Category Archives: Reviews & Top Posts

Hands on Review: Kegland DuoTight Fittings & EVABarrier Tubing!

Kegland’s DuoTight Fittings are designed to work with EVABarrier Double Wall Tubing.  They offer quick, reliable connections, easy implementation, a variety of fitting options and feature amazing versatility.  They’re also, generally speaking, very well priced.  DuoTights are push to connect fittings and require no tubing clamps.


Limited Time Deal, Review Continues Below:

  • As of this posting MoreBeer has select DuoTight Fittings on sale.
  • No coupon code is necessary.
  • Shipping is also free to most US addresses with a qualifying $59 order
  • Easy Filler Item….  If you’re looking for a filler item to help you qualify for free shipping, consider grabbing some PBW

DuoTight Sale at MoreBeer – sorts to show on sale items first


How to Use DuoTight Fittings – No Tools or Clamps Needed!

DuoTights feature a unique double EPDM O-ring design.  Coupling and uncoupling is quick and easy and requires no tools or clamps.

DuoTight Ball Lock QD on Left, Compatible EVABarrier Tubing on RightMaking a pressure capable connection is as easy as pushing the tubing all the way in the fitting and firmly pulling the tubing out.To disengage the connection press the collar toward the fitting body and pull on the tubing.  A couple tools are available to help with this process.  See below for photos and links.I have clips that provide some additional security.  They slide into the collar and prevent the connection from disengaging.  These are not required for a solid connection and are not part of the official DuoTight lineup.

Make sure to source a compatible size.  I’ve found that 1/4″ size clips work with my DuoTight Fittings but your experience may vary.


Finding DuoTight Fittings and EVABarrier Tubing, Review Continues Below:

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Why Won’t My Homebrew Carbonate? Fixing Beer Carbonation Problems

Why Won't My Homebrew Carbonate

It’s a tale as old as time, or maybe not quite as old as time, but still old… your beer has finsiehd fermenting, you excitedly transfer it to a keg and wait patiently.  Well, maybe not so patiently.  Every day or two you draw some beer to see where it’s at… it tastes amazing but it’s not carbonating.  You think you’re just being impatient, but then the days continue to pile up.  You’re getting a little carbonation, but not much.  Is this beer broken?  Or, have the basic principles of fluid dynamics just failed?

First Things First…

You’ve probably already done this, but you need to make sure your system is balanced and that both the temperature and pressure levels are set to correctly

See: Step by Step: Balancing Your Kegerator Draft System

Check For Leaks

You’ve probably already done this too, but you need to make sure your kegerator is leak-free.

Why Your Beer Still Won’t Carbonate…

In my experience, continued carbonation problems are a reliable sign of… a CO2 leak.  You may be convinced that your CO2 lines are leak-free, but… it’s possible you’re missing something.  Even a very small leak will foil the carbonation process.

Gas is going to want to take the path of least resistance.  Leaking out of a bad o-ring, or other slow, small leak is easier than dissolving into solution.

If you’re reading this odds good you’ve checked for fast, large leaks.  If that’s the case, take a close look at the gas post o-rings and gas dip tube o-rings.

Post o-rings are a prime suspect because it’s tough to check for a cracked, leaking o-ring.  Testing at this point using the “spray bottle method” (spray Star San everywhere and check for bubbles) is impossible (or at the very least difficult and messy).  Leaks will only surface here when a gas QD is actually engaged.  The problem is, you can’t easily see that spot when a QD on.  Stated more simply, you need a QD on to see if it’s leaking, but you can’t see it if a QD is on.  You can use what I can the pressure gauge method to check for leaks.

If your beer is not carbonating and your system is balanced and you’ve checked for fast leaks.  I recommend taking a hard look at gas dip tube and post o-rings.

I’m quick to replace these o-rings in general.  Beyond slow and no-carbing beers, a bad gas o-ring can lead to empty tanks, which are… not fun.  Head on over to our bulk keg o-ring resource post and pick up spares to have on hand.

Bulk Keg Orings and Keg Repair Part Numbers

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

Our Top Draft Resources!

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.

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Should You Buy a Homebrew Grain Mill?

Picture Monster Mill MM-3 – See: Hands on Review: Monster Mill MM-3 Grain Mill


Limited Time Deal, Resource Post Continues Below:

Monster Mill Sale via Monster Brewing

  • Monster Brewing Hardware is discounting their 3 Roller Homebrew Mill Kit by $39.01 for HBF Readers.
  • Special flat rate shipping.  Monster Brewing Hardware also has a limited time flat rate deal.  Shipping is a flat rate not matter how much you order of $18.50 to addresses in the contiguous US.  Note that you have to choose “Other Shipping Options” to see the flat rate option.
  • You do not need a coupon code.
  • This is a limited time offer.  The first 20 purchasers get this deal.
  • Note that you must use the link below.  This is a special offer for HBF Readers, the standard offering will show the full price.
  • While you’re at it… Monster Brewing Hardware has cool t-shirts for $10.

