Monday, 7 March 2011

The big ebay purchase

The big ebay purchase
I've enjoyed my first venture into brewing my own beer so much that I've taken the next step, well more like a massive leap, and bought the equipment I need to do my first all grain brew!

I was lucky enough to find an auction on ebay for a decent price that included all of the following:
  • Boiler with hop-stopper
  • Copper pipe chiller
  • Mash tun
  • 2 King kegs
  • 2 Brew bins
  • 80 x 8gm CO2 bulbs
  • S30 Hambleton Bard cylinder
  • Thermometer
  • Hydrometer
  • Brew belt
Some of the kit, the kegs especially, needed a thorough cleaning.  This was a particularly unpleasant task but for a mornings work of soaking, rubbing and sanitising I was pleased with the outcome.  As part of this cleaning I threw away the latstock beer float mechanism from within the kegs as they were beyond recovery and ordered new from ebay for a few pounds, no problem there.

I was quite disappointed to be met with such a cleaning task but now that it is all done I still feel it was fantastic value for money (and that's after accidentally smashing an immersion heater that was also included).
Mash tun manifold
One concern that I have is that the mash tun, a converted coolbox (not unusual), is using a hop-stopper as the manifold for lautering.  I've not heard of others doing this as most people usually go in for either a slotted pipe arrangement or a steel mesh tube from a shower hose.  I'm going to ask around on some forums before doing my first mash.
The 2 kegs that were included both have an s30 fitting that takes the Hambleton Bard cylinder.  I wasn't too sure how to use this so did some research and asked some questions.  With the 8 gram CO2 bulbs it is simply a case of screwing the bulb onto the keg.  This releases the gas into the keg and the job is done.  As this can momentarily freeze the valves it is recommended to leave the bulb in place for a minute or so before removing it.

This is not how to use the Hambleton Bard (HB) cylinder.  In this case it should be screwed on until it starts to release gas and then, after just 1 second, unscrewed.  Again there is a risk of valves freezing, the recommendation I have read says to dip the tip of the HB cylinder under water to make sure it is not leaking gas.

Fortunately I do have a use for the 80 x 8 gram bulbs included as my existing keg takes these.  I am also considering getting an adapter that screws on top of the s30 fitting to convert it for the 8gm bulbs.  This could be used as a back-up when the HB runs out of gas and takes a few days to replace.

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