Monday 31 May 2021

Juice Bomb Hazy IPA - Recipe & Review


Thanks to Cheeky Peak Brewery for the recipe and ingredients

Date: 30/5/2021

Batch Number: 14

Batch Volume: 25L

2-Row Pale Malt - 4kg
Flaked Oats - 0.8kg
Malted Wheat - 0.8kg

Mash: 66c (60 mins)

Original Gravity (OG): 1.053
Final Gravity (FG): 1.012

Hop Schedule
10g Columbus/Tomahawk - 60 mins - 16.3% (16.3 IBU)
15g Amarillo - 7.8% - 80C Hopstand 20 mins (1.6 IBU)
15g Galaxy - 12.3% - 80C Hopstand 20 mins (2.5 IBU)
15g Mosaic - 11.3% - 80C Hopstand 20 mins (2.3 IBU)
50g Amarillo - 7.8% - Dry Hop High Krausen
50g Galaxy - 12.3% - Dry Hop High Krausen
50g Mosaic - 11.3% - Dry Hop High Krausen
50g Amarillo - 7.8% - Final Gravity
50g Galaxy - 12.3% - Final Gravity
50g Mosaic - 11.3% - Final Gravity

Yeast: Lallemand New England East Coast Ale

Mash Water: 23.55L
Sparge Water: 9.81L


This beer is amazing - and is definitely my best all-grain brew to date. Thankfully my brews (in my opinion at least) have been trending upwards and getting better with each batch. I'm pretty certain the biggest difference with this batch was the adjustments I made to my water chemistry - which really helped to bring out the hop flavours.

The oats and wheat specialty malts gives the beer and nice, bright and light colour, with a slight amount of haze (which could also be from all the hops, or chill haze, or both) - it may clear over time, but for now it's definitely present. Taste wise it has a nice subtle and velvety mouth feel.

The Juice Bomb Hazy IPA in the glass

The combination of hops is also excellent and makes for a nice, fruity and juicy taste. Mosaic, amarillo and galaxy hops are popular hop varieties that work well together and complement each other nicely.

Although I have an unwritten rule about never brewing the same beer twice, this one is definitely making me reconsider - I don't think it will last long in the keg!

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Wednesday 26 May 2021

What are the Benefits of Pressure Fermenting

Pressure fermenting is a relatively new concept in the world of homebrewing. As the name suggests, it's a straight forward process that involves having your fermentation occur in a sealed vessel that is capable of holding pressure. These can be made of stainless steel, or in some cases, even specialised plastic.

There's a lot of hype around fermenting under pressure at the moment - and while the concept can seem quite daunting, it's actually very simple. The process of fermentation involves yeast consuming sugars in the wort - and the byproduct of this consumption is alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2). In a regular fermenter, the CO2 would escape via the airlock, but in a pressure fermenter this CO2 is trapped inside the vessel which builds pressure. The pressure is regulated by a spunding valve which will control the release of CO2 from the vessel to maintain a set pressure inside.

One of the first questions many home brewers would ask is "what are the benefits of pressure fermenting?" so I thought I'd break them down in this blog post along with some of the disadvantages as well;


Fermentation at Higher Temperatures

Fermenting under pressure allows brewers to let the fermentation occur at higher temperatures than they normally would - especially with beer styles like lagers that typically require fermentation at lower temperatures to keep a clean taste and reduce any off flavours. A higher temperature fermentation generally means a faster fermentation so this point actually has multiple benefits - the temperature can be higher, off flavours are reduced/eliminated that would normally be associated/caused by a higher fermentation temperature, and fermentation completes faster.

Reduction of Off Flavours such as Esters and Fusels

I touched on this in the previous point about being able to ferment at higher temperatures, but it's a big benefit so feel it should have it's own dedicated point. One of the most disappointing things after the hard work and patience of a fermentation is tasting your precious brew and picking up an off flavour within it. These are often caused by a lack of temperature control, although this isn't the only cause - but fermenting under pressure inhibits these flavours from developing

Reduced Krausen Size

The pressure inside the fermenter helps reduce the size of the krausen - this in turn helps reduce the risk of a krausen overflow in particularly aggressive fermentations. Be careful with this though - as when the pressure is released in the fermenter, the krausen can grow quite rapidly!