3 Roller Homebrew Mill Kit at Monster Brewing Hardware


Benefits of Milling Your Own Grain

  1. Control Crush: Milling your own grain gives you control over the crush of your grain.  That’s a big factor in efficiency.  Many homebrew shops tend to under-mill grain to protect against stuck mashes.  I’ve seen pre-milled grain wildly-undermilled.  See this review for a side by side example.
  2. Fine Tune Your Process, Improve Repeatability: A mill allows you to fine tune for your equipment and process.  You know what the crush is going to be since you set it.
  3. Save Money: A mill allows you to save money by buying whole bags of grain at a discount.
  4. Fresher, Better Tasting Beer: The shelf life of unmilled grain is longer than pre-milled grain.  Freshly milled grain = better tasting beer.

Store Milled Grain (left) vs crushing my own grain using optimal using “optimal” setting (right) on a certain mill.  See: Hands On Review: Captain Crush, Adjustable Three Roller Grain Mill for more details

Should You Mill Your Own Grain?

If you’re an all grain brewer, I would encourage you to strongly consider getting a mill and taking control of crush in your brewing process.

Some Mills to Consider

What’s YOUR Favorite Homebrew Mill?

Leave a comment below and let us know!

All Grain Related Reviews – Including Homebrew Grain Mill Reviews:

Get a Deal on Bulk Malt via MoreBeer:  Viking 2-Row Pale Malt, Viking Xtra Pale Malt, Viking Wheat Malt – and Viking Pilsner Malt – all sell for $10.99/10 lbs, unmilled.  5 x $10.99 = $54.95 for 50 lbs of grain.  To sweeten the deal shipping is free with a qualifying $59 orderCheck product links for current price & availability.

Also: All Grain Tips & Gear | 10 Gallon Mash Tun Conversion Kit [Review] | Cereal Killer Grain MIll |  Batch Sparge SpreadsheetBIAB Brew Day Spreadsheet | The Brew Bag – Purpose Made BIAB

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Hands on Review: Chapman Thermobarrel Stainless Steel Mash Tun

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.

Chapman Thermobarrel

Coolers being used for mash tuns are quite common in the homebrew world. This makes sense because they are some common household gear that can be easily repurposed for homebrew use, and they do a great job doing what you need while mashing- hold temperature steady. Steady mash temperatures gets you on the path to repeatability. And no one likes brewing with an “I don’t know we’ll see if this turns out” approach.

1-inch Thick Insulated Walls

The Chapman Thermobarrel is essentially just like a big Gatorade drink cooler, but instead of the insulation being wrapped in hard plastic, it’s skinned in stainless steel. The stainless skin makes it easy to clean and sanitize, and you don’t have to worry about long-term discoloration or scratches in the plastic. The insulated walls are 1” thick, and the base and lid have just under 1” of insulation or insulating air gap.

The lid is engineered to keep the heat in. The internal stainless sleeve extends up about an inch, and the lid nests over the top of this with a nice thick, compliant silicone seal. With 3 latches around the outer edge of the lid, it pulls it down onto this seal for an airtight fit. Definitely more robust than a plastic spin-on drink cooler lid for cutting off heat-escaping air paths. Also on the outside are two solidly welded steel handles- sturdy enough to move the mash tun around if needed when full of grain/wort.

Bottom of Tun with False Bottom Installed

The false bottom in the mash tun is a simple steel circular plate, domed up in the middle. There are rows of small holes across its full area, and in the center there’s a 90-degree elbow fitting held in place by a nut on the bottom side. There’s a barbed end on one end of this elbow, then a short length of high temp hose connects this to a barbed fitting on the ball valve drain. The grain sits on top of this domed plate, and the elbow fitting in the center pulls liquid from underneath the dome, passing it through the tubing and out the ball valve.

Domed False Bottom- AssembledEasy to Read Thermometer

Halfway up the side of the mash tun, there is a large dial thermometer, with a thermowell that extends in toward the middle of the mash tun. It sits at a level that requires just over 5 gallons of water to submerge it.


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Hands on Review: Monster Mill MM-3 Grain Mill!

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.

Monster Mill MM-3

I started milling my own grains not too long after I switched to all-grain. At first I thought the idea was laughable to mill my own grains- why buy something and do the work myself, when I could get it done for free at the homebrew shop? But once my process had stabilized a fair amount, I became frustrated by my inability to hit the recipe’s planned OG. On my batches where my gravity was lower than predicted, I found a notable number of fully intact grains in the spent grains from my mash. Aiming for consistency, I wanted to make sure all my grains were always crushed, so I bought a 2-roller grain mill. That worked well, but if I wanted to optimize mash efficiency, I was always dancing on the edge of a stuck mash.


