The little things I use or have built for the Brewery

In this post, I am opening my toolbox and will list some of the items that I have come across or built that have been incorporated into my Brew Days.  These will be smaller items that won’t take a lot of space or need their own post.

If there is a specific item that you would like to see detailed, let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to detail it on this page.  This will be a living post and can be updated.  Any other builds that you might want to see that may require a post of its own can be accommodated, too.  Again, just let me know in the comments.

Please choose from this Table of Contents to jump to the section of interest:

Quick and Easy Blowoff Tube for Speidel Fermenters
Open Transfer from Fermenter to Keg
Speidel Hacks using Weldless Components
The Basis of these Hacks
Closed Transfer Adapters from Fermenter to Kegs
Closed Transfer from Kettle to Fermenter
Hose Barb
1/2″ Hose Blow Off
Bulkhead
Garden Hose to Quick Disconnect for Cleaning
Cleaning Brushes for 12v Pumps
Adding a Spigot to a Plastic Fermenter
Drying Stand for Erlenmeyer Flasks
Storage for Misc Parts

Quick and Easy Blow Off Tube Adapter:

For a Blow Off Tube on my Speidel Fermenters, I was looking for a solution that was cheap and easy.  Turns out, the easiest was to use the plastic valve (spigot) that comes with the fermenter.  If you have more than 1 fermenter, use the one from your second so that you keep the valve at the bottom to empty the contents.

Then, slide a length of 5/16″ tubing onto the spout and place it into your “airlock”.  I use a 64 oz Growler and as such  30″ of tubing was all I needed.

Make sure the valve is open (turned to ON), sanitize and screw it onto the lid of your fermenter.

Open Transfer from Fermenter to Keg

To transfer my beer from my fermenter to my kegs, I use a very simple method.  Similar to the one used above, I have a length of 5/16″ tubing with a Hose Barb Quick Disconnect attached.  The Quick Disconnect does nothing but weight down the tubing so that it stays at the bottom of the keg during transfer.

I made the hose long enough to sit on the bottom of the keg.

Other Speidel Fermenter Adapters

When trying to decide how I wanted to create a blowoff tube, I got this pack of Stainless Steel Washers:

Flat Washers Stainless Steel 18-8

With the nominal Size of 3/4, since the OD is 1-3/4″

 

And, if you’ll remember, I got a good deal on some short nipples, which helped to enable these small builds.

Merit Brass 4008-001-10 Stainless Steel 304/304L Pipe Fitting, Close Nipple, Schedule 40 Welded, 1/2″ NPT Male, 1-1/8″ Length (Pack of 10)

The other, very important piece that makes all these hack work is the Speidel Spigot.

Push the bottom part of the spigot up into the opaque (white) part and then pull out using the tab at the top.  The orange ring is the part that will be used in these hacks.

 

Closed Transfer Adapters from Fermenter to Kegs

We’re probably all familiar with this setup for keg to keg closed transfers:

CO2 is pushed from the canister to the first keg and the beer is then forced from keg to keg.  The important thing to note about this system, though (and a reason that this doesn’t work for some of you) is the Ball Lock adapter on the Gas side of the second keg.  This allows for the air that is in the keg to escape as the keg filled with beer.  This is called displacement and plays a major role in any type of closed volume transfer system.

As seen in the picture below, the CO2 goes in through the Gas in port on the keg, which then forces the beer through the Beer Out and into the Beer Out of the second keg, thus filling from the bottom and not foaming.

As the second keg fills, there is less and less room for the air that is already in the keg.  When that air reaches the level of volume necessary to create pressure, the beer will stop transferring.  If you place a disconnect onto the post with nothing attached, it will hole the post open, allowing for the air to escape and a clean, easy transfer.  Do this PRIOR to beginning the transfer.

This is so in ALL closed liquid transfer situations.  So in the case of Fermenter to Keg closed transfer, be sure to also place an open disconnect onto the Gas side of your keg.

