Category Archives: Reviews & Top Posts

Hands on Review: Thermapen ONE Thermometer!

thermapen one hands on review

The Thermapen is a thermocouple thermometer produced by ETI, Ltd and sold by ThermoWorks. It’s used by restaurants, home cooks, homebrewers, grillers, bbq-ers and more.

My in depth hands on look at the latest iteration, the Thermapen ONE starts with a history of the Thermapen, has accuracy and response time tests and lots more.

Hands on Review: ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE!

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My Thermapen ONE Review is hosted on my BBQ site BBQ Finds – it covers use for homebrewing and more.

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Hands on Review: Kegland Ball Lock Kegs!

Kegland, based in Australia, produces a broad array of homebrewing gear. fermenters, electric brewing systems, loads of draft stuff (including DuoTight!) and lots more.

It’s obvious these folks are homebrewers at heart, because they’ve come up some really innovative stuff. The other thing they’ve generally done is hit really good price points. There is a balance between cost, features and quality and they seem to be hitting a lot of bullseyes.

This is an in depth hands on look at Kegland’s 5 gallon ball lock keg.

Hands on Review Kegland 5 Gallon Ball Lock Keg

A look at the boxThe other side of the box. This is one of the better looking keg boxes I’ve run across.

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What’s The Difference? Comparing AEB and AMCYL Ball Lock Kegs!

AEB and AMCYL manufacturer ball lock kegs, also called soda pre-mix tanks. Homebrewers use these for beer, cider and seltzer. Coffee shops use them for cold brew, Kombucha makers use them for kombucha and on and on.

A common question I see, or directly hear, is… what’s the difference between AMCYL and AEB?  It’s a great question. Both make new ball lock kegs, both go by abbreviated company names and both start with…. A.  Maybe they’re the same? This write up aims to answer the question and will give you a complete run down of what’s the same and what’s different.

Hands on Reviews of Both:

This post will give an overview of each keg with comparisons. If you want a deep dive into either one, I have in depth hands on reviews of both kegs.

AEB vs AMCYL Kegs, Compared…

Important Note: In this comparison, when two kegs are pictured, AEB kegs will always be on the left an AMCYL kegs will be on the right.

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Hands on Review: Blichmann Engineering BoilerMaker G2 Kettle Customization

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.

Blichmann Engineering BoilerMaker G2 Customized Kettle

Blichmann has made brew kettles for a long time, but it is only recently they added the ability for you to custom configure the G2 BoilerMaker Kettle to your liking. Although customization can feel like it makes things more complicated than just getting a “standard kettle”, it can also be viewed as making things simpler because you don’t have to invent a complicated workaround because your kettle doesn’t have the features you want. And doing internet searches of all the options out there can leave your head swimming as you try to find exactly what you want. If you find yourself in this scenario, custom kettle configuration is a great thing.

The most obvious customization choice is the kettle size. Blichmann offers choices on the smaller side that some vendors don’t (as small as 7.5 gallons), and they go up on the big size beyond others (as big as 55 gallons). Once you decide on the size of your kettle, you need to decide what type of ports/fittings you want. They give you the option of both the age-old standard of 1/2″ NPT, or the latest preference of Tri-Clamp (or Tri-Clover if you prefer, or simply TC). The 1/2″ NPT is handled via weldless fittings with o-rings.

Blichmann BoilerMaker G2 Kettle

This is built around Blichmann’s G2 Kettle.  See our Hands on Review of the G2

Related: Hands on Review: Blichmann Engineering BoilerMaker G2 Mash Tun

Your customization order is done online through Blichmann’s website. You first pick which style of fittings you want on your kettle- TC or Threaded NPT. The minimum kettle requirement is a port for a drain valve. Everything else is optional. You can add a thermometer port, and you pick the location of it, as well as whether you want an analog or digital thermometer to be kitted for you. You can add the sight glass for volume markings or go without. You also have the option of adding any of these: AutoSparge, HERMS Coil, BoilCoil, Whirlpool port/valve, False Bottom, and HopBlocker. You can make it as complicated or as simple as you want it.

