Category Archives: Tips

Tips for Fighting Homebrew Boil-Overs!

Thanks to HBF Reader Case for this photo!  [8 Ways to Connect with HBF]

Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series.  Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts!


  • Start with a well-sized kettle.  Having some margin, gives you a better chance to fight the dreaded boil-over.
  • Be alert!  When your wort hits hot-break temperatures, boil-overs can happen quickly.
  • Adding hops is another potential boil-over inducing event that should be ready for.
  • Stir the Foam!  If you’re fighting a boil-over… stir the foam.  No need to stir the entire batch, just stir the very top to break up the foam more quickly.
  • A spray bottle of water (set to a moderate mist) works well to combat foam
  • A wooden spoon placed over the top of your brew kettle can help break up foam.  Personally I would not use this as primary defense.
  • FermCap-S Foam Control – This is designed to control foam.  It settles out during fermentation and actually helps increase head retention.
  • Search Amazon for “food safe spray bottle”
  • Search Amazon for “24 stainless whisk”
  • Related Review: Hands On: 24″ Stainless Steel Whisk – Extract, All Grain and Whirlpooling
  • Related Categories: StirringMash PaddlesPropane BurnersKettles

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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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Tip: Use High Quality Pitchers on Brew Day and Beyond

Rubbermaid Commercial Products FG321800CLR 4-Quart Bouncer Measuring CupPictured: Rubbermaid Commercial Products Bouncer Measuring Cup, 4-Quart, Clear, FG321800CLR via Amazon – Hands On Review

Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series.  Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts!


  • I recommend keeping a couple high quality pitchers around to use for measuring, mash recirculation, utensil storage, water and wort transfer, help cleaning and sanitizing smaller items and more.
  • Why having quality pitchers is great… There are several equipment purchases that I look back on and say… I’m really glad I got that, it’s made a big difference.  This pitcher, is one of those.  I went from a mish-mash of too small plastic pitchers, found around the house, that bent under the weight of wort, dripped and leached who knows what into my beer to two of these babies!  What a difference.
  • The FG321800CLR is designed for food service, food safe, high temp capable – up to 212 deg F, has volume markers, has an easy to use handle and is sturdy.
  • Shop Around, Search Amazon for “4 quart measuring pitcher” – look for food safe materials and temperature ratings within your required range.  Aluminum pitchers can work too, although a word of warning that Star San and aluminium do not place well together.  Not a deal breaker, just something to keep in mind as you use your new pitcher.
  • Review: Hands On: Rubbermaid Commercial Product 1 Gallon Bouncer Pitcher
  • Related Categories: All Grain, Brew Day, Pitchers

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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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Tip: Use Two Scales if You’re an All Grain Brewer

UltraShip 55 lb. Digital Postal Shipping & Kitchen ScalePictured: Ultraship Ultra-55 – via Amazon – Hands On Review

Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series.  Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts!

  • As all grain brewers we are generally weighing things in two categories.  Moderately large amounts of things – like grain – and smaller amounts of things – like hops and water salts.
  • Although weighing both types of things involve a scale, they are really wildly different activities.

But Why?

  • I’ll take the Ultraship Ultra-55 [Hands On Review] as an example.  That has been my go-to grain scale for years and years.  It has a large 55 lb capacity, the tare feature and the face removes so that you can weigh large items (like buckets of grain) and still easily read the display.
  • The Ultraship Ultra-55 has a resolution of 2 grams when weighing up to 1 kg (about 2.2 lbs).  From 2 lbs to 50 lbs it has a resolution of .5 oz.  If we’re weighing 20 lbs of 2 row, this works great.  If you’re 2 grams or a half an ounce off either way, it really doesn’t matter.  How about hops?  A 2 gram resolution would work in a pinch, but I don’t think most brewers would be happy with that.  Weighing water salts are completely of the question with this sort of precision/resolution.  But.. it’s a great grain scale.
  • Second example… American Weigh 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale [Hands on Review].  That scale has an outstanding 1/100th gram resolution.  That’s great for weighing hops accurately AND weighing water salts.  How about for your all grain grist bill?  It should be awesome right?  No.  100 grams equates to about .22 lbs.

The right tool for the job: As scale capacity goes up, resolution, precision and accuracy generally go down.  Very accurate scales with higher capacities do exist, but they’re very expensive.  If you’re looking for something like this or just want to see prices, try this search on Amazon.  It searches “high capacity lab scale” in the Industrial & Scientific category sorting from high to low price.

