Category Archives: Reviews & Top Posts

Hands on Review: Bouncer Inline Beer Filter

bouncer inline filter review

Special Thanks to Jerry at AdventuresInHomebrewing.Beer for this Hands on Review

Hands on Review Bouncer Inline Beer Filter

Have you ever paid attention to any of those” suggested posts” on Facebook? More often than not, I just swing right by. One did catch my attention though, it was for the Bouncer. I am glad I took the time to really check it out, and contact Tim and Doug about what looked to be a really cool product. Homebrewing is filled with gadgets, and guys find really cool ways to to fix problems we run into. The Bouncer and the Bouncer MD solve all sorts of floating issues! It is two different beer inline filters that accomplish great things! So here is my product review of the Bouncer and Bouncer MD home brew beer inline filters. If you want the cliff notes, the answer is yes….go buy it….you won’t be disappointed. Oh wait, you want more details? Read those below.


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In order to use the Bouncer or the Bouncer MD, you do need to put them inline with your tubing. For the regular Bouncer, it needs to be between your bottling bucket and the bottling wand.

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Hands on Review: Vittles Vault Stackable Storage Bins for Homebrew Grain Storage! + Limited Time Sack Malt Deal

This review is by Homebrew Finds Contributor Brad Probert.  Brad is an engineer, expert homebrewer and experienced reviewer.  Grab a link to Brad’s website at the end of this review.


Limited Time Sack Grain Deal, Review Continues Below:

North Star Pils™ - Rahr Malting

North Star Pils™ – Rahr Malting from MoreBeer:

1.5-1.9L Rahr – A base malt to set your compass by! Rahr North Star Pils™ is crafted to meet the requirements of brewers looking for a domestic pilsner malt with low color and low modification. It is malted to a target of 38-40° Kolbach to facilitate smooth lautering with any mash regimen. North Star Pils™ brings overtones of honey and sweet bread with supporting flavor and aroma notes of hay and nutty character. Suitable for any beer style, but particularly craft brewed versions of classic lager styles.

  • As of this posting, MoreBeer has this for $63.99.
  • It also currently qualifies for free shipping to addresses in the contiguous US. This is a huge savings when it comes to a bulky 55 lb sack of grain!

This sold out not long after we first posted about it after a heads up via a reader tip. It came back in stock briefly and then sold out again. Then it became a pre-order. As of this posting, it’s in stock and ready to ship. Check product page to see if you can still get in on this shipment.

Rahr North Star Pils™ (55 lb Sack) GS313


Vittles Vault Storage Bins

Gamma2 as a company is 100% dedicated to their mission of designing and providing pet food containers to animal owners (technically they also care about your dog getting out of the pool, as they make a doggy pool exit ramp). But, that doesn’t mean these “pet food containers” can’t be co-opted for homebrewing. The same characteristics that make them ideal for pet food, also make them ideal for malt storage.

Vittles Vault 60-lb Container

I’ll go through a few storage basics for malt. First, you want to store it uncrushed, so that the husk helps keep the good stuff inside protected from the environment. Cracked grain kernels are more enticing to critters, and opens up the endosperm to fast staling. Beyond that, grain wants to be kept at cooler room temperatures (40 – 60F), dry, away from light, and in an airtight environment. Maltsters range in the max recommended storage time, with most in the 12-18 months range, and some up to 24 months. When you buy grains by the 55-lb sack, most will put a “best by” date on the label, since you don’t know how old it is before you get it. Although you can save money by buying grains in bulk, you need to make sure you have the right throughput to use it up before it stales.

Lid o-ring Out of Groove on Right Side

Gamma2 has a number of different types and sizes of storage containers. All are designed to be airtight, so they keep air from getting in and staling your grains when you’re not scooping it. (Which of course, the same thing can’t be said for that 55-lb sack of grain you’ve got in the corner, with a stretch of duct tape over the hole you cut into it…) The lid design is how they achieve this air-tightness. There’s a compliant o-ring that’s held in a groove on the lid which gets compressed down onto a chamfered face on the body of the container to make the seal. As the threaded lid gets screwed down, the o-ring will get squished to block off the air-leak path past the lid.