1-inch TC Sight Glass Added to Output

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Homebrew Keg Post Thread Size Reference

cln_img_3027It can be tough tracking down the right 

Keg Type Gas Post Size – Thread Liquid Post Size – Thread Product Link

  • Cornelius Spartan 19/32″ – 18 19/32″ – 18
  • Cornelius R (Pin Lock) 19/32″ – 18 (2 Pin) 19/32″ – 18 (3 Pin)
  • Firestone A (Pin Lock) 9/16″ – 18 (2 Pin) 9/16″ – 18 (3 Pin)
  • Firestone R (Pin Lock) 9/16″ – 18 (2 Pin) 9/16″ – 18 (3 Pin)
  • Firestone Challenger 11/16″ – 18 3/4″ – 18
  • Firestone Super Challenger 9/16″ – 18 5/8″ – 18
  • Firestone V Challenger 9/16″ – 18 5/8″ – 18
  • Firestone VI Challenger 9/16″ – 18 5/8″ – 18
  • John Wood 85 11/16″ – 18 3/4″ – 18
  • John Wood RA (Pin Lock) 9/16″ – 18 (2 Pin) 9/16″ – 18 (3 Pin)
  • John Wood RC (Pin Lock) 9/16″ – 18 (2 Pin) 9/16″ – 18 (3 Pin)
  • Super Champion 19/32″ – 18 19/32″ – 18
  • AEB Kegs 19/32” – 18 19/32″ – 18

Thanks to Keg Outlet for this information. They carry many of these options.

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Kegerator Draft Line Cleaning Options!

Clean kegerator lines are a key part of serving delicious beer. Bacteria and mineral build in lines can cause off flavors, quick loss of head, under-carbonated beer due to rapid co2 loss and lack of legs forming on the inside of your beer glass.

How Often Should You Clean Lines?

The Draught Quality Beer Manual says… every two weeks.

That recommendation is for a commercial operation.  What about homebrewers?  We serve far fewer beer on our kegerators, but on the other hand, we can have been on tap and in lines 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  Considering all of this, my recommendation is every 1 to 2 months.

Line Cleaning Options

Our Line Cleaning Builds:

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Hands on Review: Blichmann Engineering BoilerMaker G2 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.

Blichmann Engineering Mash Tun

When selecting a mash tun, there are lots of choices out there. There are all-in-one electric systems, converted Igloo coolers, aluminum stovetop pots, and many different types of stainless steel kettles. If you’re not going down the path of the all-in-one unit, stainless steel is usually the predominant choice. That’s because it is sturdy, easy to clean, has a very broad temperature range, and doesn’t contain questionable stuff that comes with that California Prop 65 warning.

Blichmann BoilerMaker G2 Kettle

This mash tun is built around Blichmann’s G2 Kettle.  See our Hands on Review of the G2

Handles with Cool Grip Comfort Pads

Blichmann’s kettle offering is the BoilerMaker G2. It’s made from 304 Stainless Steel and has a brushed finish. According to Blichmann, although both inside & out have a brushed finish, the inside is a bit smoother to make stuff less likely to cling to it. The kettle has volume markings on it, but instead of etched or stamped markings, it uses a borosilicate sight glass with volume markings on the outside of the kettle. The handles are located at the front and rear of the kettle, so when you’re carrying it, you don’t have the drain valve sticking out in front of you at risk of banging into things or facing the other way and digging into your leg.

Kettle with Temperature Port Offset to Side

The kettle comes with either welded 1.5” TC ports or weldless ½” NPT Threaded fittings for a drain valve attachment and a thermometer port. For the thermometer port you can get either an analog dial thermometer with an adjustable angle face, or a digital BrewVision. The kettle comes with the Blichmann Linear Flow Valve for the drain, but the TC kettle also has an option for a butterfly valve. The Linear Flow Valve’s exit comes out at a 90-degree angle from the inlet, and you can point it in whatever direction you want to eliminate tight hose bends or having to add an additional 90-degree elbow fitting.

Welded TC Port on OutsideWelded TC Port on Inside

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The Boilermaker comes with many customization options. If you want it to be an electric boil kettle, you can order it with the Blichmann Boil Coil. You can even take the customization further and select additional ports and add-on additional Blichmann kettle accessories. Beyond the add-on features, you can pick the size- from as small as 7.5 gallons to as big as 55 gallons.