  • Recommendation: Use one larger capacity scale for measuring grain.  Important features to consider: Tare (allows you to subtract the weight of the container that’s being used), Pounds/Kilograms Display, Digital Readout, Either Auto Hold or a Removable Face (this allows you to weigh large objects like a bucket of grain.  An AC Adapter is also nice to have.  This Ultraship scale is what I use.  I’ve used it for years and have been very happy with it.  It features a removable face to easily weigh larger objects.
  • Recommendation: Use one smaller, more accurate scale for weighing hops, spices and water salts.  Tare, Pounds/Kilograms and Digital Readout are important for this one.  You’ll want something that measures to an accuracy of 1/10th of a gram.  You’ll be using grams for water salts and you should consider using grams for hops.  Consider the AWS-100

What about Extract Brewers?

If you’re an extract brewer or you can only keep one scale because of budget or space, look for something in the middle, something with an 11 to 15 lb capacity and a 1 gram resolution – something like this.  You can use that to weigh out grain bills – you may need to split your grain bill up into a couple batches to get under the capacity and 1 gram will work for hops.

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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Tip: Straighten Homebrew Tubing

Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series.  Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts!


  • If you have a length of tubing that is difficult to roll up correctly or otherwise sits incorrectly, try soaking it it warm or hot water (be very careful!) and then bend the tubing how you want it and let it cool.
  • Don’t exceed the maximum temp rating for your tubing
  • Search Amazon for “food safe tubing”
  • Related Top Post: Tips: Cleaning, Drying & Storing Tubing
  • Related Categories: Tubing

Tips: Cleaning, Drying & Storing Homebrew Tubing

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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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Fix It! Repairing Loose Cornelius Keg Handles and Bases

repair loose keg handlesPictured: Loose Handle/Bottom Ball Lock Keg via Adventures in Homebrewing

Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series.  Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts! This is a Top Post! See: All Top Posts


A loose corny keg handle or base can be an annoyance.  If your keg is in otherwise good shape, it may make sense to repair a loose handle or base.

This technique comes via Facebook friend Jason Connect with HBF on Facebook].  Thank you Jason!

Continue reading

Use a Wallpaper Prep Tray for Cleaning, Sanitizing and Storage of Longer Brewing Items

Pictured: Zinsser 98030 30-Inch Wallpaper Prep Tray – via Amazon

Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series.  Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts! This is a Top Post! See: All Top Posts


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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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Tip: Using Undiluted PBW to Help with Bottle Label Removal

PBW Image Courtesy of MoreBeer.  Search PBW at MoreBeer

Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series.  Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts!


  • Soaking your bottles in hot PBW is not a new technique.  It works well and I would venture a guess that a lot of homebrewers do this.
  • Here’s the tip… If you have a label or bits of adhesive that are being stubborn,   Put a little bit of PBW right on a label or adhesive that’s giving you problems and scrub.  The grittiness of the PBW combined with it’s full strength application generally dissolves the label and adhesive in short order.
  • PBW can be rough on your hands when diluted.  That’s even more true when it’s undiluted.  I recommend using protective gloves when dealing with PBW.
  • Search Amazon for “elbow length cleaning gloves”
  • Search Amazon for “PBW Cleaner”
  • Search Amazon for “scrub pads”
  • Search MoreBeer for “PBW”
  • Related Categories: BottlingCleaning

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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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Homebrew CO2 Tank Tips – New or Used & Tank Size

1737Pictured: 20 lb CO2 Tank from MoreBeer

Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series.  Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts!

New or Used?  Do you have a local spot to get your CO2 tank refilled or does your local provider swap empty tanks for full?  If you have a vendor that refills tanks, that’s likely your best bet.  In that case new or used tanks can make sense.  If your vendor swaps out tanks, I recommend considering a good used CO2 tank.  Don’t buy a new CO2 tank unless you’re certain that you have a good local source that will refill tanks.  It doesn’t make any sense to buy a shiny new tank and then swap it out for a used tank right away.

Get a big CO2 tank.  At my supplier, it costs around $20 to swap out an empty 5 lb tank.  It costs around $25 to swap out an empty 20 lb tank.  It’s more than 3 times the cost to refill the smaller tank!  With the example prices, 20 lbs of CO2 would cost $80 with a 5 lb tank vs $25 for a 20 lb tank.  That’s a $55 savings.  I recommend getting as large of a CO2 tank as you can for your space.  This will pay for itself in both in time and money.

