and wait overnight.  If the pressure doesn’t drop, the keg is leak free.  It’s worth noting that if the beer is still carbonating the pressure may drop as part of the carbonation process.  If that’s what’s going on with your beer, just leave the pressure gauge on the keg longer until it levels off.  If it keeps dropping, there is a leak.  If it levels off and stays, you’re leak free.

Another option is to attach only one keg to your regulator and turn of the the CO2 tank.  This allows you to use the low pressure gauge to monitor the keg.  The benefit of this method is that you’re testing everything – line, manifold, QD, o-ring and keg.  The downside is you’re taking other kegs offline.

I’m not suggesting this as a replacement for the Star San spray method.  I use it as a complement to that to check an otherwise difficult to check spot.  I use the spray method when I keg a beer and use the pressure gauge method periodically or if I otherwise suspect a problem.

I’m also quick to replace o-rings, especially on the gas side.  I have a couple full tanks of CO2 to a bad gas post oring.  These typically cost just pennies (See: Bulk Keg Orings and Keg Repair Part Numbers).  I would much rather be safe that sorry when it comes to the time, cost and inconvenience of replacing an empty CO2 tank.


Keg O-Rings: [Dip Tube – Silicone] · [Post – Silicone] · [Lid – Silicone]

Related: Keg Repair Part Numbers · 5 Most Recent Keg Finds

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Temperature Probe Placement – To Immerse or Not To Immerse?

Kegerator Temperature Probe Placement

After my last test on the effects of a recirculating fan on kegerator temperatures (See: Kegerator Beer Line Temperatures & Reducing Foam with a Recirculating Fan), I decided to test the effects of kegerator temperature probe placement.  I went with three configurations: Immersed vs Ambient Non-Immersed vs… Zip Tied to a Beer Can.  Those tests yielded some interesting findings.

Test 1 Zip Tied to a Beer Can:

cln_img_5553For this test, the probe was zip-tied to a 14.9 Ounce Can of Beamish Irish Stout.  This is the technique I’ve used for years.  At the time, I wanted something with some mass to help regulate temperature and I didn’t want to have to mess with submerging the probe and the required container of liquid.  For this test, the can was placed close to the wall of my keezer on the compressor hump.  The second probe was immersed in 500 mL of water in a Lab Container.  See the picture in test 2 for more info on placement.

cln_ziptiedI also placed a ChefAlarm Thermometer & Timer in my keezer – Hands on Review – as another point of reference, giving me an ambient temperature reading.  The ChefAlarm has some great features, including high and low temperature logging.  Those highs and lows are what I used as a reference.

cln_1ziptiedcanHere are the temperature results for test 1 – zip tied to a can.  The top shows the temperature probe zip tied to a beer can.  The bottom, for comparison, shows an immersed temperature probe.  This method produces and nice clean and reliable reading.


  • High Temp: High temperature in deg F as measured by the primary/controlling probe.
  • Low Temp: Low temperature in deg F as measured by the primary/controlling probe.
  • Variance High to Low:  The variance in deg F between general high and low readings from the primary probe.
  • Cycle Length: Overall length of one typical cooling cycle, measured from high point to high point.
  • ChefAlarm High: Ambient temperature high in deg F as recorded by my ChefAlarm
  • ChefAlarm Low: Ambient temperature low in deg F as recorded by my ChefAlarm
  • ChefAlarm Variance: Variance in deg F between high and low ChefAlarm readings
  • Estimated Freezer Cycle Time: Estimated time that the freezer is running as measured from one high to the following low.
  • Estimated Freezer Time: Hours Per Day:  Estimation of how long my freezer would run in 24 hours based on frequency of cycles and freezer cycle time.

Results Test 1:

  • High Temp: 40.03
  • Low Temp: 37.64
  • Variance High to Low: 2.39
  • Cycle Length: 1 Hour 2 Minutes
  • ChefAlarm High: 42
  • ChefAlarm Low: 34
  • ChefAlarm Variance: 8 degrees
  • Estimated Freezer Cycle Time: 12 Minutes
  • Estimated Freezer Time: Hours Per Day: 4.6

Test 2 Submerged Probe:

cln_img_5520Setup: I placed the probe immersed in about 500 mL of water one of my Bel-Art Scienceware 500 mL Polypropylene Lab Containers.  I covered the top with aluminum foil.  I have used these containers since 2011 for a bunch of things including yeast rehydration water (see tips page, tip #1), sample storage and more.  That container was placed in about the same spot as the can used it test 1.  Also Pictured: Eva Dry E-500Hands on Review – to handle kegerator condensation.

