I purchased my MoreBeer.comUltimate Stainless Steel Sparge Arm about 4 years ago. I still consider it to be one of my very best home brewing purchases. It has been durable, functional, reliable and most importantly clog free for me over the years.
One home brewing modification that I recently did, made something great even better! In my home brewery, I use a electric heating bar that allows me to lock in the temperature of my mash with no fuss. I just recirculate my mash, set the desired temperature and I am done. The mash recirculates back into the mash tun via my stainless steel sparge arm. Previously, I would then disconnect the sparge arm from the mash tun and connect it to my hot liquor tank when it was time to mash out. Now with the new stainless steel manifold that I made for the sparge arm, it is much safer and as easy as turning a nob.
More Beer Stainless Steel Sparge Arm
The above photo illustrates how it works. I swapped out the existing ball valve and added in 3 mini stainless steel ball valves as well as a stainless steel 1/2″ tee fitting and 2 90 degree stainless steel elbows. The whole process only took about 30 minutes to complete. I then covered the high temp silicone tubing with stainless steel braiding to make them easier to handle, reduce kinking and make it look a little sharper. Here is a list of all of the parts that I purchase for the project:
Everything worked out great on the project. I tested for leaks and cleaned all of the parts well with a hot mixture of PBW home brewing cleaner and water. Just a couple of tips. I ran three loops of teflon tape for all of the connections. I tightened all of the fittings as tightly as I could. For the stainless steel 1/2″ braiding for the home brewing hoses, I ran a small .5″ pipe through it first to stretch it out, then inserted the silicone tubing and that made getting on the tube much easier. I can’t wait to put it all to good use on my next batch of homebrew, which will either be a Coconut Porter or a Hazy IPA. If you have any questions on anything, just hit me up with a comment or on Facebook.
It has been a little while since I got any cool new home brewing gear, so I was pretty excited when the Amazon guy dropped this package off! One of my good friends is going to be getting married later this month. I figured that I would bring some home brewed beer to help celebrate. I have a Milkshake Hazy IPA in the fermentation chamber that should finish up just in time. The wedding is about 8 hours away and I am unfortunately limited on how much I can bring. Unfortunately a full sized keg is out of the question. So I began my search and finally ended up selecting this 128 oz stainless steel mini keg draft beer dispenser.
After cleaning all of the items well and assembling the parts (took about 5 minutes), I put some beer in the mini keg to try it out and it worked perfectly. It has a mini regulator that features a gauge so that you can carefully control the PSI of your CO2. I set the PSI to 5 and it poured beer perfectly with out excess foam or spitting beer halfway across the room. They say that the CO2 cartridge should last for at least one mini kegs worth of beer but I have yet to deplete one. The mini keg beer dispenser holds right about 8 pints of beer and you can purchase additional 128 oz mini kegs separately for about $35 each. I have a 64 oz stainless steel mini keg that I am also planning on bringing with my latest Viking Double IPA so that I have a little variety. They also offer a insulator sleeve, but I am going to try an keep it in a bucket filled with ice, so hopefully that will do the trick.
Keeps beer vacuum pressured and fresh for up to 2 months
Perfect for any homebrew or craft beer
Each CO2 cartridge will pump around 128 oz of beer before depleting CO2 cartridge
Monitor the mini keg growler’s current PSI from the regulator gauge and fine tune pressure by rotating the adjustment knob
Add the optional insulator sleeve to help keep beer cold
The accessories and mini keg are all constructed with 304 food grade stainless steel
Includes a pressure release valve
Laser marked at the fill level
Includes metal screw on lid for easy portable transportation and storage
The perfect size to fits in your home fridge
Perhaps the best feature of this stainless steel mini keg was the price! Amazon has it on sale with free next day shipping for just $114! If you are in the market for a great little draft beer system to help you transport your homebrew for the holidays, you can use the following link.
The Best Electric Home Brewing Systems Under $1,000
There are two main methods of home brewing beer. One is called extract and the other is known as all grain home brewing. With extract, you use either powdered malt sugar or malt syrup that has been extracted for you. With all grain home brewing, you extract the starches from the grain yourself and then convert them to sugar during the mashing process. All grain home brewing is considered to be more advance than extract brewing since it is more complex and you have greater control over the beer you make.
