Category Archives: Reviews & Top Posts

Getting a Deal on Bottles for Your Homebrew

New Or Used Bottles?

Using new bottles saves time cleaning bottle labels and insures you have a completely clean and ready to sanitize bottle. I know of some homebrewers that use new bottles for every batch while some use new bottles for competitions and others buy new bottles and re-use time and time again.

Used bottles have the advantage of being cheap or free. De-label, clean and sanitize.

Getting a Deal on New Bottles

Tip: Shop Around – Prices and availability can vary wildly. If you want cases of new bottles, shop around to get the best deal.

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Hands on Review: Kegland Stainless Steel Counterflow Chiller

kegland chiller review

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 Stainless Counterflow Chiller

In the past, I did some trials on the different types of wort chillers, and ended up with a counterflow chiller as the best solution for me. Of course, it depends on what you are prioritizing as a feature. Plate chillers are the fastest, but after I had a clogging incident, I had no confidence I could ever get it 100% clean again. Immersion chillers (even fancy ones) were slower, but most notably, they required me to continually bob them up and down in order to really be effective. The counterflow chiller is fast, and the relatively large passageways mean you don’t have to worry about debris clogging them up.


Limited Time Deal:

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Here’s how a Counter Flow Chiller (CFC) works. You wort flows inside a smaller diameter tube, which sits inside a larger diameter tube that’s filled with your cooling water. Heat gets drawn out of the wort through the conductive walls of the inner tube (made of heat-conductive metal like copper or stainless steel). To keep the package size compact, these very long lengths of tubing get coiled up on top of each other like a snake. And there are 4 connections- wort in, wort out, cooling water in, cooling water out.

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Hands on Review: Kegco 1 Gallon Ball Lock Kegs

Why Smaller Kegs?

Smaller kegs are good for small space kegging, splitting batches (easily try a variation of your larger batch), small batch brewers and for easily serving on the go.  Since this is smaller than most small kegs (usually 2.5 to 3 gallons), you could also use it to push cleaning and sanitizing solution without wasting a lot of CO2 pressurizing head space.

I bought this particular keg up because of it’s small size. It’s essentially a large growler. Because it’s ball lock, all the existing gear I have is compatible.

Hands on Review 1 Gallon Kegco Ball Lock Keg

A look at the kegDetails are stamped on the side. P/N KCAB1G-SH, Capacity 1.32 US Gallons/5 Liters. Material SS 304. AEB Made in Italy.  I’m actually quite surprised and pleased that this is actually made by AEB in Italy. I’ll make the general statement that I believe AEB kegs, made in Italy, are some of the best kegs around.  This is a unique size. 2.5 and 3 gallon kegs have been around for quite some time, I’ve even seen 1.75 gallon kegs. 1 gallon kegs are uncommon.


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More AEB Kegs:

Note: This review features a Kegco Keg that was manufactured by AEB in Italy. Not all Kegco kegs are necessarily manufactured by AEB.


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Hands on Review: Pumpzilla Brewing Pump

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

Hands on Review Pumpzilla Brewing Pump

One of the best investments I made years ago was adding a pump to my homebrew arsenal. Pumps move hot water to your mash tun and makes vorlaufing easy. They circulate wort to make chilling faster and it moves your brew into a fermentor. For me, it helped saved me from back aches the day after I brewed because I would have to lift a very heavy mash tun in my gravity setup.

Now there is a cost effective option, the Pumpzilla. It has some flaws, but they far outweigh the advantages from not having a pump.

Pumpzilla Specifications and Features

  • Stainless Steel head
  • Can be set on a flat surface by itself without tipping over
  • Quiet Operation
  • Center inlet design makes it easy to prime this pump as the head is easily flooded with wort
  • Inlet and outlet fittings are 1/2 in. male NPT so they will work with any of your standard homebrew fittings
  • Water resistant (not proof!) casing
  • 5 ft. Cord
  • On/Off Switch
  • Max Flow – 5 Gal / 19L per minute
  • Max Lift – 11 ft
  • Heat Rating: 100C (212F)
  • Voltage – 120v 60Hz
  • Current – 0.75A

Hands on Review

After opening the Pumpzilla packaging the first thing I noticed was how well it was built. The pump itself was dense and felt really rugged. The stainless steel head is always a plus over some plastic headed pumps you see at the same price point. An additional feature was a rocker switch on the wiring. In the absence of that one would either have to physically plug and unplug a pump to turn it on and off or attach it to a power strip with an on/off switch. The rocker switch has a very small hash mark to indicate “on”.


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PUMPZILLA BREWING PUMP WITH STAINLESS STEEL HEAD via Great Fermentations


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Hands on Review: Inkbird IHT-1S Digital, Instant Read, Waterproof, Rechargeable Thermometer

This review is by Homebrew Finds Contributor Michael Gom.  Read more about Michael below.

Hands on Review: Inkbird Digital Food Thermometer IHT-1S

This is a rechargeable, advertised as Waterproof IP67 and has an advertised response time of ~2 – 3 seconds.

Unboxing

FrontBackFollowing the same quality as the previous model I reviewed (IHT-1P), Inkbird packages their thermometer very well. Foam-fitted and compact.


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Inkbird Meat Thermometer IHT-1S, Instant Read Meat Thermometer Waterproof Digital Cooking Thermometer, Food Candy Thermometer for Kitchen, Food Cooking, Grill, BBQ, Smoker, Home Brewing, Coffee – note that multiple variations of this product may be available, as such a different version may appear at this link

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Hands on Review: KOMOS Rubicon Draft Jockey Box!

komos jockey box review

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.