Eliminate Oxidation

This is probably one of the biggest benefits of pressure fermenting. Prior to fermentation, oxygen is an important component of your wort as it's required by the yeast in the initial/easy stages of fermentation. However, towards the end of fermentation and after it has completed, oxygen is the number one enemy of your fermented wort that has now become beer. I expect all home brewers have tasted and likely suffered from oxidised beer at some point (although they may not even know it). By completing your fermentation in a sealed vessel, with only CO2 trapped inside, the risk of oxygen being introduced to your beer is almost 0. The risk slightly increases if you need to open the vessel for any reason, such as dry hopping, but there are ways to mitigate this by using special valves/contraptions on your pressure fermenter to purge any oxygen from them prior to introducting them. You can also fill and purge your fermenter with CO2 after opening to remove any oxygen that may have been introduced from the headspace. No oxygen exposure = better tasting beer.

Pressure and Oxygen Free Transfers

Once your pressure fermentation has completed, you are now able to transfer your beer into another vessel such as a keg or bottles using pressure and silicone beer lines. This ties in with the point above about eliminating oxidation as the beer is never exposed to the air outside the fermenter, beer lines and receiving vessel. This process has been covered in a previous blog post but essentially involves using the pressure in the fermenter to "push" the beer out through a beer line.

Faster Carbonation

When your wort is fermenting under pressure, it will naturally begin to reabsorb some of the CO2 that is available in the head space of the fermenter. This is known as carbonation and is what makes beer (or any other drink) "fizzy". By re-using the CO2 that is created by the fermentation, home brewers can reduce the amount of extra CO2 they need to add from a gas bottle for this purpose and reduce the amount of time required for the beer to be carbonated and ready to consume. Compared to when fermenting at atmospheric pressure (ie. not pressure fermenting), the beer must be force carbonated in a keg by connecting a CO2 gas source from a bottle, or by adding priming sugar to bottles once the primary fermentation has completed. 


It's only fair we list some of the drawbacks and disadvantages of pressure fermenting as well to keep things balanced.

Not all Yeasts are Suitable

For popular and clean tasting yeasts, such as US05 or most lager yeasts, pressure fermentation is ideal and works well as it suppresses off flavours such as fusels and esters. There are however some yeasts that are not suited to fermenting under pressure. Most yeast manufacturers will now specify whether their yeasts are or are not suitable for pressure fermenting.

Additional Costs & Equipment

In order to ferment under pressure, you will need a fermenter that is capable of holding this pressure as well as some other equipment like a spunding valve, gas and liquid disconnects, beer line, keg(s) and/or a bottle filler. Thankfully there are reasonably priced options such as plastic pressure fermenters like the Fermzilla to allow brewers to dip their toes into pressure fermenting without having to outlay huge sums of money. While the cost of some of the other required equipment isn't huge either, purchasing all the little things mentioned above can add up quickly.

Leaks are Annoying

Troubleshooting leaks in your pressure fermenter can be annoying and lead to frustration if they can't be figured out - this is something I've certainly experienced when starting out with pressure fermenting but thankfully there's a lot of helpful information and guides available to help with problems like these.


Bottling from a pressure fermenter can be difficult (but not impossible). Changes in temperature and pressure when transferring from one vessel to another can lead to excess foaming to occur and you also need a bottle filler beer gun or counter pressure bottle filler to do it effectively.

What are your experiences with pressure fermenting? Or is there something else you'd like to know about it? Let me know in the comments below

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Tuesday 25 May 2021

Converting Water Alkalinity - HCO3 to CaCO3

When diving into the world of water chemistry, one thing that I've come across is a couple of different units of measurement for water alkalinity.

Alkalinity refers to the acid neutralizing capabilities of the water and is commonly measured in CaCO3 or HCO3.

My local water report through Sydney water gives an alkalinity reading in mg CaCO3/L. The problem I have is that the brewing app I use (Brewfather) measures water alkalinity in HCO3.

Thankfully the process for converting between the two is very straight forward;

An example water report from Sydney Water showing water alkalinity

Converting from CaCO3 to HCO3

To convert from CaCO3 to HCO3, simply multiply the CaCO3 value by 1.22

Using the example above, you can see we have a value of 47.9 mg CaCO3/L - so to convert this to HCO3 we multiply by 1.22. 47.9 x 1.22 = 58.438

Converting from HCO3 to CaCO3

To convert from HCO3 to CaCO3, divide the HCO3 value by 1.22.

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Wednesday 19 May 2021

Balter - Eazy Hazy - Beer Review

Brewed By: Balter
Beer: Eazy Hazy
ABV: 4.0%
Malts: Pale, Wheat
Hops: Unknown
IBU: Unknown

"Why use a stick of dynamite when a party popper will do the trick? Eazy Hazy brings the colour and spark while keeping things nicely chilled. Succulent US hops deliver lime, passionfruit and hints of coconut around a creamy, rolled-wheat base to balance the zesty bitter finish. Pull the ripcord on one without strain or stress. Your well-contained taste explosion."

