Picking up home fermentation/brewing

jseyfert3

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Brewed that American Pale Wheat beer today.
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Then I kegged the other batch of cider.
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Plan for this evening is to get more cider going, this time with Safale S-04 yeast, which hopefully will leave a slight amount of residual sweetness instead of fermenting bone dry.
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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You are going to want to have some room in the keezer for bottles and other stuff also so you can use the hump for that. Or you can do what I do. Go and buy a used Coca-Cola keg or two (they don't make these new) and one or two post conversion kits to ball. They are wider/fatter but also shorter. The fatter is not really good for stacking a bunch of them in a keezer (it definitely won't work if you use all Coke kegs), but putting one on the hump and the rest of the Pepsi style works fine. The Coke kegs tend to be cheaper anyway, and you normally want to replace poppets on the old kegs anyway so converting them to ball at that time is not much more expensive. Though there is nothing wrong with leaving them pin lock and having one faucet set up that way too.

My collar is actually a little shorter because I didn't want to have to glue it down, I designed mine with a lip and it sits outside of it with a compression fit when I screwed it together.

Even here during monsoon I get a lot of moisture in the unit. I went through a lot of damp rid in Iowa. What I do now instead is monthly turn it off for a couple of hours to melt the ice and frost off the very bottom (it happens even though the beer is at 38F) and then I shop vac it out, spray it with 1% bleach, rinse out and shop vac out again. I do it less than once a month in dry times though. In Iowa there was no such time.
 
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Rattus Suffocatus

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Like this... Good source too.. They have my favorite style kegs of all times in used.. I will see if I can can post them too.. But this is a "Coke" "Pin Lock" keg...



The advantage to converting these to ball lock is (and I forgot this before in the last post) is that then they stay low profile. The pin lock connectors are long and they take away a lot of the advantage of the pin lock kegs being shorter. About half of my kegs are these type, all have been converted.

If you decide to order some, here are my favorite used kegs. Only made for Canada and the Dakotas, the rubber ones got destroyed too quickly in the cold weather...(Pepsi type like you have already)

 
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jseyfert3

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So I mentioned NB refunded me $110 off my $320 kegging kit I bought (the price of a dual output CO2PO regulator), after the second regulator had the same issues the first one did. I think it's just a cheap design, not a manufacturing flaw, as all 4 regulators (both regs on both sets of dual regs) would not flow until the pressure dropped ~5 psi from the setpoint. This included the one I took apart. Regulator is connected to an empty keg to simulate real life operation by giving it volume to refill.

Compare that to the used Airgas regulator I bought off of eBay. It has a sticky low pressure gauge, which is why I'm tapping the gauge, but the regulator is pretty solid. I do note that it tends to recover to about 1/2 psi higher than the initial setpoint, but after that first flow it stays there. In other words, if I set it to 7 on an empty keg it seems to fill to 7, then after I flow some gas might go to 7.5 psi, but subsequent flows recover to 7.5 psi.

And more importantly, it starts flowing gas almost immediately upon a pressure drop. I should have gone with a used industrial regulator from the start and saved myself a lot of hassle (or new, but industrial grade regulators like this run about $300 new).

ADDENDUM: Thought I posted this yesterday, guess I didn't. Now I'm not so sure about the used Airgas regulator. I left it connected to my cider keg overnight. Woke up at 2 am with a loud hissing. The regulator decided to stick open and the keg pressure relief was venting. So perhaps the regulator was not the deal I thought it was.

You are going to want to have some room in the keezer for bottles and other stuff also so you can use the hump for that. Or you can do what I do. Go and buy a used Coca-Cola keg or two (they don't make these new) and one or two post conversion kits to ball. They are wider/fatter but also shorter.
Yeah. So I only needed a 2x4 if I didn't need kegs on the hump. With a 2x6 it was just a tad short to put an unconnected keg. 2x8 fits an unconnected keg, and a 2x10 would have fit a connected keg. But it's a tradeoff with height (so accessibility and lifting full kegs) vs usefulness.

I decided I did not need more than 5 connected kegs, and probably wanted room for bottles and such, like you mentioned. But I did decide to use a 2x8 so I could fit an unconnected keg. If one of the kegs on tap is getting low, and I want to replace it as soon as it is gone, I can force carb a room temp keg of the same type (assuming I have stuff in the pipeline) by rolling or shaking it for a while, then disconnect and put on the hump to cool down and be ready to go by the time the keg on tap kicks it.

As I mentioned the 2x8 also leaves room for a carboy to cold crash on the hump, if desired.
 

PoolBrews

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Oct 16, 2019
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So I mentioned NB refunded me $110 off my $320 kegging kit I bought (the price of a dual output CO2PO regulator), after the second regulator had the same issues the first one did.