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

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Using Polypropylene Lab Bottles to Rehydrate Yeast

Bel-Art Precisionware Wide-Mouth 500ml (16oz) Autoclavable Polypropylene Bottles; Polypropylene Cap, 53mm Closure (Pack of 12) (F10632-0007)Pictured: (12) 500 mL Polypropylene Jars with 53 mm closures by Bel-Art Products – via Amazon

Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series.  Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts!

  • Note: This tip involves handling hot items.  Always use extreme caution when handling hot items to avoid being scalded.
  • In my opinion, Polypropylene is a good material for this.  It is commonly used in lab bottles and has a higher heat resistance when compared to HDPE and LDPE.
  • The pictured bottle is what I personally use.  There are lots of options out there.  Search Amazon for Polypropylene Lab Bottles to see what else may be available,  Some things to look for – proper temp ratings, use of food safe materials and microwaveable.
  • Consult your yeast manufacturer for specific amounts, temperatures and timing recommendations.

Rehydrating Yeast Step by Step

  • Place the appropriate amount of water in the bottle.  Some manufacturers recommend 10 grams of water per 1 gram of yeast.  Most packets are 11 grams.  That’s 110 grams.
  • Use an accurate gram scale to weigh the water.  For a common measurement like 110 grams, I mark my bottle with a Sharpie so I can easily measure out rehydration water without needing to weigh every time.
  • Place the lid on top of the bottle.  Important: Do not thread or tighten the lid!  It will burst if you do that.  You just want the lid setting loosely on top so that it can be sanitized by the steam.
  • Microwave until the water comes to a full boil.
  • Cooling to Temp, Slow Option: Let the bottle sit with cap loosened until it reaches proper hydration temperature.
  • Cooling to Temp, Quick Option: Very carefully tighten the cap down.  Run cool water over the bottle to reach proper rehydration temp.  This is going to be hot, be very careful!  I use heat resistant gloves for this.  The cooling will most likely cause the container to collapse on itself and could slightly misform it.
  • I use an Infrared thermometer to check temp as cooling commences.  Note that I do not open the bottle to check temp.  Just aim the IR thermometer at the mass of water inside the bottle.  I’m usually aiming for around 95 deg F.
  • Sprinkle the dry yeast in the container and place the lid on back on the bottle.  Let this sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Gently swirl bottle to ensure the yeast is thoroughly mixed.
  • Pitch when you’re ready.
  • This method ensures a sanitary process.  The initial container and water are sanitized and there is no touching of the water with thermometers or stirring devices.
  • You could use a similar method to produce yeast washing water.
  • Search Amazon for “Polypropylene Lab Bottles” – Some things to look for – proper temp ratings, use of food safe materials and microwaveable.
  • Search Amazon for “digital gram scale”
  • Search Amazon for “infrared thermometer”
  • Search Amazon for “heat resistant kitchen gloves”
  • Review: Hands On: American Weigh 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale
  • Related Categories: YeastScales, Infrared Thermometers

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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Tip: Use an Infrared Thermometer for Select Homebrewing Tasks

Etekcity Lasergrip 774 Non-contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer Temperature Gun -58℉~ 716℉ (-50℃ ~ 380℃), Yellow and BlackPIctured: Etekcity Lasergrip 774 Non-contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer Temperature Gun -58℉~ 716℉ (-50℃ ~ 380℃), Yellow and Black – via Amazon

Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series.  Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts!


  • These (can be) inexpensive and give you a no-touch way to measure the temperature of something.
  • Since these are no touch, you can check the temp of yeast washing and yeast rehydration water and your starter wort without the risk of infection.  I find mine particularly useful for rehydrating yeast (See Tip 1).
  • In my opinion, Infrared thermometers should not be considered a direct replacement for your standard thermometer.  A quality IR thermometer will give you a close approximation of surface temperatures.  In my experience steam seems to throw off readings.
  • Potential Uses Include: Contained yeast rehydration water, chilled wort or starter temperature, kegerator, fermenter or fermenation area and beer tasting samples.
  • Shop Around, Search Amazon for “Infrared Thermometer”
  • Related Categories: Thermometers, Infrared Thermometers

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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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