Balter Eazy Hazy 375ml can


The Balter XPA I consider to be one of my all time favourite beers - so I was excited to try the Eazy Hazy to see how it compares - and it doesn't disappoint. This beer is great. As the name suggests, there's a real haze to which reminded me of Stone & Wood's Pacific Ale. The bitterness is perfectly balanced with the tropical fruit punch taste that hits with each sip. For me, mango was the prevalent flavour - I wasn't detecting any of the lime and coconut that Balter themselves mention though? In any case, the hop combination used to achieve this flavour is excellent.

At 4% ABV, this beer is very sessionable but it unfortunately comes in a pack of 4 so some restraint was required not to polish them all off in one sitting. This is perhaps one of the best things about this particular beer - it's got all the flavour without all the alcohol - which Balter refer to in their opening line above - using a stick of dynamite when a party popper will do the trick.

Plenty of haze visible in the Eazy Hazy

I'm not able to tell for sure if the Eazy Hazy is a permanent fixture on the Balter beer list - but I sure hope it is. It's perhaps taken the place of their XPA at the top of my all time favourite beer list.

A shame Balter don't include as much information as other beer brewing companies regarding of what hops and malts are used to create their beers - would definitely be one worth trying to replicate in a future brew.



Tuesday 18 May 2021

How to set and adjust a spunding valve

Spunding valves are a relatively simple but crucial bit of equipment when dealing with pressure fermentation. A spunding valve allows you to set a predefined level of pressure within your pressure fermenter which the valve will maintain by venting or releasing any pressure above this predefined level.

Kegland Blowtie Spunding Valve fitted to keg

For example, if the spunding valve is set to 10psi, it will not vent any gas and allow the pressure to build to 10psi - after which it will begin venting any additional air/pressure that builds up so a steady 10psi is maintained throughout the fermentation.

The spunding valve I'll be using in this example is the KegLand integrated gauge blowtie spunding valve - if you have a different make/model that is fine - the underlying process will be the same regardless of what type of spunding valve you have.

Before we start - I've noticed on my particular spunding valve that the gauge is wildly inaccurate so I won't be using it for any reference - I'll be using the low pressure gauge on the CO2 regulator attached to my gas bottle.

Also notice on this particular spunding valve there's an arrow on the side indicating the direction gas should be flowing through the valve - make sure you have it installed the right way otherwise it won't function correctly.

Note the arrow circled in black showing the direction gas should flow through the spunding valve

  1. Pressurise a keg or smaller vessel to the set pressure you want to set your spunding valve to. A good starting point for pressure fermentations is 10psi. As previously mentioned, I use the low pressure gauge on my CO2 regular to set this pressure in the vessel.
    (You can use a PCO 1881 carbonation cap tee piece (like this) in order to be able to use a smaller soft drink bottle instead of a 19L keg to save on your gas usage).

  2. Ensure the diaphragm on the spunding valve is fully closed (so it won't vent any air/gas). On my valve, this means winding the adjustment handle clockwise as far as it will go.

  3. Attach the spunding valve to the gas post of your keg or carbonation cap tee piece. There should now be a reading on the gauge of your spunding valve showing it has pressure (hopefully around 10psi).

  4. Attach a short hose piece to the outlet of the spunding valve and submerge the end of this hose piece into a glass of water.

  5. Begin slowly unwinding/opening the diaphragm adjustment on your spunding valve until you start to see bubbles in the glass of water you have the hose piece submerged in - this indicates that gas is being released by the spunding valve. On my spunding valve, this adjustment is done by slowly turning the yellow handle anti-clockwise.

  6. Once you see the bubbles appear, you know the valve is releasing pressure at 10psi. Make tiny adjusments on the spunding valve again to close it until the bubbles stop. This way, it will begin releasing once pressure exceeds 10psi, not at 10psi.

  7. Your spunding valve is now set. Take care not to bump/move the adjustment on it when disconnecting, storing or reconnecting

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Monday 17 May 2021

Improve Mash Efficiency with the BrewZilla (How To Guide)

A big factor for many home brewers is the efficiency they're able to get from their equipment. Efficiency refers to how much sugar they're able to extract from the malts or grains in their recipe - and the more you can extract, the better (and stronger) your beer will be.

Many can become disheartened when falling short of expected gravity readings - I know I've felt like this at times, but have still made some great tasting beers with lower than expected efficiency - so if you're falling short a few gravity points don't despair. Here are a few tips and tricks I've come across and tried myself to help improve my efficiency - each one seems to have helped me get a little closer to my expected readings, and I hope they'll help you as well.