When I switched from bottling to kegging (bottled for the first 18 years, then started kegging when I retired 2 1/2 years ago), I bought the 3 keg system with the dual regulator from Northern Brewer. The regulator has worked perfectly well since I got it - no issues at any pressure. It is the same CO2PO as yours - I wonder if they just got a bad batch?
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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Well, you can take apart the Airgas regulator just like any other. You should be getting good at it by now! Do you still have your CO2 bottle inside of the keezer? The cold doesn't exactly help with things sticking. It's completely possible that your regulators are freezing up with the humidity and rain you have been having there if it is in the keezer...

...At least the cider should be well carbonated now...

And if you decide that you need a "hump" keg.. I just told you how to do it! :) My freezer must have a taller hump, but it's a smaller freezer as well. I would have had to use two boards or go with plywood or something to make it tall enough for a standard 5 gallon ball lock to fit. Honestly I am only running one keg at a time now, and the one I am running is a Coke so I can put it on the hump.. I do need to brew again soon... tell my wife it's okay, will ya?
 

jseyfert3

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No, the CO2 bottle is outside the kreezer. Well, there isn't a kreezer at this point cause I need to cut and fit some foam and do some painting!
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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So I finally am not at work so I could watch your videos. The Airgas regulator is designed to regulate higher pressures than CO2.. That probably why it crept up. It would probably make a fantastic beer gas or soda regulator though. The NB regulators might be okay. If you drain it down a few PSI, will it be back to regulated pressure in 15 minutes? If so it might not be that critical. For most beers you want 7-10 psi, ciders about 20, sodas 30-40.
 

jseyfert3

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The Airgas regulator is designed to regulate higher pressures than CO2.. That probably why it crept up. It would probably make a fantastic beer gas or soda regulator though.
What do you mean higher pressures? On the low side it only went to ~20 psi. The high side is rated for 3000 psi, which is typical for regulators. Unlike the NB regulators, it's a two stage regulator, so the outlet should be stable with varying inlet pressures (obviously CO2 doesn't change pressures till the tank is nearly empty but still).

To be clear, the pressure did not creep up. The regulator broke. I had left it at 18 psi (near max pressure) on a room temp keg to try and have it carbonated as much as possible so when my kreezer was ready it was good to go. When I heard the hissing from the keg pressure relief valve at 2 am and shut off the CO2 tank the low pressure gauge was pegged at some pressure over 30 psi.

I vented the keg down to about 15 psi, ran the Airgas regulator out to minimum pressure (so it shouldn't flow at all), opened the CO2 tank and the low oressure gauge pegged at over 30 instantly and the keg started venting. So the airgas regulator is not regulating anymore and flowing max flow. I suspect either the second stage diafram broke or the first stage regulator stuck open

The NB regulators might be okay. If you drain it down a few PSI, will it be back to regulated pressure in 15 minutes? If so it might not be that critical. For most beers you want 7-10 psi, ciders about 20, sodas 30-40.
Yes it may work, but I use bottle refulators at work on a regular basis and how that behaves is not how the NB regulators behave. Of course at work it's regulators like the airgas one, purchased new around $250-$300 so they are in another league.

No, letting the NB regulators sit for 15 minutes will not let the pressure recover. I tried letting it sit at least 10 minutes just in case. They do not flow until the pressure drops about 5 psi below the setpoint. Is that how your Taprite and cheap regulator work? Or do they start flowing gas as soon as the pressure drops below the setpoint, as I'm familiar with regulators working?
 

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jseyfert3

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Insulating the collar helps with energy usage and condensation. I Styrofoamed the inside of mine. Highly recommend it.
IMG_20200611_071451182.jpg
That's what I did yesterday. I have some caulk on the wood in the corners to smooth out the surface for a good seal with the lid, and I started applying caulk to the top edge of the foam as a sealer of sorts. This is paintable caulk, I intend to spray paint this so it looks at least a little better, as well as re-paint the inside as rust had started in a number of places, and spray paint eats foam. This style of foam has a plastic sheet bonded to the faces, so the spray paint only eats the edges, so I'm using the caulk to seal the edges before I paint.

I'm hoping to paint this weekend. I'll let it dry good before going back into use so I probably won't start using it until late next week, but I should be able to start mounting faucets this weekend.
 

jseyfert3

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I was tempted to just buy an industrial grade regulator from Airgas new, but I balked at that as the cheapest single stage CO2 regulator they sold was $125, and went up from there. So I ordered two Kegco Premium Commercial Grade regulators. I gravitated towards them as they are dual stage regulators, which in general are better than single stage. They were the only dual stage regulators I saw in the range of "cheap" CO2 regulators. I could be wrong, but searching around Kegco regulators seem to be well regarded, if not as commonly used as Taprite. I also liked that Kegco sells a complete line of replacement parts so I could buy new diagrams in the future if I wanted to bother with a rebuild.

My plan is to test both Kegco regulators, and if they function well then I'll take off the high pressure gauge on one, the CGA nipple on the other, and join with a piece of high pressure rated NPT pipe. This is how dual regulators are made. It's a bit odd but Kegco does not sell the commercial grade regulators in the dual setup, even though they sell other series of regulators in that setup. They do offer the commercial grade regulator in an "add-on" setup, where you can buy a regulator with a CGA fitting instead of a HP gauge. This is an interesting setup, and allows screwing any other regulator with a CGA 320 fitting onto the first regulator. But that regulator was out of stock.