If you have tried extract home brewing and are ready to move to all grain, I have created a list of my top 3 all in one turnkey all grain home beer brewing systems. For my list I have chosen 3 affordable home brewing systems that will allow you to brew 5 gallon batches of beer.
The RoboBrew v3 is an electric home brewing system costs $479 and comes with everything that you need to start brewing all grain beer recipes. The RoboBrew features a built-in magnetic drive pump to recirculate the wort during the mash for high efficient brewing. The RoboBrew also features dual electric heating elements run off of a single 110 volt plug and has individual switches allowing for more control over the heating process.
The RoboBrew’s digital control panel makes it easy to see the temperature as you brew. The Robo Brew’s digital temperature controller is also water resistant so you don’t need to worry about spills or some water dripping down the side. The Robo Brew home brewery includes a stainless steel malt pipe with false bottom allowing you to quickly shift from mash tun to boil kettle. The Robobrew v3 even includes a stainless steel wort chiller is shipped with bare ends so you can set it up for your situation.
The GrainFather home beer brewing system is an electric home brewing system costs $998. The Grain Father home beer brewing is an all in one Brewing System with a hefty feature set! The Grain Father has a small footprint and uses standard 120 v power. Mashing in the Grain Father takes place in the inner Stainless Steel brewing basket. The wort recirculates through the perforated plate. This Grain Father electric home brewing system includes a counter flow homebrewing chiller for cooling wort post boil. Best of all, the Grain Father uses the Connect Control Box in conjunction with the Connect App for the ultimate home beer brewing experience. The control box has Bluetooth connection to your mobile device so it can be controlled remotely making your brew day a snap.
If you are looking for the most cost effective all grain home brewing system available, look no further. The Brewer’s Edge plugs into any 110 volt GFI household outlet. The Mash and Boil features double wall stainless steel construction. This design enhancement conserves heat and lets you reach a boil faster! You can achieve a rolling boil with only 110 volts and 1600 watts! The Brewers Edge’s precise thermostat and internal sparge basket lets you mash and boil in the same vessel.
I initially purchased my March home brewing pumps about 7 years ago, well before stainless steel homebrew pumps were really a thing. Once stainless pumps became more popular, I considered upgrading, but my existing pumps worked fine and I could not justify the cost. Then Blichmann released their RipTide home brewing pumps which feature a tri-clamp attached head!!! In my opinion that is a big deal because it allows you to easily gain access to the pump cavity for easy cleaning. As it stood, I had to rely on hot water and PBW to do all of the cleaning unless I wanted to spend an extra 30 minutes breaking down, clean and then reassembling each of my March pumps; which is really not something I wanted to do after a long day of beer brewing. The one down side was that a new Blichmann Rip Tide home brewing pump will run you $199+. So I waited…..
Then, Blichmann release the RipTide Upgrade Kit! The Rip Tide Upgrade Kit allows you to upgrade some of the most common existing home brewing pumps to a Blichmann Rip Tide, for just $99. With this RipTide Kit, you can upgrade your March or Chugger pump with the Riptide’s Tri-Clamp housing. The RipTide’s head is made from stainless steel and can rotate 365 degrees to fit almost any home brewing setup. The kit also comes with Blichmann’s integral linear flow valve, which provides superior control and eliminates the need for an upper ball valve in must situations.
Blichmann Rip Tide Home Brewing Pump Upgrade Kit
Here is a list of home brewing pumps that the Blichmann Riptide upgrade kit is compatible with.
After verifying that the Blichmann RipTide Upgrade Kit would work with my current March homebrew pumps, I place my order for two of them. After placing my order, it took about 8 days for them to arrive. I purchased them from More Beer, but the pumps were shipped directly from Blichmann.