Take your time when mashing 

You can't "over-mash" or mash for too long. I've even done an overnight mash due to time constraints during the daytime - so don't feel the need to start your 60 minute timer as soon as your grains are in the BrewZilla, or get them out as soon as your timer is up. Brewing is art, and art takes time.

Stirring the mash on the Brewzilla

Wait before turning the pump on

In my first couple of brews I was always in a hurry to get the grain stirred and the pump on to begin recirculating the wort. I saw a few Facebook group posts that advised waiting 10 minutes or so after stirring in your grain before recirculating. The idea being to let the grain bed 'settle'. My process now is to stir in the grain, let it settle for 10 minutes, then turn on the pump and start my 60 minute timer.

Stir during the mash

Some have recommended stirring a couple of times during the mash - I stop the pump after 20 and 40 minutes to stir the grain bed then turn the pump back on.

Don't use the (fine mesh) bottom screen

The fine mesh bottom screen has been known to cause issues with stuck mashes and stuck sparges as it further restricts the amount of water that can flow through once it reaches the bottom of the grain bed. Apparantly KegLand don't even include the fine mesh bottom screen with BrewZilla's so I'd recommend not using it.

Make sure you use the glass lid

Leave the glass lid on as much as you can during your mash to help retain the heat. The design of the BrewZilla being essentially a tall cylinder with heating elements at the bottom means there is a discrepancy in temperature between the base where the elements are and the top of the grain bed. Keeping the glass lid on helps keep the heat captured at the top and aims to reduce this temperature difference.

Use the neoprene jacket

Similar to the point above with the glass lid - the neoprene jacket helps to insulate and maintain temperature within the Brewzilla.

Brewzilla 3.1.1 35L with Neoprene Jacket

Check your temperature 

Use a hand held kitchen thermometer to check the temperature of the wort coming out of the recirculation arm, or in the middle of the grain bed at the top. You'll find the temperature will be different to your target/current temperature set on the BrewZilla control panel - by as much as 5C. Adjust the temperature on the BrewZilla so you're closer to your target mash temperature at the top of the grain bed.

Use a thermometer to measure the temperature at the top of the grain bed

Mash Out

This is something I didn't do with my first few brews. Most recipes will call for a mash out which involves ramping the temperature up from mashing temperature to around 75-80C. This helps to loosen the grain bed which in turn extracts more sugars and improves the flow of water when sparging.

Boiler & Malt Pipe Extensions

You can also upgrade your BrewZilla with a boiler extension and increased malt pipe to allow more grain and water to be used in your BrewZilla. Check out our article providing more detail on these below;

BrewZilla - Boiler & Malt Pipe Extensions to Increase Capacity

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Friday 14 May 2021

Stockade Brew Co - Mr Fruju NEIPA - Beer Review

Brewed By: Stockade Brew Co
Beer: Mr Fruju New England IPA (NEIPA)
ABV: 6.0%
Malts: Pale, Oats, Unmalted Wheat
Hops: Mosiac, Galaxy, Citra, Ella, Amarillo
IBU: 40

Mr Fruju by Stockade Brew Co

"Meet Mr Fruju, a hazy, tropical mash that's the perfect balance of bitter and juicy"


I've read a lot about New England IPA's (NEIPA's), and am planning on eventually brewing one myself. I haven't taken the plunge yet though as I'm anticipating it will be expensive to make because of the enormous amount of  hops that are required to get the desired flavour - so I want to make sure I've got all my processes well defined and established before giving it a go.

This is my first NEIPA so I was very excited to give it a try and share my thoughts on it.

For those that aren't familiar - the most common term thrown around when talking about NEIPA's is "juicy". They're often hazy in apperance, once again, because of all the hop acids and oils that are present to give the desired flavour.

Enter Mr Fruju - a full strength NEIPA made by Stockade Brew Co. It certainly meets the expected criteria for such a beer. Lots of alcohol. Check. Hazy appearance. Check. Little to no residual bitterness. Check. Tastes like drinking fruit juice? Check. Name most likely abbreviated from "Fruit Juice"? Check.

The information on the official website for this beer claims it has 40 IBU's - which would lead to a relatively bitter initial taste in most styles of beers - but not in this case. I must admit I struggled to taste any bitterness when enjoying this beer which once again demonstrates how much flavour and aroma hops must have been added to absolutely overpower the bitterness.

The brewers notes mentions that no hops were added during the boil (I'm assuming bittering hops would have been added though, but perhaps not?) - and instead all hops were added after the boil during the 'whirlpool' phase to get the highest concentration possible. The brew was then double dry hopped during fermentation.