If you plan to use the kettle as a mash tun, the Blichmann Button Louver false bottom is made to fit inside the kettle and connect with the pickup tube that feeds the drain valve. The false bottom sits on the stepped bottom rim in the kettle, and the pickup tube passes through a hole in the false bottom, drawing wort from below it. The false bottom is covered with small 1” circular stampings (where the “button” part of the name comes from) which are slit along the sides (for the “louver” part of the name). With this design, the gaps are on a vertical edge, not on the flat horizontal face. That means you don’t have gallons of water and grain pushing down on your cracked grains, trying to push them through slits or holes like most false bottoms do.

Last on the list of nifty features is the lid. Lids don’t do much on kettles, and generally are pretty boring. Blichmann made their lid do something others don’t. Instead of the normal handle bracket welded on both ends, they left one end open, so it forms a type of hook/hanger. With the cantilevered hanger design, not only can you hook it to the kettle handle, but you can hang it from any side of the kettle, simply by hooking it over the rim.

Hands on Review

I evaluated a 10 Gallon G2 kettle with the Button Louver false bottom, to use as a Mash Lauter Tun in my 2-vessel brewing setup. The 10 Gallon size worked great for 5-gallon batches. The look of the kettle right away stood out as different. The brushed finish made it less shiny than highly polished kettles I’ve used before when pulling it out of the box. However, the brushed finished meant it stayed bright and consistent after several brews. I found the brushed finish inside seemed to require a bit more effort to clean afterwards than my smooth kettles. But if I compared the amount of effort to get my smooth kettles shiny and new looking, the brushed finish was easier to get it back to “like new” finish. So what initially seemed like a downside, was actually a benefit.

The other thing I noticed when pulling it out of the box was its weight. It felt lighter than other kettles. Sometimes there are legit reasons to brag about gauge thickness of your kettle. The beefier it is, generally the more resistant to wear & tear and potential denting. However, when you’re talking about kettles in the region of 5-gallon batches, clean-up usually means lugging them somewhere to clean/rinse them. And when you’re doing that, you appreciate a kettle that isn’t thicker just for bragging rights. The Blichmann kettle seemed robust enough to be considered sturdy, and it seemed a good balance when lugging it around for cleaning.

Hands down the most impressive feature of using the Blichmann BoilerMaker as a mash tun was the Button Louver false bottom. Technically this is an add-on, and not part of the kettle. But if you buy the kettle to use as a mash tun, you of course buy the false bottom. I’ve used different designs of false bottoms in different mash tuns, but none have worked as well as the Button Louver one. I had previously optimized my grain crush on another mash tun to be at a point that I didn’t get a stuck mash, but still had good mash efficiency. I was milling my grain at a 0.033” gap on a 3-roller MM-3 Monster Mill. On my other mash tun this resulted in good mash efficiency, no stuck mashes, and a small amount of grain fragments that made their way into the boil kettle. This same grain crush setup on the Blichmann false bottom gave me the same mash efficiency, no stuck mashes, but I was shocked to see no grain bits in the boil kettle. I thought this was a fluke on my first batch, but I watched it on a total of seven test batches with the same results.

Button Louver Closeup

The one exception to this “grain free” performance happened once during my trials. I found later that what happened was I dislodged the washer on the pickup tube where it goes through the false bottom. The washer is a loose piece that has a tight clearance around the pickup tube and blocks an oversized hole in the false bottom. While stirring the grains during mashing in, I stirred too deeply and scraped this washer up. Grain got under it, and I then had a large hole where grain could get through while recirculating the mash. By the end of my 60-minute mash, the grain was able to set up a decent filter bed, and I only got a few debris in the boil kettle during sparging. But I did have to do some clearing of my recirculation tubing at the start of the mash to get the giant slug of grain out of there. Now I know to not stir so deep as to scrape across that washer.

