Review: Semi-Pro Bottler Filler

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Bottling is the worse part of brewing for me, sanitising and draining are fine. The annoying part is opening and closing the syphon to fill the bottles and having them overflow. It means I’m bending over and covering the floor and myself in beer for 20-30min.

I’ve gone through a good few bottling sticks, but they always seem to malfunction (either too slow to fill or huge leaking out of the bottle). If I had a premium one made, I’d consider it, but these cheap plastic jobs don’t seem to like me, as I still have to hold it in place constantly.

I’ve thought about a beer gun before, but with the CO2 cyclinder, etc, it seems like too much work. I currently use a large autosyphon, with a small tap at the end. It is very finicky to open and close, due to it’s tiny valve, but it’s better than the bottling sticks. It actually disturbs the beer much less than the bottling sticks. The sticks can flow at high speed when working properly and seem to cause alot of bubbles at the start of a bottle fill, this is reduced with the tap.

So I came across this Semi Professional Automatic 3 Head Bottle Filler for €50.

Initially I was struggling to see how it could work? It looks potentially great. I can’t see any video etc of it working. If this fills the bottles to the correct level and saves me bending over the whole time I’d be up for it.

I didn’t know how it knew when a bottle is full? I guess all the bottles would have to be the same size too.

I did expect the bottle to hold in place but they just don’t, (with 1 weird shaped bottle, I did get it to hang actually) and there is no way to adjust them. I would say it does fill them faster but I think you would want to be filling more than one 20L batch for it to be of net benefit.

My socks now act as a mop on brew days.

Pros: Once set up goes through bottles pretty quick

Cons: Slightly expensive, takes up storage space, leaks easily, still drips, can’t use 3 arms at the same time

I have subsquently sold it to another NHC member, who is going to adapt/modify it to see if it can be improved. I’ve gone back to a bottle bucket and wand.

 

Follow the thread on the forum.

 
Author: DCBrewing

BrewCon 2015

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Education in brewing is core to the National Homebrew Club.

This year we will be raising the bar higher again and holding our inaugural brewing conference BrewCon 2015 on Saturday, May 9th 2015.

“The conference will have international & Irish speakers covering the four pillars of brewing ingredients, recipe formulation, and how to take your brewing to the next level.”

Who’s talking:

  • Chris White – Whitelabs Yeast
  • Chris O’Flynn – Malting Company of Ireland
  • Ben Adams – Charles Faram Hops
  • Eddie Bourke – Pro Brewer
  • Rory Shields – ex Pro Brewer
  • and many more

Meet the Brewers:

A casual open-forum style talk with some of the master & head brewers of some of the more exciting creations around today.

  • Brewdog
  • Metalman
  • Rascals
  • Wicklow Wolf
  • Blacks of Kinsale
  • Boundary Brewing
  • Kinnegar Brewing
  • & more …

Where: Smock Alley Theatre, 6/7 Exchange Street Lower, Temple Bar, Dublin 8

There will be a Discounted Member Ticket pre-sale. This will go live via email on Monday 6th April, the numbers are limited to 150 attendees, they are allocated on a first come, first serve basis. The ticket covers attendence for the day and will include lunch & a drinks reception at the close of the event.

 Follow the thread on the forum

 

Review: The BeerBug

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The ‘BeerBug‘ is a device that attaches to the top of your fermentor that tracks the fermentation progress and temperature of your brew.

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Right … next, how much does it cost.

Well its 250 dollars for the main unit and 40 dollars for the temperature probe (which you really need), oh – and there is the shipping of about 25 dollars, So we are looking at 320 dollars and the duty you will probably get stung for.

Before you make up your mind … let’s skip the price for the moment, as I want to get to the product and tell you about that.

Fitting and installation

The BeerBug does easily fit as a replacement for the airlock, it has main computer unit and a torpedo that sinks into your wort.

This component is easily fitted onto most peoples current fermentors, however it does replace the airlock so you wont have the comforting sound bubbling as you sit down to watch your favourite episode of third rock from the sun. An Airlock can be fitted to the BeerBug but its not a snug as a normal airlock.

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The temperature probe, unfortunately, this required a hole in the top of my fermentor as some of the probe must be in the beer, that said I found the feedback from this component one of the best features – so this is a price worth paying.

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You sterilse the torpedo, then place it into the wort just after you have pitched your yeast, then press the button on the device and go to your computer.
You then calibrate the device ‘online’ to tell it the current SG, it does guess – but its more accurate to calibrate or Tare.
You can add ingredients and all sorts of details on here if you choose.
and hey presto – for the next week or two –
You can monitor the fermentation and temperature of your batch.

When it works – its ultra cool
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However – there are some downsides..

For a man who likes to brew HefeWeiss – it’s a disaster, for this style

I have dealt with a couple of blow outs and put simply, it’s like giving a two year old a spoon in a bowl of yogurt and leaving the room for 5 minutes – it’s carnage.

This pretty much holds true for Russian Imperial Stouts, as well as Dunkels, Weissbock .. look – any batch that risks a blow out – just don’t put this device near it!

That said – for most batches Pale Ales, IPAs, Irish Reds, Stouts – it’s perfect.

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The battery is good for 2 or 3 days, however – I found myself just powering it up the whole time, this wasn’t as much hassle as you think – I generally have a heat pad on, so it’s just an additional android phone charger.

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Once you are happy the fermentation is complete, simply click ‘finish brew’ and rack the beer, however, you have to be ultra careful removing the torpedo, people have managed to break the connecter by forgetting it’s there and yanking the top part away.

Now another thing I forgot to mention. The website – good grief – I have ‘assisted’ the development team and it has been a car crash at times, getting dodgy data-points and occasional wacky readings, and then sometimes – not being able to get onto the website at all.

So the web front-end is a far from finished product, but it has improved and stabilised recently.

All in all, I liked this product but I can’t deny, its hard to get over its price and the fact you aren’t going to use it on every batch.
That said the feedback and information returned is extremely valuable, and to be fair that’s one of the most important things
I was surprised to see how quick the SG dropped and it gave me confidence in the brew and its fermentation progress – which is always a good thing.
Oh – I forgot to mention the App, it runs on smartphones, android and iphone (not ipad) , it’s mega cool, especially when your buddy asks you in the pub, hows your IPA doing !!

In summary, if this unit cost 100 dollars – I’d give it five stars.
Still, I’m glad I bought it and I am very happy with the brews where it has worked correctly.

Price – One Star
Setup – Two stars
Brewing usefulness – Five stars
Hipster Rating – Four stars

Overall – three stars

As the Bank Radio Ads would say – I have received no gratuity or product for this review!

 

Discuss the BeerBug on the forum

 

Author: Partridge9