The combination of five different hops leads to a very tropical taste on the tongue - with predominantly citrus and particularly orange flavours shining through. This tropical taste lingers in the mouth after each sip leaving you wanting more - unlike traditional IPA's that in my experience tend to leave a lingering bitterness in the mouth. Wanting more can be problematic though because at 6% ABV it packs quite a punch.

Haziness is prevalent in the Mr Fruju NEIPA

A thoroughly enjoyable beer with plenty of enjoyable tropical fruit flavours. Little to no perceived bitterness it certainly meets the expected taste of "juicy". A very good introduction into the relatively new style of NEIPA's - would highly recommend.



What do you think of the Mr Fruju NEIPA, or NEIPA's in general? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Thursday 13 May 2021

KegLand Bottle Filler Beer Gun - Review

After making the change from bottling all of my homebrewed beer to kegging - I wanted a way to still be able to bottle my beer occasionally so I could easily share it with friends and family - or take a couple of bottles to parties etc. Counter pressure bottle fillers looked good but cost more than I was willing to pay - so I thought I'd give the KegLand Bottle Filler Beer Gun a try. Here are my findings after using it a couple of times.

The gun itself feels good - made mostly of metal/steel it feels sturdy and weighty in the hands. Also easier to keep clean and sanitise when all the parts that touch your beer are made of stainless steel.

It can be messy to setup though - I felt like I had beer and gas lines going everywhere when putting it together. I wanted to be able to use the feature of purging the bottles with CO2 gas from the gun prior to filling so needed to hook my gas bottle up to the gun. But I also needed the same gas bottle to be connected to the keg to maintain the pressure needed during dispensing via the gun. A push in T-piece fitting (KegLand Duotight) worked very well for this and made it quick and easy, but it can be a little overwhelming figuring out what goes where the first time.

To their credit though, KegLand do include two decent length hoses with the beer gun (but not the T-piece I previously mentioned) and some stepless clamps to secure them in place on the gun which is good. It would be great though to have standard gas and liquid disconnects included on the gun. This may or may not even be possible/feasible, but would make connecting/disconnect the gun a breeze as getting the included hoses slipped over the barbs of the gun was a bit tricky and took some time/effort.

Another point worth mentioning is the inclusion of a detailed instruction manual with the beer gun - I found this especially helpful in understanding exactly how the gun works and how best to use it. It's also available online so I found myself reading/studying it before purchasing - to see how it works and how it compares to other offerings available on the market.

The KegLand Bottle Filler Beer Gun in action

Due to some poor planning, my first attempt at filling bottles wasn't a huge success. The very first bottle I filled had a good inch or so of foam in it and I attribute this to two main reasons;

  1. My keg was still set at my original serving pressure of 11 psi (instructions recommend using 2-4psi)
  2. The bottles were at room temperature - ie. not chilled
Realising what happened with the serving pressure, I made some adjustments for the second bottle and got improved results, but still had 1-2cm of foam forming - so a little bit of overflow and wasted beer ensued by filling the bottle completely and letting the excess foam spill over (sitting the bottles on an old rag/blanket turned out to be a good idea!).

My second attempt at filling bottles went much better. I was using 750ml plastic PET bottles (same as the first attempt) but remembered to place them in the fridge 24 hours before filling them to ensure they were at the same temperature as the beer when being filled. And I suspect this made all the difference - there was little to no foaming after filling 4 bottles which made for a much nicer (and cleaner!) experience. The instructions do mention the bottles should be chilled prior to using, and it appears it does indeed make a big difference.

The cost of this bit of kit is very reasonable too - at under AU$40.

My second attempt at filling - using chilled bottles. Little to no foaming

I'd highly recommend others to give the KegLand Bottle Filler Beer Gun a try if they're after an affordable and easy to use method of bottling their homebrewed beer from a keg.

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Wednesday 12 May 2021

Is CO2 Gas Leaking or Being Absorbed into Beer?

Pressure fermenting can be tricky - especially when you're first starting out and grappling with some of the different concepts and potential problems along the way.

One of the questions I found I was asking myself during my first pressure fermentation was whether or not I had a leak in my Fermzilla pressure fermenter, or if the gas is being absorbed back into the beer which is causing a reduction in pressure in the fermenter.

Leaks aren't so bad during the actual fermentation - you will need to have a spunding valve attached to your fermenter to help regulate the pressure in the fermenter, so a small leak elsewhere won't actually be noticed until after the fermentation has completed and pressure is no longer being built inside the fermenter by the yeast.