Linear Flow Valve with TC Ends


The G2 BoilerMaker kettle worked well for me. The lighter weight made it nicer when it came time to cleaning and moving the kettle over to the sink. The brushed finish grew on me after a few batches, as I recognized it kept the kettle looking as good after several brews as it did when I pulled it out of the box. The Button Louver false bottom earned a spot in my unofficial list of “favorite brewing gear” with its stellar performance of keeping grain particles out yet still providing plenty of pass-through liquid slots. With the ability to custom-order the kettles with the types of fittings, number of fittings, and location of fittings, it can be a great tool for many types of use.

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More Photos

Brushed Finish InteriorPickup Tube with Over-molded GasketTri-Clamp with GasketWasher Accidentally Lifted Allowing Grain to Pass Underneath

More Blichmann Engineering Reviews!

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More Tri-Clover/Tri-Clamp:

Special Thanks to Blichmann Engineering for providing the unit used for evaluation in this review.

By Brad Probert.  Check out Brad’s website –

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.

Price, promotions and availability can change quickly. Check the product page for current price, description and availability. review:blichmash tag:tpr

Hands on Review: Kegland Fill-O-Meter

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.

Kegland Fill-O-Meter

Homebrewing is full of gadgets. There are some things that are high tech versions of common equipment everyone has and uses. Then there are gadgets that are unique in what they do. They maybe aren’t a requirement for brewing, or aren’t things you’d find in every brewer’s toolbox. The Kegland Fill-O-Meter is definitely one of these. The Fill-O-Meter has two functions- turning on & off the water flow, and measuring the amount of water that goes through it. The intersection of these two functions is where it becomes a handy tool in the home brewery.

Fill-O-Meter in BoxSpecs on Side of Box

The Fill-O-Meter has ½” threaded inlet and outlet ports. They are BSP thread, not NPT, so you need to be extra careful when tightening on any NPT fittings to make sure you don’t strip out any threads or end up with leaks. The solenoid inside has a fail-safe such that if you lose power for some reason, the solenoid stays closed and prevents water from flowing. The unit comes with a 24V power supply plug to run the on/off solenoid, as well as the LCD backlit digital screen. The screen displays the current flow rate (in gallons/minute or liters/minute), your target water volume, and how much water has flowed past it since you turned it on. You can select for the display to be in units of US Gallons, or in Liters. You also have the option to display language in English or Chinese (if you’re in the mood). You can also tweak the flowmeter calibration constant to improve the accuracy for your given setup or if you’re going to measure in US gallons (adjustment needed, as explained in my hands on review section).

Contents of Box- Meter and Power Supply

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Fill-O-Meter – Water Measuring Flow Meter Device BE671 – at MoreBeer

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Hands on Review: BrüMate Hopsulator Trio

brumate hopsulator trio review

BrüMate Hopsulator Trio

I received a BruMate Hopsulator Trio as a birthday present from my beloved daugher. I had seem them around, but hadn’t had a chance to pick one up yet, so I was excited about the present.

BruMate makes a number of can coolers or high end coozies. These generally double wall insulated stainless steel construction and are designed to work with different sizes of cans and for some models (like the Trio), they’ll also function as tumblers all by themselves.

Hands on Review

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Review: Barebottle Brewing Company Torcido Lager – Homebrew Recipe Kit

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.

Torcido Lager is a Mexican Lager. Sort of. I don’t know much about the style definition of a Mexican Lager, but MoreBeer’s site describes the recipe creation from Barebottle Brewing (San Francisco, CA) as non-traditional. Apparently, Barebottle likes mixing things up, so they describe this beer as a Mexican Pilsner with a German Helles twist. For Barebottle, this beer scored a Gold in the 2019 GABF, so crazy description aside, I figured the beer had some cred behind it.

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Unboxing and Kit Inventory

I ordered un-milled grains, as I like to have control of the grain crush. The malts were packaged in pre-measured bags, with Viking Pilsner Malt, Weyerman CaraHell, and some flaked maize. The hops came in light-proof, thick bags, where the hops were nitrogen flushed before bagging. In addition to the pellet hops, there was a Kick Carrageenan tablet- a clarifier used in the boil kettle. The recipe kits from MoreBeer don’t come with a specific yeast, instead they give you a list of yeast recommendations from some of the different yeast vendors they carry (White Labs, Wyeast, Omega, and Fermentis Dry). Following the style-bucking trend of the recipe creator, MoreBeer suggested I try a Cellar Science dry yeast called Berlin. In addition to the ingredients, there was a recipe card with basic brewing directions, a cut-out shape to go with the MoreBeer custom tap handle, and a sheet of basic brewing process tips.