Limited Time Deal, Review Continues Below:

  • Monster Mill Sale:  Monster Brewing Hardware is discounting their 3 Roller Homebrew Mill Kit by $39.01 for HBF Readers.
  • Special flat rate shipping.  Monster Brewing Hardware also has a limited time flat rate deal.  Shipping is a flat rate not matter how much you order of $18.50 to addresses in the contiguous US.  Note that you have to choose “Other Shipping Options” to see the flat rate option.
  • You do not need a coupon code.
  • This is a limited time offer.  The first 20 purchasers get this deal.
  • Note that you must use the link below.  This is a special offer for HBF Readers, the standard offering will show the full price.
  • While you’re at it… Monster Brewing Hardware has cool t-shirts for $10.
  • Learn More!  Hands on Review: Monster Mill MM-3 Grain Mill

3 Roller Homebrew Mill Kit at Monster Brewing Hardware


The 3-roller mill from Monster Brewing Hardware passes through a first pair of rollers that have a fixed gap. That is machined to be 0.060”, with the intention of doing a minimal crush to soften the inside of the grain without really breaking the husk. After the first pair of rollers, it passes through the gap that you can adjust to your liking. The instructions provided with the mill recommend 0.045” for a medium crush, 0.055” for a coarse crush, and 0.038” for a fine crush. But of course the beauty of having your own mill is you can adjust it as you want, based on what works best for you.

The MM-3 3-roller mill comes with some options. The base rollers are 1144 steel alloy that is durable for long life, but can get some surface rust if used in a non-climate-controlled area, or if you wet mill your grain. For those homebrewers, they offer a stainless steel roller option, which they say has the same durability as the steel alloy base rollers. If you are a manic homebrewer, they offer a 3rd option with their MM-3 Pro series, which has heat treated rollers. These apparently have about 10x the life durability, but the price tag roughly doubles over the base MM-3.

The other option to choose from is the drive shaft size. Standard is a 1/2″ drive, but 3/8” is available as a smaller option. The 3/8” really isn’t recommended since 3/8” drive drills typically don’t have the torque to drive this mill. It can also be hard to find a cordless drill with enough torque to drive it, so Monster Mill recommends a corded drill. If you order the grain hopper from Monster Mill, it comes standard in galvanized 20-gauge steel, or optional stainless steel. Galvanized steel is corrosion resistant, so the only real advantage of stainless for your grain hopper is the “bling effect”.


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When shopping for a mill, it’s important to recognize that even if a product looks the same/similar in a picture, there’s more to it than the photo. For example, there is a similar 3-roller mill in the market at a lower price. However, what you can’t tell from the picture is that the rollers are made of a cheaper steel that doesn’t wear as well, and uses non-sealed bearings which are prone to grain dust causing wear problems. Fred Francis, the owner of Monster Mill makes a point of sourcing all of his raw materials from the U.S., and assembling the mills in Georgia. Rather than chase the lowest price point in the market down to the bottom, he focuses on his American supply base and keeping high quality design/materials to ensure a robust product that stands up well with word-of-mouth recommendations

Hands on Trial

Full Contents of Mill and Accessories Kit

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Ball Lock Keg O-Rings vs Pin Lock Keg O-Rings – are they the same?

pin lock oringsPictured:  Pin Lock and Ball Lock Post O-Rings via this Amazon offering – Universal O-Ring Ten Gasket Sets for Home Brew Kegs With Silicone Post O-Rings  – Pin Lock Post O-Ring on Left, Ball Lock Post O-Ring on Right

Generally speaking, standard pin locks and ball locks use the same o-rings.  The one partial exception are post o-rings.  Standard pin lock keg posts o-rings are slightly larger than ball lock keg post o-rings.  They’re slightly larger than dash 111, but smaller than the next size up.  You can still use dash 111 on pin locks, but they’re tight.  If you’re going to do that, I’d recommend using silicone variations because the flexibility of silicone seems to make them work better compared with Buna-N on pin lock kegs.  Of course you can also buy the right size.  I don’t have a part number on those, but some “universal” gasket sets come with both ball lock and pin lock post o-rings.

It may be difficult to see in these photos, but the left side shows a pin lock post with a ball lock o-ring installed on it.  The right side shows a pin lock post with the pin lock o-ring installed on it.  The pin lock o-ring extends out just a little bit further than the ball lock o-ring.  The ball lock o-ring is nearly flush the the lip on the post.  That small amount is the difference between the two o-rings.