This is what happened to me after my first pressure fermentation - the spunding valve did it's job, and showed the 10psi of pressure it was set to, and any excess was vented out via the spund valve as it should. My problems began after fermentation had completed, and I saw a reduction in pressure to 0 psi overnight. I'd reconnect my gas - re-pressurise the fermenter and leave it again. I couldn't hear any gas leaks, nor could I see any bubbles forming/popping after spraying the entire lid several times with a soapy solution. Sure enough, the next day the pressure would have dropped to 0 psi again.

I continued this process during a cold crash as well and had the same results - and I think I now have the answer to this question based on this experience.

If the pressure is dropping to 0 psi - it's a leak. Plain and simple.

If the pressure is dropping, but not to 0 psi, then it's more than likely being absorbed into the beer. 

Once I discovered the source of my problem (a carbonation cap that needed to be tightened), the Fermzilla would hold pressure and maybe drop a few psi overnight due to co2 being absorbed into the beer.

I wanted to share my experience as I could not find a definitive answer to this problem when I was facing it and found it very overwhelming (and frustrating) trying to understand it.

A pressure gauge reading 0 can be tricky to troubleshoot

What has you experience been with gas leaks and/or  gas being absorbed into your beer? Did you find it confusing the first time as well? Leave a comment below to let me know.

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Tuesday 11 May 2021

FermZilla - All Rounder - Leak Troubleshooting Guide

The Kegland FermZilla is a great bit of kit that can be used for pressure fermenting. When fermenting under pressure though, it's important that the vessel does not have any leaks. Thankfully, the All Rounder model is quite simplistic in it's design, so there's really only a few places that leaks can come from. Is your FermZilla leaking or not holding pressure? Use this guide to work through the process of identifying and fixing any problematic leaks.

Carbonation Caps

Are you using plastic or stainless carbonation caps? The type you are using will determine what you should do to address any potential leaks

Fermzilla with plastic carbonation caps attached

Plastic: If you are using plastic carbonation caps, it is important that you do these up tight. The Kegland plastic carbonation caps don't have any seals within them, so they should be done up very tight to ensure they seal correctly. Some food grade lubricant on the thread can also help prevent any leaks from occurring. There is a hex head on the top of the cap that you can fit a spanner too to help put that extra bit of torque into tightening them.

Also, if you've been removing the lid by prying it open using a spanner on the underside of one of the carbonation caps like our guide suggests, it's worth pressing down hard on the carbonation cap to ensure it is sealed correctly. We've noticed ours leak occassionally after using this method to open the lid.

Stainless: The stainless carbonation caps from Kegland are different to the plastic ones as they have a rubber seal within them. Be careful not to overtighten them as this can cause the seal to warp and lead to leaks occurring. Some food grade lubricant on the thread can also help prevent any leaks from occurring.

Spray some soap solution around the carbonation cap area and watch for small air bubbles forming/popping to help identify any leaks in this area.

Pressure Release Valve (PRV)

Check and ensure the pressure release valve is seated correctly. Spray some soap solution on and around it and watch for small air bubbles forming and popping to easily identify if there are leaks coming from the PRV.

If you've previously had an aggressive fermentation with alot of krausen - check that no krausen or hop particles have gotten stuck in the PRV (you will need to take the lid off and look at the under-side of the PRV to check this, though).

FermZilla lid showing pressure release valve (PRV) location

Main Lid Assembly

This is the only other area that gas could be leaking from in the FermZilla. As previously mentioned, one of the great things about the design of the All Rounder (compared to the Conical) is it's simplicity meaning there's a very small number of places that can cause air leaks.

First of all, make sure your stainless handles are not done up too tight. If they are too tight this can cause the opening of the FermZilla to become warped, so the lid doesn't sit in tightly and air will leak out the sides.

Fermzilla lid showing stainless steel handle assembly

Before doing any further troubleshooting with the lid assembly, be sure to release any pressure within the Fermzilla by pulling the pressure release valve - if you remove the lid collar whilst there's still pressure inside the lid assembly will likely fly off with great force and potentially cause injury.

After releasing pressure, unscrew the lid collar then remove the lid. Check the following things on the lid;

  • Make sure the surfaces around the outside edge of the lid are free from any debris, or burrs which are small bits of plastic some times left over from the manufacturing/moulding process. They can be removed with a stanley knife and/or fine grit sandpaper

  • Ensure the rubber gasket is sitting in the groove

  • Ensure the gasket is free from dirt/debris or anything else that could prevent it from sealing on the lid opening of the Fermzilla

  • Put plenty of food grade lubricant around the lid and over the gasket

  • Re-attach the lid - press it down firmly and ensure all edges of the lid are sitting inside the lid opening of the Fermzilla

  • Re-attach the lid collar - do it up by hand but don't over tighten it

Once you've done this, you can let the pressure build up naturally (if fermentation is still going) or you can attach a gas line from your CO2 bottle and pressurise.