Berlin Yeast

As I had plans to do a fermentation side-by-side experiment, I actually brewed this with two recipe kits combined into one batch to make a single ~11-gallon batch to split between two fermentors. This was easily managed in my 15-gallon kettles

Brew Day

Full Kettle Rolling Boil

The recipe directions were very general. For example, they gave mash temperature, but didn’t specify a mash time. For seasoned brewers, this is a welcome flexibility, since we all have our particular opinions on certain process details. For newbies, this might mean a little outside research is required, which could be a good learning experience anyway. The recipe called for a 148F mash. My previous experience led me to mash for 75 minutes at that lower mash temperature, and I always finish every mash with a 10-minute rest at 168F. I adjusted water with brewing salts to match Brewfather’s “Pilsen (Light Lager)” water profile and lactic acid to adjust the pH. I ended up with a measured pH of 5.57 in the mash, higher than the 5.3 I was targeting. I then did a 60-minute boil, where I added the hops as per the schedule. I added the Kick Carrageenan tablet with 5 minutes left in the boil. Same as last time I used this clarifying tablet, long strings of things formed in the kettle that I don’t normally see with my Irish Moss. I hit an Original Gravity of 1.044, with a slightly higher mash efficiency than I expected.


Direct Pitching the Dry Yeast

After the wort was chilled post-boil, I filled two FermZilla All Rounder fermentorsHands on Review, alternating the flow back and forth between the two fermentors until they were both at equal volume of about 5.4 gallons in each. I’ve only fermented with dry yeast one other time over several years of brewing. I’ve read about the ideal process of rehydrating the yeast before pitching. But digging into the details of this, that was a lot more headache than I wanted to entertain, so I just pitched the yeast into each fermentor straight from the pack. I used 2 packs in each fermentor, to ensure I had a good pitch. Since one pack is intended to inoculate a full 5-6 gallon batch, I definitely had sufficient yeast cell count.

Oxygenating the Wort After Split into Two Fermentors

The first batch I fermented at typical cool lager temperatures using a Cool Zone Brewing stretchy Velcro cooling manifold on the outside of the fermentor. I started this one off at 55F and held there for 5 days, allowing CO2 to escape through a blowoff tube. I then gradually bumped up the temperature by about 2 degrees whenever I saw the SG rate start to slow, as I monitored gravity continually with a Tilt. The gravity drop really slowed after about 12 days but kept slowly dropping so I let it finish out at 64F. It stayed in the fermentor until 20 days, reaching a FG of 1.012 (4.2% ABV), or 72% apparent attenuation. I moved the whole fermentor into my beer fridge to cold crash. After 3 days in the 35F fridge, I pushed it into a purged keg using bottled CO2 for a closed transfer, then hooked it up to CO2 for ‘set it & forget it’ carbonation.

Cold Crashing Fermentor in Fridge

The second fermentor I left sitting in my basement without any temperature control. Out of my counterflow chiller, the wort started at 62F in the fermentor. I left the spunding valve open for the first 24 hours to give the yeast a chance to get started, then I closed down the spunding valve to build pressure. Keeping an eye on the pressure, it climbed about 1.5 psi every hour. Once it reached 14 psi after 10 hours, I adjusted the spunding valve to regulate there. With cool basement temperatures, it stayed at 62F and 14 psi for 3 more days. As gravity drop started to slow, I raised the temperature over the next 3 days until I reached 72F. At that point, I left things at 72F and 14psi as gravity continued to drop very slowly. Finally, 23 days after my initial yeast pitch, gravity had been stable long enough and I moved the whole fermentor into my beer fridge to cold crash. It reached a lower FG than my cold-fermented sample, measuring a FG of 1.009 (4.6% ABV), or 79% apparent attenuation. After 3 days in the 35F fridge, I pushed it into a purged keg using bottled CO2 for a closed transfer, then hooked it up to CO2 for ‘set it & forget it’ carbonation.