cln_2submergedHere are the temperature results for test 2 – immersed.  The top shows the immersed temperature probe.  The bottom, for comparison, shows the probe zip tied to a beer can.  Notice the stuttered temperature changes toward the bottom of this cycle.  It doesn’t happen every cycle, but periodically, it also comes close to flat lining.  That period of flat lining can last up to 18 minutes.  The mass of the water makes temperature readings inefficient.  That’s what we want to some degree.  We want some sort of a buffer to give a good representation of temperature without quick swings.  However the stuttering temperature changes along with flat lining, make me think that this method has it’s drawbacks.

Results Test 2:

  • High Temp: 40.19
  • Low Temp: 36.76
  • Variance High to Low: 3.46
  • Cycle Length: 1 Hour 59 Minutes
  • ChefAlarm High: 43
  • ChefAlarm Low: 30
  • ChefAlarm Variance: 13 degrees
  • Estimated Freezer Cycle Time: 25 Minutes
  • Estimated Freezer Time: Hours Per Day: 5

Test 3 Ambient Non-Submerged Probe:


Here are the temperature results for test 3 – ambient, non-submerged.  The top of this graph shows the ambient probe, the bottom, for comparison, shows a probe zip tied to a beer can.  The left most portion of the graph is part of a previous test, disregard that.  The middle portion shows the ambient non-submersed probe with a recirculating fan.  By the way… all previous tests were completed with a fan.  The right portion shows the same test, without the fan.  I’m not reporting those results here.  That test was much as you would expect it to be.  Similar to the fan test, with larger swings and slower cycles.  Thoughts… I was actually impressed with the consistency of the ambient air results.  When I first looked at the graph, I noticed the semi-wild start of the test and I thought… here we go… this one is going to be all over the place.  However, when it settled in, it was very reliable.  It also has good accuracy.  The difference between the zip tied readings and the ambient readings are small.  The downside of this method is how often the freezer kicks on.  This method had the shortest cycle length, by far, at just 27 minutes.  It also had the highest estimated freezer utilization at 5.3 hours per day.

Results Test 3:

  • High Temp: 40.01
  • Low Temp: 36.39
  • Variance High to Low: 3.62
  • Cycle Length: 27 Minutes
  • ChefAlarm High: 39
  • ChefAlarm Low: 35
  • ChefAlarm Variance: 4 degrees
  • Estimated Freezer Cycle Time: 6 Minutes
  • Estimated Freezer Time: Hours Per Day: 5.3

Overall Results:

Here side by side comparisons of key metrics…


The submerged test produced the longest cycle length, by far.  Nearly twice as long as the zip tie test and four times the length of the ambient test.  It had middle of the road temp variances (compared to zip tied) but it’s ChefAlarm (ambient air) test showed a whopping 13 degrees difference.  Those swings are the result of how much time the freezer has to stay on to overcome the mass of the water used in the immersed test.  That mass also causes inconsistent temperature readings and periods of flat lining.

The ambient test produced good accuracy (second best variance and best ChefAlarm ambient air varience) but the short cycle length of 27 minutes means your freezer is kicking on a lot.  That shows up in the estimated freezer hours per day… 5.3 hours, the highest of any method.

I think the zip-tied can approach provides a good middle of the road solution.  It provides the best accuracy, based on it’s 2.39 degree temp variance, has a middle of the road overall cycle length, middle of the road freezer run time and uses the least amount of energy with an estimated 4.6 hours of freezer run time per day.  The can also offers the benefit of not having to mess with containers of water or other liquids.  It’s also easy to move and reposition when cleaning or reconfiguring your kegerator.


Tips and Gear for Your Kegerator:

Pinned: Black Friday | Barrels | Kegs from $30 | Chapman SteelTanks | Water

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Some Additional Notes: These tests are with my equipment.  Your results will vary based on a lot of factors including freezer/refrigerator, temp controller, amount of liquid used, probe placement, etc.  In spite of those variances, I think these tests give you a good general idea about probe placement.  I used a BrewBit Model T, sourced via Kickstarter, to log temperature.  Look for a review of the BrewBit Model T here, if and (hopefully) when it becomes readily available to purchase.