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Also Mentioned in This Review:

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Cleaning Multiple Kegerator Lines at the Same Time

Regularly cleaning beer lines is an important part of serving tasty beer from your kegerator. Homebrewers use a number of methods to accomplish this from removing tubing to soak in cleaning and sanitizing solutions to DYI pumps to commercial solutions.

I have a number of builds/mods for cleaning and flushing lines…

Also: Hands on Review: Kegland Ball Lock Cleaning Kit

Saving Time by Cleaning Multiple Lines

Being able to clean multiple lines at the same time is a big time saver. In years past this would have involved stringing together multiple fittings or partially disassembling your setup.

For ball lock keg users – Ball Lock vs Pin Lock – there is an easy solution available that allows you to clean multiple lines at the same time with minimal effort.

Valuebrew Stainless Steel Ball Lock JumpersHands on Review

This allows you to connect multiple ball lock kegerator runs by simply snapping them into the jumper. There are a few similar models available. Valuebrew’s features stainless steel construction, food grade o-rings and… it works with both gas and liquid QDs.

Here’s the jumper in action. I’ve tried this with both my Recirculating Draft Line Cleaning Pump and Simple Ball Lock Draft Line Flushing Setup

Two lines being flushed by my Simple Ball Lock Draft Line Flushing Setup – keep in mind this particular build is pump free, this is happening all under CO2 pressure

This makes connecting two lines very simple. Connect the two ball lock lines and push cleaning solution through one of your faucets.

How about 3 or more lines?  The QD side is easy, you’ll need 1 jumper for 2 lines, 2 jumpers for 3 lines and so on.  For the faucet side, you need to cut a small piece of tubing to jump between faucets as needed. Keep in mind that each line you add increases resistance. Your pump may do great with two or three lines, but as you add lines, it will have to work harder.

Flushing Lines with CO2: This jumper allows you to connect liquid AND gas lines. That means you can flush lines with CO2 to push out any remaining cleaner or sanitizer and purge O2. Cleaned > Rinsed > Sanitized, Dried  and Purged lines! Make sure to use a low pressure that’s compatible with all components in your system if you do this.

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Ball Lock Jumpers – via Valuebrew

How About Pin Lock and Sanke Setups?

KOMOS® Draft Line Cleaning Coupler

This a male beer thread jumper. You would unthread tail pieces and use these jumpers to connect lines together. This is a bit more work that the ball lock jumper for ball lock setups and it wouldn’t include all of your faucets, but it’s a good choice of you use pin lock or sanke connections.

KOMOS® Draft Line Cleaning Coupler – via MoreBeer

My Cleaning Builds

Also: Hands on Review: Kegland Ball Lock Cleaning Kit

Related:

Keg Deals!

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Rebuild Your Kegs!

More Homebrew Finds!

Price, promotions and availability can change quickly. Check the product page for current price, description and availability.

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. top:cleanmultiple tag:tpr

Why Do I Have Bubbles in My Beer Line?

co2 bubbles in beer line

Got Bubbles?

Bubbles in your beer line can point to a several potential problems. These problems can lead to small bubbles… foam or larger CO2 bubbles breaking out of solution. These issues can occur at different points in your kegerator. The point at which they occur and specific behaviors can help us to track down the problem.

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Hands on Review: Valuebrew’s EPDM Keg O-Rings

This review is by Homebrew Finds Contributor Brad Probert.  Brad is an engineer, expert homebrewer and experienced reviewer.  Grab a link to Brad’s website at the end of this review.

In the world of homebrewing, you can surround yourself by as little or as much science as you want. O-rings, seals, and gaskets come in different varieties in homebrewing. The most commonly found material is silicone, and it’s often elevated as the “best” material. As with most things, there are benefits/drawbacks to each different type of material. Silicone has a very wide temperature range, making a good gasket seal choice at cold temperatures, as well as at hot/boiling temperatures. Its high flexibility makes it well-suited to sealing uneven gaps or perhaps non-ideal sealing surfaces.

Some Old Dip Tube O-rings Were in Rough Shape

However, one of its drawbacks is it does not handle acid-based cleaners well, so Star San sanitizing can deteriorate the material. The occasional sanitizing spray might not be a significant degradation, but you definitely don’t want to soak silicone parts in Star San for extended periods of time. When you’re dealing with the cold side like fermentors or kegs, you’ll be sanitizing frequently, and this compatibility might be a consideration for you.