Next step was to read the instructions (which were relatively simple), make sure I had everything needed (which was just a screwdriver, a couple of wrenches and some PTFE thread seal tape. The instructions from Blichmann came in black and white and unfortunately the contrast made it so that it was difficult to see where the washer was supposed to go, so I included some color photos here to help you out if needed. I began by breaking down my existing march pump per the instructions and removing my existing fittings. It is important that you just remove the pump head and NOT the magnet collar! The pump head was held on by 4 stainless steel screws in my case. Here is an image to help:
Blacihmann Rip Tide Upgrade Instructions
Next I mounted my home brewing pump on to the included stainless steel pump riser. This was not required in my situation but I like the idea of it because it raised my pump up a couple of inches, bringing it close to my kettles, reducing the amount of tubing that I needed and giving me a little more space to empty the pumps when I had to clear wort from them. Everyone’s situation is a little different, but it works well on my home brewing rig. After that you will want to mount the Tri-Clamp adapter bracket on to your pump. Blichmann includes two sets of screws to use, so make sure that you select the appropriate screws for your pump. Be careful not to over tighten the screws; doing so could crack the bracket or damage the pump. Next, place the impeller housing and the impeller into the pump magnet as shown in the following images:
Blichmann Rip Tide Home Brewing Pump Upgrade Instructions
Next is where I nearly had a problem. Install the pump head o-ring and washer to the stainless steel RipTide pump head. My first kit was missing the washer and the photo quality on the instructions that came with the kit were so bad, I could not tell if I was suppose to use one of the mounting washers. Something did not seem right and I would have then been missing a mounting washer, so I checked my second pump kit and could see that there was a smaller washer that was intended for the pump head. It thankfully had two in that box, so all was good. Here is an image to help you see where to place the o-ring and washer into the Blichmann RipTide pump head:
RipTide Upgrade Kit Installation Photos
Lastly mount the Blichmann RipTide pump head on to your pump using the include stainless steel 3″ Tri-Clamp and attach any fittings that you may have. The entire process took me approximately 30 minutes per pump to upgrade an re-install onto my home brewing stand. Except for the issue with the washer, it was very painless. Here are a couple of photos of the Blichmann RipTide homebrewing pumps after they were installed on to my homebrewing rig.
Finished Images Of The Blichmann RipTide Pump Upgrade Kit
Blichmann RipTide Home brewing Pumps On My Homebrewing Rig
Close up Image of the Blichmann RipTide Home Brewing Pump
After that I tested the RipTide home brewing pumps for leaks and checked to make sure all of the ball valve connections were free from leaks as well. All was good and I also took a short video in case anyone was curious about the type of pressure or flow rate that you could expect from the RipTide upgrade kit.
I do not know about you, but I am not the biggest fan of having to store and maintain propane tanks. They take up space, run out of gas in the middle of a boil, the pressure changes when the tank gets too low and they are expensive to refill; and all the while I have natural gas available 10 feet away from my home brewery. So I decided that I would try converting my banjo burners from propane to natural gas. Let me start off by saying that I am not a professional plumber, a mechanical engineer, or a scientist that specialized in flammable gasses; so you should consult a professional. PLEASE CONSULT A LICENSED HEATING PROFESSIONAL FOR INFORMATION ON CONNECTING YOUR OUTDOOR BURNER TO YOUR HOUSE NATURAL GAS.
My home brewing setup uses 3 banjo burners and a 120v electric RIMS system to generate heat. So my first step was purchasing the natural gas valve to replace my existing propane valve. Since natural gas is pushed with a lower pressure than compressed liquid propane, you can not simply use the same valve. The good news is that the replacement valve is not that expensive.
Banjo Burner Natural Gas Valve
Williams brewing sells the valve for $9.99 and this Banjo Burner natural gas conversion valve is compatible with the Bayou Classic KAB4, KAB6, and BG14 Banjo burner. To use this valve, you will need a gas connection hose with a 3/8″ female flare end to attach to this valve to your natural gas source. This valve has an orifice diameter of approximately 1/8″, and features 1/4″ male npt threads to attach to your gas burner. These home brewing burner natural gas conversion valves also fit the Blichmann Top Tier Burners and Blichmann Floor standing burners. You can see the difference in the two burner valves in the following photo.
Converting Bayou Home Brewing Burners to Natural Gas
The natural gas replacement valve is on the left. You can see the gas outlet diameter is much larger than the propane on the right.
The process was pretty painless and I was able to replace all three burner valves and test for leaks in about 60 minutes. I used natural gas safe teflon sealant on all of the valves. One important factor to keep in mind is that natural gas is lower pressure than propane and you are going to put out less BTUs than you would with a propane tank. So if you were already struggling to achieve a boil with a propane tank, converting to natural gas is probably going to be a bad idea. I have yet to test how long it takes to reach a boil, but the flame tests all look great so far!
Converting A Home Brewery From Propane to Natural Gas
Once I have the test in, I will let you know how it work out!