Category Archives: Reviews & Top Posts

Convert a Keg Into a Fermenter!

Cornelius Keg Lid for Secondary Fermenter

Kegs has some really distinct advantages as vessels, in general…

  • They are made from stainless steel
  • They are well built
  • They are pressure capable
  • They are generally well made, many times designed for years-long tough commercial use

How about we convert these into fermenters?

One economical way to do this is to remove the gas post and put a small, tight fitting piece of tubing over the top of the male threads.  Many times such a piece of tubing will also snugly accept an airlock.

A purpose built solution, pictured above, is also available that’s basically a modified keg lid.  That comes with a right-sized stopper to allow you to put an airlock in the modified lid.  Both Austin Homebrew Supply and Adventures in Homebrewing sell these.

These lids should work equally well on standard ball lock and pin lock style homebrew kegs.  See: Ball Lock Kegs vs Pin Lock Kegs – What’s the Difference?

Sizing: A five gallon keg isn’t really suitable for a primary fermenter for a 5 gallon batch.  You could use it as a secondary for a full 5 gallon batch, as a primary fermenter for smaller batches (maybe 3 to 4 gallons max) or you could split 5 gallon batches between two kegs.

There are 10 gallon ball lock kegs on the market.  Find one of those and you can do all the same stuff with a 5+ gallon batch.  10 gallon ball locks are difficult to find.  Your best bet is probably ebay.  Try this search, but don’t be surprised if nothing shows up in the search results.

Fun with keg fermenters!

  • Swap the fermenting lid out for the regular lid and use a trimmed dip tube and you can transfer under pressure.  The trimmed dip tube is essential to leave behind trub and avoid clogs.  You could also use William Brewing’s Top Draw Beer Pick Up Tube instead of trimming a dip tube.
  • Ferment under pressure using a Spunding Valve
  • Naturally carbonate in the keg using a Spunding Valve

Related: Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation & Best Sellers in Lab Erlenmeyers – via Amazon | StirStarter Stir Plate | Yeast Starters and Fermentation Resource Page

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Hands on Review: Brewers Hardware Tri-Clover Sample Valve!

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 TC Sample Port

There are different types of valves, suited for different purposes. On a fermentor, it is useful to have a valve that has the ability to pull small samples for gravity readings or taste samples, but also able to flow well when it comes time for transfer to a keg. The sample port valve provides fine adjustment to flow rate, allowing you to vary between a slow trickle for pulling a sample or a higher flow rate for gravity transfer to fill a keg.

Valve Handle with 2 O-rings and Silicone Seat

The sample port valve has a fine pitch thread to allow for small adjustments to the opening of the valve. With the Brewers Hardware sample port valve, you can feel while turning the knob that the threads and the stem of the valve are machined to tolerances for a precise fit and without slop or wobble. The valve stem has 2 O-rings to keep beer from sneaking out or air sneaking in. And the tip of the valve has a silicone bumper that gets compressed onto a seat for a secure fit to prevent leaks when closed. Silicone is non-porous, making it easy to clean and not harbor stow-aways from one ferment to another. And its elasticity allows it to conform to the valve shape for a good seal, yet spring back so it can be used over and over again to seal and unseal.

The overall quality of the valve from Brewers Hardware was top-notch. The surfaces were smooth-polished stainless steel, and the ridges on the adjustment knob were cleanly machined for grip with no sharp edges. Turning the adjustment knob, it felt precise with no slop or wobble, with a tight seal. It’s difficult to give justice to the fit & finish of the part with just words or a couple pictures, but it really stands out.

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Hands on Review: Spike Conical Fermenters

spike conical review

This review is by Homebrew Finds Reader Benji S.  Benji has been brewing for 10 years.  His favorite style is Festbier.  He’s an all grain brewer and member of WIZA (Whidbey Island Zymurgy Association).  Check him out on Instagram at neon_hop

After well over a year of evaluating, I splurged recently and got a Spike Conical (the CF5). I’ve seen quite a few others going through this debate period, so I wanted to provide a hot take to help others in their own decision making process. So far I’ve assembled and prepped it for my first brews, but haven’t actually used it yet. Most of the points here will be about equipment quality/features rather than practice.