To build the closed transfer adapters, you need:

2x  orange Speidel rings
2x  washers
2x  O-RING 1/2 NPT – SILICONE
2x  1/2″ NPS LOCKNUT STAINLESS
2x  Plug Adapter 1/4″ MPT x 19/32″
2x  BUSHING – 1/2″ NPT X 1/4
1x  set of Keg Ball Lock Posts

Then you assemble them:

Gas Post Adapter would go on the lid

And the liquid Post Adapter would go on the bottom of the fermenter

As a bonus, since everything here is threaded the same, you could use the bulkhead adapter from below to add a 1/2″ Ball Valve to the bottom of the fermenter.  Then this assembly (minus the washer, o-ring, and nut) would thread into the end of the valve.  With the valve closed, you could swap this out for a Quick Disconnect, or anything else you may want.

Closed Transfer from Kettle to Fermenter

Keeping in mind the displacement from the hack above, you can also create a closed system to transfer from Boil Kettle to the fermenter.  I did this with a washer, silicone o-ring, male-threaded disconnect and female-threaded disconnect. This will also allow for an internal hose from this adapter to the bottom of the fermenter.

It’s simple, really.  Slide the washer onto the male-threaded disconnect, slip on the o-ring and screw on the female-threaded disconnect.

Place orange ring over the washer and you’re almost ready.

I say almost, because this will not allow for transfer of wort.  Remember the whole displacement discussion?  We need to allow for the release of the air (CO2 if you flush the fermenter).  Looking from the top down, we can see free space on the washer:

However, this is the male-threaded disconnect side.  We want the female-threaded side, since it is wider.  Once you flip the assembly in the orange ring, mark 4 locations to drill holes (I chose 12, 3, 6, and 9 0’clock positions).

I used a 5/32″ drill bit and a stone on my Dremel to get rid of the burrs.

Hose Barb

1/2″ Hose Blow Off

This will also be a quick, easy hack.  If you already have spare parts (and who doesn’t), you may have everything needed for this 1/2″ blowoff tube hack. All you need is a short closed nipple, 1/2″nut, an o-ring (optional), and a 1/2″ to street elbow.

Nut, o-ring, washer, elbow, in that order:

Isn’t she lovely?

Add the orange ring and some tubing

Bulkhead

The purpose of adding a bulkhead to the bottom port on the Speidel Fermenters is to be able to attach anything our little hearts may desire.  It’s as simple as you’d like it to be, while adding a lot of functionality.  For example, with two short closed nipples, a half coupler, silicone high temp washer, and a 1/2″ street elbow:

You can create a dip tube that can attach to anything that has 1/2″ NPT threads

With the orange ring attaching this to the front of the fermenter,

You can attach a ball valve, a hose Quick Disconnect, you can even take the hack from the Closed Transfer to Kegs and screw the 1/2″ to 1/4″ bushing with the ball lock post on it into the 1/2″ ball valve to maximize the potential of the outlet.

Of course, you can adjust the depth the bulkhead reaches inside and place the dip tube at the exact spot you want by using longer closed nipples, longer coupling, or a compression fitting dip tube.  The possibilities are limited by your imagination (or bank account).

Garden Hose to Quick Disconnect for Cleaning:

This one comes in handy on EVERY Brew Day.  All you need is a Garden Hose to 1/2″ barb, a short piece of scrap tubing and a female Quick Disconnect.

The Disconnect I use is from bargainfittings.com
1/2″ STAINLESS QUICK DISCONNECT – FEMALE X 1/2″ HOSE BARB

With this hose, I can connect my garden hose to the wort port of my counter flow chiller, to the ball valves on my kettle, mash tun, HLT, etc.  Anything with a Quick Disconnect.  Quick and easy cleaning solution.

Cleaning Brushes for 12v Pumps

Pump cleanliness is paramount to good beer.  anything that is in your pump from the last Brew Day that hasn’t been cleaned out is still there and probably has molded.  As soon as you send wort through your pump, you have an infected beer.  I have found an easy way to combat this.  First off, a regular cleaning schedule is needed.  I’ve started cleaning after every Brew Day.