Anyway, I could probably return the Airgas one since it broke within the first 12 hours of usage, but I think I'll open it up just to get more familiar with how regulators work. Plus I'm more curious as to how it failed. It's entirely possible I could fix it if I could locate parts for it.

I won't throw away the NB regs, even if they don't flow the best they'd still work fine for dispensing beer in a keg on the go, like on a camping trip or a party. I just don't want something with pressure swings like that on my kreezer.
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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The Kegco's are "Restaurant quality" rigs.. and as such are more expensive. I can tell you are going to be picky about it. Ultimately the average PSI is what matters and a slow recovery isn't a problem unless you have issues pouring. If it stays at the lower pressure and doesn't eventually recover that could be a problem. Ones that creep up definitely are, that is what was wrong with my Taprite right out of the box, because a brass shaving got stuck under the diaphragm. It doesn't take much...
 

jseyfert3

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Ultimately the average PSI is what matters and a slow recovery isn't a problem unless you have issues pouring. If it stays at the lower pressure and doesn't eventually recover that could be a problem.
That's the problem, it doesn't recover until the pressure is 5 psi below the setpoint. I agree, slow recovery isn't an issue, but no recovery until 5 psi below the setpoint is. If set at 12 psi, and that gives good carbonation, and you draw a few beers and it drops to 8 psi and you leave it for a week before you have more beer (hah!) then the beer is now going to be under carbonated, right?

The Kegco's are "Restaurant quality" rigs.. and as such are more expensive. I can tell you are going to be picky about it.
Says the guy who talks about needing 0.01 accuracy on your pH measurements... :p

Funny enough the Kegco "top end" regulators were still only $65 each, which isn't much more than Taprite. I'll be quite happy so long as they don't have the same none-recovery until the pressure drops by 5 psi like I experienced with the CO2PO regs.
 

jseyfert3

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Oh, I forgot to mention. The "Cider for Beginner's" sticky on HBT mentioned S-04 yeast as not only usually not fermenting completely bone dry, but leaving more apple flavor.

My first two batches definitely tasted more like a wine than appley. These used montrachet yeast, and during fermentation the airlocks smelled strongly of apples. These next two batches I have going I'm using S-04 yeast, and they smell basically like nothing in the airlock. That seems to back up the claim that the resulting cider has more apple flavor left, if it's not getting vaporized and sent up the airlock then it's staying in the batch.

In any cause it will be interesting to see the difference between the yeasts. I think I'll pick up a few more airlocks and I can make 1/2 or 1 gallon batches in the jugs it comes in to try various yeast/additives to find combinations that make good ciders which I can then make in 5 gallon batches.
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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I despise the flavor of S-04 in anything. I won't use it. (If I want "English Style" I use Nottingham instead but even then I am not wild about it.) A lot of people like it. I use D47 for my ciders. Though I did one with Belle Saison once and it was quite interesting and good... but obviously not traditional cider flavored.

1118 is good too... believe it or not probably US-05 would be a good choice for a cider. I've not tried it, but it is very neutral in a beer. I also like K-97 a lot (it's not a common dry yeast) and I will often mix it with US-05 in a beer ferment and I think the combination is excellent. Especially since I moved to Arizona and the nearest LHBS is 20+ miles away I usually use dry.

There are actual cider yeasts as well, from various vendors, Mangrove Jacks from down under has M02 Cider yeast as well. I do want to try a "Kviek" especially now that I am in Arizona.. it's supposed to be much more heat tolerant and fairly neutral.
 

jseyfert3

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Hmm. Yeah I'm gonna need to get some half gallon or gallon jugs, a handful of different yeasts and airlocks from the LHBS, and run an experiment to see what we like best in a yeast.

I can see how homebrewing can become such an obsession...
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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You probably won't only like one "best". I bet you will want to rotate through 2-3. IF you like Saisons, try the Belle dry Saison (there is a competing one from Fermentis that is horrible, IMHO) in a cider... it tastes like a Saison beer with apple instead of beer flavor.... I need to do that again....

D47 is my go to for mead and cider. I like it because it make a dry wine but not too dry... It seems to leave quite a bit of apple flavor in.

Again.. I have been fascinated by the "Kveik" yeast because you can ferment hot... you should look into that. You are guilty of having me just order some yeast. :)
 

jseyfert3

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I don't think I've ever had a Saison... I'll have to get one to try.

I picked up 6 half gallons of the juice I've used on other batches, plus a half gallon of a "sweet and tart", not from concentrate juice.

When I can I'll go to the LHBS and pick up a few different types of yeast and a handful of airlocks and start my yeast trials...
 

jseyfert3

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I did manage to paint the main part of the freezer this weekend. 7 ½ cans of spray paint later and we have this:
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