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Note that Valuebrew has regularly struggled keeping products in stock. If something you’re looking for is out of stock, connect with us and we’ll keep you up to date on availability issues.


Another aspect of silicone that’s pertinent to cold side operation is its ability to allow oxygen to pass through it. It’s difficult to find good, standardized comparisons of material alone between silicone and EPDM because there are so many factors involved like additives in the material, thickness of material, temperature, pressure, etc. I was able to find one research paper (link below) that tested common dimension TC gaskets with different materials, and it showed the Oxygen permeability of silicone was roughly 25x as high as EPDM. So for those long durations of either sitting in your fermentor, or even longer in your keg, EPDM is the better choice to minimize oxygen mixing in through the seals. On kegs, the biggest pathway is of course the keg lid, but there are also O-ring gaskets on the dip tube, gas & liquid posts, and even inside the disconnect housing itself.

Keg lid o-rings



Hands on Review

I hadn’t changed my keg O-rings since the kegs were new, which had been several years. I got a full set of EPDM O-rings that ValueBrew offered- keg lid, keg post, dip tube, and internal QD. The feel of the EPDM material was notably different. It wasn’t stiff, but was relatively stiffer than super-compliant silicone O-rings. The material had a very high-quality feel- smooth with a slightly waxy texture. It definitely had the feel of quality.

Aside from the feel and visual review, I wanted to get some “data” on how the O-rings performed. The biggest draw of EPDM for me was the low oxygen permeability. But this is hard to objectively measure, and simply tasting a beer would likewise be prone to other differences overshadowing oxygen pickup. I had a Milwaukee MW600 DO meter, but the level of oxygen uptake that could allow oxidation reactions to happen is below the threshold of measurement for the meter. Not to mention that once oxygen is available and goes through oxidation reactions with the beer, it’s no longer pure oxygen to be measured by such a meter. I gave it a try anyway. I did a side-by-side keg test with two kegs filled with water. One keg had a set of silicone O-rings, the other the EPDM O-rings. The kegs were first purged by filling with water completely and pushing that out with CO2. Then they were filled with water in through the dip tube until completely full again, and then 0.5 gallons of water pushed out with CO2 so both kegs had the same amount of headspace. Measurement with my MW600 showed indetectable DO at the start of my test, the two checkpoints in between, and at the end of a month. Not surprising since staling reactions happen at a lower level of DO than the MW600 can detect, but it does tell me that silicone O-rings aren’t a complete disaster.

Keg Post O-Rings

The other test I did was a pressurized test to look for leaks. For this I used 6 kegs that were retrofitted with EPDM O-rings that I had recently cleaned and purged. I pressurized them all to just over 10 psi of CO2 from my tank and let them sit at basement temperature (65F). I went back and checked them all for pressure loss using a Spunding Valve. With multiple checks over a one-week period, only one of them had any pressure loss.

Dip Tube O-rings

For that keg, I was able to see it was leaking quite significantly from the bottom of the liquid out keg post. Tightening the post had no effect, and swapping to another EPDM O-ring (plus keg lube on the O-ring) also had no effect. I then got my calipers out and started measuring O-ring thickness. I’ll preface these numbers with the disclaimer that measuring thickness of a compliant material with a handheld gauge is problematic. That said, I found the original dip tube O-rings I had removed from my kegs all measured about 2.8 mm thick and one measured 2.4 mm. New parts from the EPDM bag (including the ones that were leaking on my keg) measured 2.4 mm. I happened to have a keg O-ring replacement kit, and that O-ring measured 3.0 mm. I swapped that 3.0 mm O-ring onto the diptube and my pressure leak was gone, and the keg held pressure for my 1-week test.

Internal QD O-rings



My research indicated the most common cross-section thickness of these O-rings is 3/32”, which is 2.38 mm. So the EPDM rings were a standard thickness. The keg I was using it on was a keg I bought new probably 5 years ago, so it was in good shape. It was not a used reconditioned keg that had seen a lot of use & abuse in the field serving Pepsi at some random diner. It just happened to need a slightly thicker O-ring. Lesson learned for me here was to always do a pressure test like this, and not just assume all new O-rings are going to be better than the old O-rings they’re replacing.