First, disassemble the pumps and soak them in OxiClean.

For the cleaning, I use the straws that are sold for the stainless steel straws that are so popular now.  The reason I like these so well is that the tips of the brushes are coated so that they will not scratch.  These are the type:

Hiware Drinking Straw Brush Set

Here they are next to the disassembled pumps

As you can see, I’ve bent one to fit inside the impeller well of the pump housing.

The straight brush is the perfect size for cleaning the inlet and outlet on the pump head.

Though the diameter of the inlet is just larger than that of the brush, a few strokes back and forth makes cleaning a breeze.

Adding a Spigot to a Plastic Fermenter

I have a few Big Mouth Bubblers that were purchased before they were offered with a spigot.  They have the old style screw on lids, too.  I love them and use them whenever I want to split a batch for different fermentation techniques or additions.  The one drawback they have is the need to use a siphon to transfer from the fermenter to kegs (or any other vessel).  Since my next brew is going to be a 15 gallon collab between three different homebreweries, I thought now was a good idea to add the spigots.  We will be adding 10 gallons of freshly picked (caramelized and pureed) figs from my backyard to each fermenter holding 5 gallons of wort.  These Big Mouth Bubblers have a capacity of 6.5 gallons and these will be the secondary fermentation vessels.

For the spigots, I used the following from Amazon:

MRbrew Bottling Spigot for Bucket Homebrew Wine Making Beer

Since they ship two per pack, I got two packs, so I could put one in each of my three fermenters.

Each spigot kit is in its own separate bag-in-the-bag

With each kit, you get a spigot, two silicone washers, and a nut

The nut has a bit of extra plastic from the injection mod that will be trimmed of prior to assembly.  Always be sure to inspect your parts!  Here is the order of operations:

Nut has been trimmed

Since the Big Mouth Bubblers are used primarily for secondary, I like to keep them in their shipping boxes to ensure no light gets to them.  To enable this, I have cut the flaps to allow for an airlock:

I measured for the center between the lowest volume marker and the bottom of the flat surface

Then I drilled a pilot hole with a 1/4″ bit

From there, I used my step bit to get to a 1″ hole

Once that was done, I cleaned up the hole and test fit the spigot

Leak test and final fit.  Looks good!

The good news is that even with the new spigot (and really, the reason I chose this specific part) the fermenter still fits inside the box!

Drying Stand for Erlenmeyer Flasks

Borne out of necessity, I built this drying stand to hold my Erlenmeyer Flasks inverted to allow for better drying.  I had some scrap wood from a project and a 1-1/4″ dowel that was given to me (actually I got 5 of the dowels).  I have two 5000ml and two 2000ml flasks.  Since I do a lot of step starters and also overbuild yeast, I often have the two 5000ml and a 2000ml in use at once, so having a drying rack for all four flasks makes a lot of sense.

I cut the wood to 20″, and the width was already 11-3/4″.  Then I placed the flasks on the slab of wood to get the spacing down.  I finally came up with a spacing that I liked and marked the spots.  The dowels are 12″ apart on the long side and 9″ apart on the short.

Next, I came up with the dowel length.  I wanted the dowels to react to the the start of the curve at the bottom of the flask to achieve maximum support.

For the 2000ml flasks, I cut the dowels at 9-5/16″

And for the 5000ml flasks, the dowels were cut at 14-5/8″

So there you have it.  My drying stand for the Erlenmeyer Flasks.

Storage for Misc Parts

So now that we have that out of the way, I get asked a lot about how I store all these extra parts and fittings that I keep around.  I prefer the little expandable tackle boxes.  They really do the best job of organizing for me.

This is the one I use for general brewhouse parts and fittings:

It opens up to hold all of my goodies…  So many empty spaces, either I’ve been building stuff or I need to order more spares!

And I have a separate one for my keg and kegerator supplies.  I’ve had this thing since I was a kid, so it’s great to be able to re-purpose it.

I have enough to rebuild at least one keg, and then some!

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