For context; I added on the temp control bundle with heater, leg extensions, casters, extended bracing shelf, and a few other nice to haves. So some of these will cover things that aren’t part of the “core” conical package.

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Spike Conical Fermenters

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Hands on Review: Keggle Brewing Pump and Chiller Stand

This review is by Homebrew Finds Contributor Tom Brennan.  Read more about Tom and grab a link to his website and YouTube channel below.

Keggle Brewing Pump and Plate Chiller Stand

After opening the box that came from Keggle Brewing I noticed that this stand was built to last. And it should, considering the abuse most homebrewers put into the equipment…OK maybe that’s just me. It was constructed of mostly aluminum parts and was well welded. It was not difficult to put together, but an addition of instructions would be welcomed.

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This is available in two versions.  Just the stand and the stand complete with pump and chiller.

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Build a DuoTight CO2 Gas Manifold! – for Kegland EVABarrier Tubing

Kegland’s DuoTight Fittings are designed to work with their EVABarrier Tubing.  They offer quick, reliable connections, easy implementation, a variety of fitting options and work with double wall EVABarrier tubing.  These are push to connect and require no tubing clamps.  Combine these features with their generally low price and this system and tubing are a game changer for kegerator/keezer owners and builders.

As of this posting, the system has no native manifold option available.  No need to fear, this post details three DuoTight manifold options that you can put together yourself.

Finding DuoTight Fittings and EVABarrier Tubing

Build 1 – Convert a Flare Based Manifold to DuoTight

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Hands on Review: Kegtron Smart Keg Monitor

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.

Kegtron Smart Keg Monitor

Let’s face it, some homebrew gear is purely a luxury item. You’ll hear people ask, “Yeah, but how does that make your beer better?” Sometimes you can rationalize your flashy gear because it allows your brew process to be more repeatable, or take less time. Kegtron doesn’t make your beer taste better, it doesn’t improve your brew process, and it doesn’t make your brew day faster. But it’s something more than just brewery bling.

When I first saw the Kegtron keg monitor, it seemed just like a silly way to part homebrewers from their money. It looked cool, but it definitely didn’t seem like something I’d get excited about. And then I tried it.

Kegtron sells 2 models. One for a single tap, one for a dual. The measurement is done by some fancy digital flow meters inside the housing of the unit. There is a circuit board that keeps track of how much beer goes through the flow meters and stores that data on the board. It also has a Bluetooth transmitter that broadcasts this information to an app on your phone/tablet that you’ve paired through the app.

Since the flow meters just keep track of how much beer goes past them, you have to enter into the app how much beer you start with. You hook up your keg, tell it how many gallons are in it, and it tracks from there, deducting beers each time it measures 12 ounces has gone by. It’s customizable, so if you want to count beers by the pint (U.S. or Imperial) instead of 12 oz. bottle, you can do that. The display on the app tells you how many “drinks” are left in the keg. And since you also input to the app what size your keg is (2.5 gallon, 5 gallon, 1/2 barrel, etc.), along with telling you how many beers are left, it has a colorful graphic to show what percentage of your keg is left.

In the app, you can name each of your beers, so if you have more than one Kegtron tap being monitored, they all show up on your screen and you can keep track of each beer with its own space on your display. Since the data is stored on the Kegtron unit itself, and it uses Bluetooth to communicate to your app, if you leave the house and get out of Bluetooth range, you don’t see your beer lists. So it’s intended to be a display at home next to your kegerator, or on your phone so you can direct your underlings to run downstairs and fetch you what you want from the comfort of your couch.