Initial Impressions

I’ll first share my impressions about the beer overall, then I’ll get into the comparison of the split batch. The beer came out really well. I wasn’t sure what a German Helles/Mexican Lager would taste like, and I’ll admit I was skeptical about both the flaked maize and dry yeast. But I found the distinct contribution from the flaked maize of a light sweet aroma as well as mild sweetness in the initial taste made it super inviting. And the yeast stayed out of the way from a flavor contribution, other than it maybe tweaked the sweetness a bit, which worked well with the small bite from the Crystal and Saaz hops. It was flavorful and easy drinking. With the ABV 4.2 – 4.6%, it made a great session beer.

Pressure vs Cold

The point of this side by side test was to see how a beer fermented in the recommended cold range and not under pressure, compared to a beer fermented warmer that was under pressure. The concept/question being, can your lager turn out just as good, even if you’re fermenting at room temperature and not messing around with trying to keep it cool during fermentation?

I’d done a bit of online research, plus a few split batch experiments with fermenting under pressure previously, so I knew enough to have a plan for how to handle this batch. I followed my process goal of not doing any wort cooling, but the pressure ferment batch started out pretty cool. I would guess that had I been fermenting under pressure at 72F instead of 62F, I would have gotten different results. But this did meet a recommendation from a yeast manufacturer that for best results on pressurized fermentation you should try to start fermentation at least at the top end of the recommended temperature range (Berlin yeast recommended range of 54-62F). Those disclaimers out of the way, I could detect a notable difference when the beer was very young, after ~1 week in the keg. At that point, the cold fermented beer had a great aroma and sweet taste of the maize, whereas the pressure fermented beer had an astringent aftertaste.

Fermentors Filled and Yeast Pitched

When I tasted again at 4 weeks lagering, I could still detect those flavor trends, but both were less pronounced. In my blind tastings for myself, I was able to distinguish the beers, typically due to the slight astringency in the pressure fermented beer. I poured 2 samples of each into opaque cups, then randomly shuffled the cups and selected 3 of the 4 cups for tasting. I then determined which 2 cups were the same beer, and which was the odd beer out. I also did the same blind tasting process with some neighbors. Altogether, out of the 9 tasters, 6 were able to separate the beers, as summarized below.

Pressure Ferment After Reaching 14 psiBeers 21 Days After Kegging

Blind Tasting

9 Blind Tastings

  • 3 Could not identify
  • 6 Could identify
    • 4 Preferred cold-fermented
    • 1 Preferred pressure-fermented
    • 1 No preference

Custom Tap Handle and Included Insert

Custom Tap Handle for Recipe Card Insert or Chalk Writing on Blank Inserts.  Note: All MoreBeer recipe kits include a free insert that works with this tap handle.

Tap Handle with Included Professionally designed insert


The recipe kit was made up of good quality ingredients, as the clean taste of the finished lager attested to. I learned that maize could be an ingredient used with intention for flavor and is not just a cheap malt substitute. I also found the Cellar Science Berlin dry yeast to be a clean lager yeast with nice flavor contributions without the baggage of diacetyl or sulphur. And my pressurized fermentation experiment showed me that you can get pretty close in flavor without using fermentation cooling equipment, but cold fermentation still provided a better character overall.

Related, Review (LOTS More Info) Continues Below:

Fermentation Data Plots

Fermentation Plots using TILT Bluetooth HydrometerHands on Review

Pressure Ferment Fermentation PlotPressure Build at Start of Pressure FermentComparison- Cold vs Pressure Ferment

More Photos

Cooling Jacket Velcro’d Around One FermentorAppx 0.2 Gallons Yeast Sludge After Cold CrashKick TabletsFlaked CornWeyermann CaraHell Viking PIlsner MaltCrystal HopsSaaz Hops

Get a Deal on Bulk Grain:

deals on sacks of malt

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Special Thanks to MoreBeer for providing the kit used for evaluation in this review.

By Brad Probert.  Check out Brad’s website –

review:b3torcido tag:tpr