Komos Rubicon Draft Box

There is a lot of equipment out there for making draft homebrew mobile. Like different tools in a toolbox, each one is designed for a given situation. A draft box or jockey box is ideal for a group/party situation where you’ll be serving your beer away from your home. Or maybe it’s still at your home, but you’re serving your beer at a party in your backyard and don’t want to have a constant flow of people in & out of your house to refill their cups. A jockey box is made from a regular picnic cooler and has standard shanks/taps mounted through the wall, and a length of beer line inside sitting on ice to keep beer cold as it heads to the faucets.

Complete Contents

The first building block of a jockey box is the cooler you install the hardware in. The Komos Rubicon Draft Box uses a heavy-duty roto molded cooler as its base. It has a tough 2.5 mm thick skin, and in-between is filled with high density foam to provide insulation. With most coolers, you get all your heat transfer through a plastic-to-plastic fit with the lid. But the Komos has a thick, engineered seal, and uses two stretchy rubber latches to keep it compressed down tight. Rounding out its features, it has rope handles with molded grips, and 4 broad durable rubber feet on the bottom to prevent it from sliding around or scratching the surface it sits on.

Anti-Skid Feet on Bottom of CoolerLid SealThreaded Drain Plug with SealStretchy Rubber Latches to Hold Cover ClosedRope Handles and Grips


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Getting a Deal on Cans for Your Homebrew Can Seamer

Why Can?

Cans block all light and oxygen transfer. That’s not true of bottles. They also play well at the park, beach and pool. Glass bottles are made from breakable glass that can… break. 🙂 Canning is also… cool. We’ve been able to pretty easily do everything that commercial brewers have been able to do – Conicals, Control Panels, Fermenting Under Pressure and More – for quite some time. Canning, until recently, was a hold out.

Homebrew Can Seamers

Before the advent of countertop can seamers, canning beer was out of reach and unrealistic for homebrewers and even some smaller brew pub operations.  I looked into canning early in my homebrewing career. Around that time a manufacturer released an “affordable” system that was in the $10k, range. That was considered affordable at the time. I’m happy to say that times have changed.

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What’s the Difference? ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4 vs Classic Thermapen + Final Closeout!

compare thermapen mk4 to classicIf you’re trying to decide between the newer Thermapen Mk4 and the Thermapen Classic, I can tell you they’re both… awesome.

The Mk4 is newer and has some upgrades. Are those upgrades worth it? This post aims to help you understand those so you can pick the model that’s right for your needs.


Related: Best Price Ever + Closeout

Closeout!… ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4 – $69, Save 30%, Lowest Price Ever – New Closeout Rumors Q & A


How the Thermapen Mk4 and Classic are the Same

  • 2-3 second readings
  • High accuracy to ±0.7°F (±0.4°C)
  • Foldaway thermocouple probe
  • Display temps in °C or °F

How the Thermapen Mk4 and Classic are Different

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Hands on Review: Oktober Design SL1 Can Seamer – Can Your Homebrew!

Oktober Design was started in 2014 by a group of engineers and beer lovers. They make high quality, well thought out and affordable Crowler and Can seamers.  Their target has been brew pubs and smaller commercial brewers. With the introduction of the SL1 they’ve finally made a machine designed specifically for homebrewers.

Before Oktober Designs and similar started making countertop can seamers, canning beer was out of reach and unrealistic for homebrewers and even some smaller brew pub operations.  I looked into canning early in my homebrewing career. Around that time a manufacturer released an “affordable” system that was in the $10k, range. That was considered affordable at the time. I’m happy to say that times have changed.

Why Can?

Cans block all light and oxygen transfer. That’s not true of bottles. They also play well at the park, beach and pool. Glass bottles are made from breakable glass that can… break. 🙂 Canning is also… cool. We’ve been able to pretty easily do everything that commercial brewers have been able to do – Conicals, Control Panels, Fermenting Under Pressure and More – for quite some time. Canning, until recently, was a hold out.

Even with new equipment like the SL1 becoming available, canning is more expensive than bottling. You can save used bottles for free and use a $10 capper. This means that doing things as cheap as possible cannot be a driving factor when considering a can seamer.

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Hands on Review: Torpedo Ball Lock Kegs from MoreBeer

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.

MoreBeer 6-Gallon Torpedo Keg

Keg Label

Sometimes ideas come along that seem so obvious in hindsight. Every fermentor I have is 7+ gallons. I like that because it gives me plenty of headroom for krausen from active fermentation. It also allows me to brew a bigger batch in the event I have a lot of dry hopping. But with the bigger fermentors, I will frequently have leftover beer after transferring to the keg. Not a lot, and not always, but it just feels wrong to leave that beer behind. So the 6-gallon keg is a logical fit for me.

Keg DiameterKeg Height Measurement

Torpedo Keg is a brand name of a series of ball lock kegs. They use the same size lid and follow the same standard of ball lock posts. But unlike Corny kegs that have rubber bottoms and tops, Torpedo kegs are made completely of stainless steel. The top/handle portion of the keg is taller, specifically to let you stack kegs on top of each other while still having gas and beer lines connected to the keg. There is also a Slimline version which has a slightly narrower diameter in exchange for a taller height. The 6-Gallon torpedo keg has a 9.125” diameter, and is 27.25” tall. In comparison, the standard ball lock Corny keg has an 8.375” diameter and 24.75” height. Although comparing these heights on paper can be deceiving since the Torpedo keg’s tall handles cover the height of attached ball lock fittings as well (additional 1.5” measured with my DuoTight fittings).


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