A common question I found I was asking myself when looking for leaks is "is it a leak, or is the gas being absorbed into the beer?". 

The answer to this is pretty simple - if you're seeing a slight reduction in pressure over a long period - eg. 24-48 hours then this would likely be absorption or variations in ambient temperature affecting the pressure. If you're seeing the pressure drop to 0 then you have a leak.

The first and only leak I've experienced with my FermZilla was by not having one of the plastic carbonation caps done up tightly enough.

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Monday 10 May 2021

Setting & Adjusting CO2 Gas Regulator (How to Guide)

A CO2 regulator is a critical part of any kegging system. As the name suggests, the regulator is responsible for regulating or controlling the flow of gas from your gas cylinder into your keg. The pressure inside the the CO2 cylinder is much higher than what is required to pressurise kegs, or dispense beer from them, so the regulator helps us set and control the pressure.

Here's a step by step guide to get your CO2 pressure regulator connected to your bottle and adjusted correctly.

Review the image below to familiarise yourself with the different parts of the regulator before beginning.

Diagram showing the key components of a CO2 gas regulator

  1. Ensure the gas on your cylinder is fully closed/off (ie. wound in a clockwise direction). Attach your gas line to the output of the regulator. Ensure you have a gas disconnect on the end of the gas line (but don't connect it to your keg yet). In the picture above, we're using a duotight push in fitting to connect our line to the regulator - you may have a barb connection which just requires a clamp to hold the line in place over the barb.

  2. Connect the regulator to the outlet valve on your gas cylinder. The standard fitting/connection in Australia for these is a Type 30 connection. Use a tap spanner to ensure it is sufficiently tightened to prevent any gas from leaking out.

  3. Unwind (screw anti-clockwise) the adjustment knob on your gas regulator as far as it will go. Unwinding this knob closes the output of the regulator.

  4. Fully open the gas valve on your gas bottle by turning the valve handle anti-clockwise. Listen for any hissing noises indicating a gas leak. If you do hear one, check all your connections are tight. At this point you should see a reading on the high-pressure gauge on your regulator.

  5. Once you are confident there are no leaks, you can begin slowly turning the adjustment handle on your regulator clockwise to start allowing gas to flow through. Do this slowly, and you'll notice the low pressure gauge on regulator start to move as it allows more gas/pressure to pass through it. For most beers, a pressure of 10-12 psi is sufficient.

  6. Check again for leaks - listen, feel and also try spraying connections and fittings with a soapy water solution and look for bubbles forming/popping. Even the smallest of gas leaks can lead to your gas bottle being drained overnight.

  7. If you have adjusted your pressure to high, close the valve on the gas cylinder and pull the pressure release valve (PRV) on your regulator to release the pressure and start again.

  8. Once you have your pressure set correctly, you can attach the gas disconnect on your gas line to your keg. You should be able to hear the vessel it is attached to begin to fill with gas.

  9. Another good tip to check for leaks is to set the pressure on your regulator with the gas line not connected to anything. Close the valve on your gas cylinder and leave it overnight. Check the high and low pressure on your gauges - if either have dropped to 0 then you have a leak in your system.
Check out my other blog posts which have more detailed instructions on checking for leaks if you get stuck.

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Friday 7 May 2021

How to easily clean keg beer lines

When using a kegging system at home, it's important that beer lines are kept clean to ensure no infections or off flavours develop within the lines themselves. One of the problems many home brewers face when cleaning lines is they need to waste alot of gas - filling a 19L keg with cleaning solution then pressuring it to force the cleaning solution through the beer lines is inefficient - requiring alot of water and gas to do so.

In this post I'll outline the process I use - which requires a couple of (cheap) extra parts, but makes it much quicker and more efficient to get your beer lines cleaned.

What you'll need;

  • Your beer line(s) - obviously - with liquid disconnect on at least one end
  • An empty soft drink bottle (with standard 'coke style' PCO 1881 style thread)
  • A PCO 1881 carbonation cap tee piece (available from Kegland - here)
  • A short piece of silicone tubing to use as a dip tube in the empty soft drink bottle
  • 2 x carbonation caps (available from Kegland - here)
  • A CO2 gas cylinder with regulator and gas disconnect
The PCO 1881 carbonation cap tee piece is an excellent piece of hardware that can be used to convert any soft drink bottle with a compatible screw thread, into what is essentially a mini keg.

To clean our beer lines, we'll put some cleaning solution into the soft drink bottle and attach the carbonation cap tee piece. One of the carbonation caps on the tee piece will have the silicone hose attached - as a dip tube, and the other carbonation cap will be used to attach gas to pressurise the bottle.