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Kegtron Smart Keg Monitor – Dual Tap Expansion Unit | Track Your Keg Levels From Your Phone | Upgrade Your Taps – via Amazon, multiple versions available

Hands on Review

Kegtron provided me a single-tap unit to try out and review at home. I saw it on display at Homebrew Con in Portland, displaying a club’s list of taps and their various stages of keg emptiness. I wasn’t sure that in a less busy setting it would provide the same value. What I found was it got me excited about what I had on tap (like I needed help). It was cool watching it accurately count down the drinks with each glass filled. I have a 4-tap keezer, and I found myself gravitating to whatever I had on the tap with the Kegtron just because it was fun. After a couple weeks I found myself wanting it on all of my taps. It was just so cool, and suddenly seemingly useful to know exactly how much beer was left in each tap. I was a convert.

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Can You Save Money Homebrewing Your Own Beer?

Pictured: MoreBeer’s BRKIT100 Homebrew Starter Kit

A driving factor for a lot of homebrewers to pick up this great hobby is… saving money.  After all, if I make my own beer at home, it’s got to be cheaper, right?

Let’s find out.

Ground Rules

These are estimates and assumptions.  Actual costs are going to vary.  This scenario assumes you drink quality craft beer.  Along those lines, for estimation’s sake, let’s say you like a popular style like a mildly hoppy pale ale and you’d generally spend about $7 or $8 or so on a 6 pack.  Shipping charges will be considered $0 as free shipping options are usually available at certain thresholds.  Taxes will be considered $0.  This scenario assumes an extract brewing technique.

Let’s get started…

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My Favorite Size of Star San & Why

Star San – via Amazon

Star San Acid Sanitizer.  8 oz size.  No rinse when mixed properly.  Container includes built in measure.

From the product description, check product page for current description, price and availability:

  • Self-foaming acid sanitizer ideal for brewing, dairy and other food and beverage equipment
  • Extremely effective bactericide and fungicide and is not affected by excessive organic soils
  • Reduces water spotting and can be used without rinsing under the proper concentrations
  • Volume: 8 fluid ounces

Star San is my sanitizer of choice.  It is effective, food safe and no-rinse.  It is also very cost effective if you use the spray bottle method.

My Favorite Size and Why: Considering the shelf life of Star San concentrate is 1 to 2 years, If you’re using the Spray Bottle Method [See: Tip: Star San Tips, Tricks and Guidelines – Using Star San In a Spray Bottle], I generally recommend purchasing the 8 ounce size.  8 ounces of concentrate yields about 39 gallons of mixed solution.  The spray bottle method is very efficient, so you don’t end up using much sanitizer per batch.  Let’s say you use 1/4 gallon (which I personally think is high) for each batch, the 8 ounces size yields enough mixed solution for around 157 batches.  That figures to about 13 batches per month over a 1 year period.  If you use 1/8 gallon (which I think is more realistic) that equates to about 26 batches per month over a 1 year period.  The larger 16 and 32 ounces sizes may be a lower cost per ounce, but if you’re unable to use it within Star San’s shelf life, you’ll just be throwing sanitizer away or using less effective past date sanitizer.  Getting a smaller bottle more often means your Star San is fresher.

Star San – 8 oz


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Hands on Review: Brewers Hardware Tri-Clover Sight Glasses

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 TC Sight Glasses

A large sight glass on a brew rig set-up can legitimately be classified as a luxury. There are various ways to assess your wort clarity during your brew session. During recirculation of the mash, or during vourlaf, you want to know when your wort is running clear and free of grain debris. Connect a sight glass into your recirculation loop and you can easily see the wort clarity without having to look for grain bits in a recirculation spray. It’s just right there in plain view.

Sight Glass showing cloudy wort during recirculationSight Glass showing clear wort during recirculation

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Hands on Review: Brewers Hardware Quick Clean Take-Apart Ball Valves

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 Take-Apart Ball Valve

Up until now, I’ve known of two types of ball valves- 2-piece and 3-piece. The key difference between them being that the 3-piece can be disassembled for full cleaning. When I first started buying gear, I figured I’d go for the 3-piece because the idea of being able to take it apart and clean it sounded like something I should probably do. After seeing the complications of needing to use 2 wrenches at a time, while holding the body of the valve stable, I quickly concluded my 3-piece valves would never experience the joy of a ‘deep cleaning’.

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Quick Clean Take-Apart Ball Valves at Brewers Hardware

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