Consider:

Ball Lock vs Pin Lock + Parts Reference:

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

Our Top Draft Resources

 

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.

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Hands on Review: Oliso Vacuum Sealer – for hop preservation & storage

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.

Oliso Vacuum Sealer

For years, I would buy 1 oz. bags of hops from my LHBS, and only use a portion of the bag. I would put some tape over the leftovers and throw it in the fridge. When I went to brew again, I couldn’t remember when those hops were stashed there, and I knew they weren’t sealed properly, so I wouldn’t use them. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away, but I also didn’t want to use such an undefined variable in my recipe. If the beer turned out not as planned, I wouldn’t know if it was because of improperly stored hops, or just a bad recipe. If the beer turned out great, I’d be concerned if I could recreate it next time around.


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Control Your Kegerator Or Fermentation Chamber With Samsung SmartThings!

I have Samsung SmartThings installed in my home.  SmartThings requires a central hub.  That hub communicates with other… SmartThings.  Loads of compatible devices using a number of protocols are available from multiple vendors.  Search Amazon for “smartthings” to see what’s out there.  After these things are connected, you can program automations or routines that define how they operate under certain conditions.  All of this is interoperable with other platforms like Google Home and Alexa.

This post is about using SmartThings to control the temperature of your kegerator or fermentation chamber.  To do that, I use three things – A SmartThings Hub, a Multipurpose Sensor and a Kasa Smart Plug.  Labels and photos show both kegerator and fermentation chamber scenarios.  This concept should work for both applications.

The Multipurpose Sensor can do several things including monitor temperatureThe other piece to the puzzle was a smart plug to tum the kegerator/freezer/fridge off and on as needed.  I used a Kasa Smart WiFi Plug by TP-Link.  It worked like a champ.  I used this because it’s what I had, but wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one.  Keep reading for more on that.

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Hands on Review: BrewBuilt CoolStix – Fermentation Temp Control Without a Dedicated Refrigerator

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.

BrewBuilt Coolstix

All yeasts- ale or lager- have a temperature range that produce the most desirable flavor traits. And even within that target range, there are specific characteristics that get coaxed out when you’re at the top versus the bottom of that range. So when you get a recipe dialed in to your liking, being able to ferment at a specific temperature is a big deal. It’s the difference between simply making a good beer, and making the specific beer you want.

There are different ways to control fermentation temperature. There are fermentation chambers that control the temperature in a small-ish refrigerator or cabinet, and then there are ways to control the temperature more directly within the fermentor itself. The BrewBuilt Coolstix is a method to chill your fermenting beer within the fermentor itself. It does this via a stainless steel cooling rod you insert through the lid of your fermentor and down into the fermenting wort. This allows you more flexibility in fermentation space. You can put your fermentor in one place while fermenting and then put it away up on a shelf after.

Cooling Rod Weld

The hollow rod is made of stainless steel, and it has another smaller pipe welded inside of it. A hose connects to one end to let the flow of cooling water in, and then a hose connects to the other, to take cooling water out. The cooling water used is generally a cooler filled with ice water, which you have to provide yourself. As this ice-cold water passes through, it draws heat from the fermenting wort, and then carries it out. The Complete Kit – See: CoolStix Lineup -, sold by MoreBeer, also includes the pump, hoses, connections, and a standard Inkbird ITC-308 controller to get it to work as a system. This leaves you to just provide your own ice water bath.

Inkbird Temp Controller – Hands on Review ITC-308

The connections between hose and cooling rod are slick. They are self-sealing quick disconnects. To connect, you simply push them on and they snap connected. When it comes time to disconnect, you push down on a small metal tab and they pop off, sealing themselves so you don’t leak any cooling water.

Valved Disconnects – Valved Disconnects at MoreBeerConfiguration Diagram


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CoolStix setups are available for a wide range of fermenters including Fermonsters, Carboys, Tri-Clamp equipped setups, Speidel Fermenters and more.

BrewBuilt CoolStix Temp Control at MoreBeer

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Monitoring Kegerator or Fermentation Temps With Samsung SmartThings

I have Samsung SmartThings installed in my home.  SmartThings requires a central hub.  That hub communicates with other… SmartThings.  Loads of compatible devices using a number of protocols are available from multiple vendors.  Search Amazon for “smartthings” to see what’s out there.  After these things are connected, you can program automations or routines that define how they operate under certain conditions.  All of this is interoperable with other platforms like Google Home and Alexa.

This post is about using SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor to monitor temperatures in your kegerator or fermentation chamber.  Labels and photos show both kegerator and fermentation chamber scenarios.  This concept should work for both applications.

The Multipurpose Sensor can do several things including monitor temperature.  Note that a SmartThings hub and Wi-Fi are also required.

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