Pressure Holding Test with Spunding – Related: Hands on Review: Kegland BlowTie Spunding Valve – Build a Spunding Valve! – How and Why

The final evaluation I did was on a rehabbed pin lock keg that I had bought used, converted over to ball lock by my LHBS. When I got that keg, I found it had a slow leak through the lid, and upon closer examination, I found the lip of the opening had a slight dent in it. I had previously bought a silicone O-ring for this lid, as I had heard that silicone was more compliant, and would deal with this sort of thing better. I wasn’t sure if these EPDM O-rings would handle that, but the keg held pressure with the EPDM lid O-ring the same as the other kegs.

Conclusions

In conclusion, I found the ValueBrew EPDM O-rings to be of high quality. My leak tests showed that the O-rings worked well, but it wasn’t a complete guarantee, so you need to test it on your specific kegs. And although I didn’t have the right equipment to characterize the benefit EPDM has over Silicone when it comes to oxygen permeability, the science is there to back it up. And one less thing to spoil my hoppy beers sounds like a good idea to me!

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Note that Valuebrew has regularly struggled keeping products in stock. If something you’re looking for is out of stock, connect with us and we’ll keep you up to date on availability issues.

Also: Hands on Review: Valuebrew Stainless Steel Ball Lock Jumpers – Works with Liquid AND Gas

Vauebrew Carries Custom Green and Blue Post O-Rings

Rebuild Your Used Kegs

Keg Deals!

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Everything For Your Kegerator!

Keg Reviews!

Food Grade Keg O-rings in Bulk!

bulk keg orings

 

More Homebrew Finds!

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

Our Top Draft Resources!

By Brad Probert.  Check out Brad’s website – beersnobby.com

Special Thanks to Valuebrew for providing the o-ringst used for evaluation in this review.

Price, promotions and availability can change quickly. Check the product page for current price, description and availability.

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.  review:vbepdm tag:tpr

Hands on Review: AEB Italian Made Ball Lock Kegs!

AEB has been manufacturing stainless steel drums, tanks and… kegs in their facility in Andalo Valtellino, Italy for over 30 years.

AEB leans hard into their Italian roots… “THE MADE IN ITALY IS OUR IDENTITY” can be seen plastered on their website in all caps. If I were to take a read on homebrewing, my read is that the general sentiment is that AEB kegs are among the highest quality kegs available to homebrewers. Just a guess and certainly a generalization.


Price Increases…

A while back I had reported that AEB keg prices will be going up. The information I’m hearing continues to support that, some retailers have already significantly increased prices.


Hands on Review AEB Ball Lock Kegs

A look at the boxA.E.B. Made in Italy. AEB leans heavily on their Italian identity. That makes sense to me as I generally think Italian made = high quality. That’s a broad stroke, but my espresso machine was made in Italy and it’s amazing. So, fair or unfair, that’s where I’m at.Close up of the keg imprint. NSF P/N 29744PS, Max Capacity 5 GAL, Year 2020, A.E.B. Made in Italy, N 004420, Warning, Never Exceed Maximum Working Pressure of 130 PSI.

Tip: If you’re looking for replacement parts look for your keg’s imprint. It should show the manufacturer and model number.


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Hands on Review: KegLand Ball Lock Disconnect With Shank

Kegland is making some great stuff. Really well thought out, innovative and generally well-priced gear. When I see something new from Kegland I’m generally left with one of two responses, 1. I’ve been wanting something like this for a long time or, 2. I would have never thought of this tweak/product, it’s ingenious.

Kegland’s Ball Lock QD with integrated shank is par for the course. A really good idea. I’ll take a closer look at it in this review and also discuss the general idea behind this and similar solutions.

But first, what does a shank adapter do?

Corny Keg Faucet Adapters have been around for a long time. They allow a keg QD to connect to a compatible faucet. An MFL/male flare QD, ball lock or pin lock, connects to the FFL/female flare side of the converter. Basically you’re adding mini shank to your QD. Dandy!

Old style faucet converter and QDThis allows you connect a compatible faucet to a keg QD. No tubing necessary. Really nice for mobile serving and more.