Refer to the picture below showing how it all pieces together

Once you've got this all setup, connect the beer line you wish to clean, onto the top carbonation cap (that has the dip tube attached)

Then, connect your CO2 gas onto the other carbonation cap and add pressure - you won't need alot, 5psi should be sufficient.

If the other end of your liquid line has a disconnect on it, you'll need to open it with your finger to allow the liquid to flow through. If you haven't got a disconnect then as soon as you attach the gas, it will start forcing the liquid out through the line - cleaning it in the process.

Given the cheap cost of the equipment used here - you can easily setup separate bottles for cleaning (using PBW), sanitisation (using StarSan or StellaSan) and another with plain water for rinsing - and then just change the gas and liquid disconnects over to each bottle.

The beauty of this solution is that it's much quicker, easier and uses less gas to pressurise a small soft drink bottle as opposed to a keg.

Easy beer line cleaning solution - fully assembled

How do you clean your beer lines? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Thursday 6 May 2021

Checking & Testing CO2 Gas Lines for Leaks (How To Guide)

One of the greatest fears of many home brewers utilising CO2 tanks and kegs for carbonating and dispensing their beer, is that of a leak in their gas lines. Even the tiniest of leaks can empty a full CO2 bottle overnight which is an unnecessary inconvenience, and expense.

A great tool you can use to track down a CO2 leak is a trigger spray bottle filled with water and a couple of squirts of dish washing liquid. Spraying this solution onto hoses/connections etc will cause bubbles to show/form/pop wherever there's a gas leak.

Here are a process you can use to isolate and track down any leaks you may have in your CO2 gas lines.

  1. Isolate where the problem is - as a first step I disconnect my gas line from any keg(s) it may be connected to. Open the gas on your bottle and adjust your CO2 regulator pressure to 10psi

  2. Close the gas from your bottle and leave overnight. Check the regulator pressure gauge values to ensure they haven't dropped to 0 after this time. Some reduction in pressure may occur, due to changes in atmospheric temperature etc - a slight reduction over a long time doesn't necessarily indicate a leak, however, the pressure being reduced to 0 over any time period does.

  3. If the pressure has dropped to 0 you have a leak - and because you've disconnected the gas line from your kegs, we've narrowed it down to one of the below places

    The connection between gas bottle and gas regulator
    The regulator housing (including gauge connections)
    The regulator output/connection to your gas lines
    The disconnect on the end of your gas line(s)

  4. Use your dish washing liquid spray solution mentioned previously to cover the above areas and watch for bubbles forming/moving. Bubbles will automatically form when you spray which is fine - what you need to watch for is bubbles forming, moving and popping which indicates the presence of pressure/gas

    An example of bubbles after a gas disconnect being sprayed. Bubbles are OK - moving/popping bubbles are not

  5. Next step would be to pressurise your keg(s) and spray the openings and posts to see if any bubbles form

  6. Most leaks are easily fixed by tightening the fittings/connections. It's knowing which connections need to be tightened that is the problem.
Have you had problems with gas leaks in your setup? Let me know in the comments below

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Wednesday 5 May 2021

Brick Lane - Supernova IPA - Beer Review

Brewed By: Brick Lane Brewing
Beer: Supernova IPA
ABV: 6.8%
Malts: Pale, Munich, Rolled Oats
Hops: Citra, Equanot, Centennial, Mosaic
Yeast: Chico

"Our Supernova IPA is a bright, tropical IPA with notes of tangerine, mango, lychee, pine and green pepper. A champagne supernova of flavours that hits the palate with a powerful aromatic punch"


The Brick Lane Supernova IPA is the quintessential example of what an IPA should be. High alcohol content, a strong bitterness sitting subtly behind a nice strong blend of fruity hops making for an excellent and well balanced combination of flavours.

The malt backbone consists of a mixture of pale, munich and rolled oats which gives it a fairly light colour - with a slight amount of haze - most likely from the large amount of hops that are present. But the malts are only there to play a supporting role to what is the star of the show here - the hops.

Hops are a mixture of citra, equanot, centennial and mosaic - and there's plenty of them. The best way to describe the taste is tropical - not quite at the "juicy" level as say, a New England IPA, but not far off it. The bitterness does linger a little after each sip - more so than the tropical notes which doesn't always leave the most pleasant aftertaste in the mouth.

At 6.8% it packs plenty of punch - I wouldn't be drinking more than 1 or 2 at a time, but this is really what an IPA should be. A well rounded beer with plenty of everything - alcohol, bitterness and hop fruitiness.