Hands on Review: KegLand Ball Lock With Shank

Kegland’s Ball Lock QD with shank has a standard looking ball lock QD body. Instead of a flare or barb outlet it features and integrated shank and sleeve.


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Three Top Tips for Keezer Conversions!

keezer conversion tipsChest freezers are great. They’re generally well priced and they’re space and energy efficient and can be easily had.

The primary idea with a chest freezer is to… freeze food. Also referred to as Deep Freezes, most models do not go through a defrost cycle. That’s a bummer come manual defrost time but outstanding for energy savings and food preservation.


Side note… Because of the lack of a defrost cycle, chest freezers are great for storing hops – our hop deals roundup


Many people including myself have repurposed chest freezers as kegerators or “keezers”.

What does Keezer mean?  Keezer = kegerator + freezer.

To do the conversion you basically add a compatible temp controller – Inkbird deals and reviews – that will allow you to operate a chest freezer at fridge temps.  After that add some taps, maybe a collar, some kegs and a CO2 tank and you’re off and going!

The problem: Chest freezers are generally meant to operate at freezing temperatures, not beer serving temps. This causes issues with condensation and airflow. Left unhandled these issues can cause other problems, like sanitation issues.

Through several iterations of my own keezer, I’ve experienced all of these problems. I have a library of tips and resources that specifically apply to serving draft beer, but these are the top three when it comes to keezer conversions.

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Hands on Review: Brewers Hardware The Dry Hopper!

This review is by Homebrew Finds Contributor Brad Probert.  Brad is an engineer, expert homebrewer and experienced reviewer.  Grab a link to Brad’s website at the end of this review.

Brewers Hardware Dry Hopper

Dry hops. Homebrewers debate their favorite dry hop, how to calculate their IBU contribution, and when is the best time to add dry hops. While many love them, the technical challenge of adding them “right” is a hefty one. Whether you’ve heard of hop creep, or tasted an oxidized IPA, you are interested in minimizing the introduction of oxygen to your beer when you add dry hops.

Dry Hopper Assembly

If you add oxygen to your beer at the tail end of fermentation, you can spur your yeast on to keep going. When they would otherwise be content to be finished, the addition of oxygen gets them going, converting more sugars. The result is a lower FG, and a highly attenuated beer. And if you introduce oxygen after the yeast have officially called it quits, instead of the yeast using it up in fermentation, the oxygen is available to make oxidation compounds in your beer. These oxidation compounds are the things you taste in stale beer, and I’ve personally battled with harsh hop bitterness in IPAs when I got sloppy with oxygen intake on a finished beer.

Bottom Valve and Mounting Flange

Another dry hopping challenge is how to add the hops to a beer you’re fermenting under pressure. If you’ve gone through the work to finish up fermentation with your beer under pressure, you don’t want to simply vent the pressure to add dry hops. And if you’ve ever watched pressurized beer in a fermentor drop to 0 pressure, you know the whole thing becomes a churned-up mess- totally undoing all the work of precipitating trub and yeast.

Related: Fermenting Under Pressure

Sight Glass Hop Chamber

Brewers Hardware came out with the Dry Hopper to specifically deal with these challenges. The Dry Hopper attaches to a Tri Clover flange on your lid. There are two sizes- one for a 1.5” TC port, and one for 3” TC port. Both designs contain the same 3 elements- a valve at the bottom that mates to the lid of your fermentor, a tube in the middle to hold the hops, and a fixture on top with a gas ball lock port and a PRV valve. The 3” TC version is larger and holds more dry hops (14 oz) than the 1.5” TC version (4 oz).


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Hands On Review: Winco 1 Pint Measuring Cup

Homebrewers measure a lot of things around the home brewery… pH, gravity, temperature and volumes. This is a look at Winco’s 1 Pint Measuring Cup.

Hands on Review Winco PMCP-50 Pint Measuring Cup

This measuring cup features polycarbonate construction and two measuring scales. I found an unofficial source that says this is heat resistant up to 210 degrees F. Here are the pint/cup markings. These are in red.


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Winco PMCP-50 PintWinco Measuring Cup, Polycarbonate, 1-Pint, Clear – note that multiple variations of this product may be available, as such a different version may appear at this link

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